Dukes Top Bucknell, 35-14
Duquesne took advantage of Bucknell turnovers on five consecutive fourth quarter possessions to break a 14-14 tie and pull away for a convincing 35-14 opening-day win. The DU victory ended a streak of four consecutive losses to the Bison.
Duquesne was up 14-7 with :32 left in the third quarter when All-American cornerback Leigh Bodden halted a Bucknell drive with a leaping interception in the end zone. Bucknell, who held the Dukes without a first down in the third quarter, opened the final period with a six-play, 49-yard drive capped by a four-yard Jess Brinson touchdown run to tie the game at 14-14.
It was then that the Duquesne defense took over. The onslaught began when Joe Pavlick picked off a Todd Wenrich pass and returned it to the BU 11, setting up a 10 yard scoring pass from Niel Loebig to Jeremy Conley. Three plays later, Duquesne cornerback Armar Watson stepped in front of a Wenrich pass and took it 46 yards for a score to put the Dukes up 28-14.
With 2:11 remaining, Duquesne linebacker Trent Wissner, who recovered a Bucknell fumble on the previous possession, intercepted Wenrich and returned it 26 yards to the Bucknell 15. Loebig then hit Conley with an 18-yard scoring pass with 1:07 left to complete the scoring. Bodden added a fumble recovery with :48 left on Bucknell's sixth turnover of the afternoon.
Duquesne, who never trailed, got on the board first on an eight-yard Loebig pass to tight end Matt Mrdjenovich with 2:56 left in the first quarter. Bucknell tied the game on a 16-yard pass from Wenrich to Nisan Trotter early in the second quarter, before Duquesne answered with a 74-yard catch-and-run touchdown from Loebig to Conley to take a 14-7 lead it held until Brinson's touchdown run.
Conley, whose status for the game was up in the air due to back spasms, was the offensive spark for the Dukes with five catches for 114 yards and three scores. Loebig finished an economical 13-of-26 for 193 yards and four scores and was not sacked on the day.
Defensive tackle John Rodgers led the inspired defensive effort with a game-high 12 stops. Safety Tim Pichette added 11 tackles for the Dukes. DU's defense registered 10 tackles for loss, three sacks, four interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Brinson led Bucknell with 28 carries for a game-high 120 yards and a TD. Wenrich finished the game 10-of-24 for 106 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions.
BY QUARTER 1 2 3 4 FINAL BUCKNELL 0 7 0 7 14 DUQUESNE 7 7 0 21 35