Dukes Clinch MAAC Championship, Beat SPC 39-7
METRO ATLANTIC ATHLETIC CONFERENCE GAME
DUQUESNE 39, SAINT PETER'S 7
Oct. 18, Rooney Field, Pittsburgh, Pa.
Records: Duquesne (5-2, 4-0), Saint Peter's (0-7, 0-2)
overcast cool - 49 degrees
** Victory clinches Duquesne's 5th consecutive MAAC title and 7th championship in the last nine years **
Receivers Michel Warfield and Randy Vulakovich combined for 284 yards to lead Duquesne to a 39-7 win over Saint Peter's. The victory - in addition to being DU's 28th conference win a row - clinched the 2003 MAAC championship for the Dukes. Duquesne has now won the last five league crowns and seven titles in the last nine seasons.
Warfield, who caught 8 passes for 173 yards, scored on touchdown passes of 24 and 20 yards to turn a 13-7 Duquesne lead into a 25-7 bulge mid way through the third quarter. Running back Mike Hilliard, who finished the game with 104 yards on 26 carries, added his second and third touchdowns of the game to close out the scoring. Vulakovich made a number of key grabs in finishing with 10 catches for 111 yards.
Saint Peter's scored first when Dan Holmes capped a 78-yard drive with a 2 yard run on the Peacocks' first possession. Duquesne's R.J. Romano recovered a muffed punt at the Saint Peter's 30 to set up a three-play drive that ended with a Hilliard 3-yard run to make the score 7-6.
Loebig, who finished the game 24-of-33 for 336 yards, hit Dan Jameson from 4 yards out to give the Dukes a 13-7 lead at the 11:13 mark of the second quarter. DU added another score when Loebig took the team 83 yards in 1:17 before hitting Warfield from 24 yards out with just 22 seconds left in the half. The catch was Warfield's fifth of a nine play drive.
Duquesne outgained Saint Peter's 450-to-264 on the afternoon, including a 336-to-165 edge in the air. The Dukes picked off three passes including one returned 68 yards by Javonn Bradley to set up a 5 yard run by Hilliard to make the score 32-7 late in the third quarter. Hilliard added a 4 yard run with 10:11 left to close out the scoring.
BY QUARTER 1 2 3 4 OT FINAL SAINT PETER'S 7 0 0 0 7 DUQUESNE 6 13 13 7 39LEADERS Rushing (Att./Yds./TD): DU - Hilliard (26-104-3); SPC - Leonor (15-50-0) Passing (Att./Comp./Int./Yds./TD): DU - Loebig (33-24-1-336-3); SPC - Harris (29-16-3-165-0) Receiving (Att./Yds./TD): DU - Vulakovich (10-111-0), Warfield (8-173-0); SPC - Taylor (8-91-0) Tackles (Tot./Solo): DU - Carter (14/9); SPC - D'Elia (12/12)
Duquesne Head Coach Greg Gattuso: "Saint Peter's come out and threw a defense at us we had never seen. They weren't going to let us throw the ball to Yardon Brantley and they were not going to let Mike Hilliard run the ball. That left the other guys open. I thought Michel Warfield and Randy Vulakovich played outstanding.
"When I told our guys we had cliched the championship they responded like it was just another day at the office. I don't care where you play or at what level you play, winning five straight championships and 28 games in a row in your league is some accomplishment."
Receiver Randy Vulakovich: "We're always a team that starts a little bit slow. That's got to stop in the next couple of weeks. They played us tough in the first half. They were paying a lot of attention to Yardon [Brantley] and that opened things up for us.
"Winning the championship is gratifying. That is always our goal at the start of the season. We still have a couple of big weeks coming up."
The Duquesne win combined with Marist's 38-21 loss at Iona clinched the fifth MAAC title in a row for Duquesne ... the Dukes have now won seven of the last nine league championships ... the victory also extended Duquesne's MAAC winning streak to 28 games ... DU is now 10-0 all-time vs. the Peacocks ... receivers Michel Warfield (Oxon Hill, Md./Bishop McNamara) and Randy Vulakovich (Pittsburgh, Pa./Shaler) combined for 18 catches and 284 yards ... Warfield, who finished with a career-high 8 catches for a career-best 173 yards, caught touchdown passes of 24 and 20 yards ... he also had a 46-yard reception ... in his last two games, Warfield has caught 11 passes for 329 yards and 4 TDs ... that's an average of 29.9 yards per reception ... Vulakovich finished with 10 catches for 111 yards ... it was his second 100-yard effort in DU's last three games ... in the Dukes' last three games, Vulakovich has caught 28 passes for 333 yards (9.3 receptions per game) ... junior quarterback Niel Loebig (McDonald, Pa./South Fayette) completed 24-of-33 passes for 336 yards and three touchdowns ... it marked the third consecutive game - and ninth career time - Loebig has topped the 300-yard mark ... he has now thrown for two or more scores in 23 of 29 career games ... in his last three games, Loebig has completed 71-of-113 passes (.628) for 1,078 yards and 10 TDs ... senior running back Mike Hilliard (Homer City, Pa./Homer Center) topped the 100-yard rushing mark for the fourth time in DU's last five games ... Hilliard scored on runs of 3, 5 and 4 yards, giving him 13 rushing TDs in seven games ... he needs one more rushing TD to tie the record he shares with Pedro Bowman ... Bowman totaled 14 rushing TDs in 1982, while Hilliard matched him last season ... Harry Carter (Lanham, Md./Eleanor Roosevelt) posted a game-high 14 tackles (9 solo), including 2 tackles for loss ... Javonn Bradley (Rochester, Pa./Rochester), Armar Watson (Forrestville, Md./Suitland) and R.J. Romano (Carrollton, Ohio/Carrollton) each pick off a pass for the Dukes ... Bradley, who returned his pick 68 yards to the Saint Peter's one to set up Duquesne's fifth touchdown, also posted one sack ... Romano also recovered a fumble ... Duquesne outgained Saint Peter's 450-264.