October 2, 2011

Duquesne Breaks Away From Bulldogs 31-28

If you were not at the game between Duquesne and Bryant to determine which would get the early lead in the NEC Conference race, you may have a hard time wondering why the game was very much in doubt until the very end.

Statistically, this game looked like the Duquesne Dukes should have had an easier time dispatching the visitors. The home team in front of the Homecoming crowd led in just about every significant team and individual category including First Downs, Passing Yards, Rushing Yards, Punting Average (Net and Average), Punt return yardage, Kickoff Yardage, Average Gain per Play, Time of Possession, Third Down Conversions, and Sacks. They narrowly lost the kickoff return average which really didn’t figure in the game’s outcome. It’s not that Duquesne’s margin was close. For example, they out-gained the Bulldogs by over 100 yards and held the ball for almost 10 minutes more. It can’t be blamed on the bad breaks since the Dukes won the turnover battle too.

So why was this game so close?

Much like Duquesne’s only loss of the young season by a single point to Bucknell, the Dukes seemed to outplay the opposition and led in the statistical categories. The closeness of either game can’t be blamed upon individual effort.

Offensively, Duquesne had plenty of heroes. The best example would be the pure guts shown by Larry McCoy to grind out a very hard earned 153 yards and a touchdown against a determined Bryant defense. These yards weren’t ripped off in chunks as they were the week before. Of the five receptions thrown at Conner Dixon three went for touchdowns. This man proved again that he can find the end zone. Sean Patterson didn't have the game he had the week before but he certainly didn’t play badly with over 200 total yards passing and running on a sloppy day. One interception was the ricochet type that bounced off the receiver and the other can be forgiven.

The Duquesne Defense had a number of standouts too. Horvin Latimer and Khiry Carter had 8 stops with Mike Passodelis and newly activated Dorian Bell right behind with 7 and 6 respectively. Collectively, the Dukes had 6 stops in the backfield and three sacks.

Nor can this game’s closeness be attributed to the special teams. Charlie Leventry showed again that the faithful should relax. Hitting on all field goal and PAT attempts and producing a healthy 41.2 yard punting average. He has shown that he can kick under pressure and in the rain as well.

This was just a good back and forth came where the Bulldogs lived up to their nicknames and somehow refused to let the Dukes pull away until Richie Piekarski’s interception with about two minutes left in the game. Every time the Dukes took a lead, Bryant seemed to have an answer with 5 lead changes during the game.

How do the cliques go? You have to "put the final nail in the coffin", "put your foot on their throat", "finish them off", "put them away", "close the door", "Don't let them hang around" etc., etc. The Dukes let this team hang around but this time pulled it out.

Next week, the Dukes travel to Albany for a 1:00 start.

Photo provided by Duquesne Athletics.

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