Dukes Drop Heartbreaker to CCSU, 28-27
Nov. 11, 2017
PITTSBURGH - With a chance to claim a fifth Northeast Conference (NEC) title and an automatic bid to the Football Subdivision Championship (FCS) Playoffs, Duquesne fell just short by a score of 28-27 to visiting Central Connecticut State in a back-and-forth affair on Saturday afternoon at Rooney Field.
The Dukes suffer their first NEC loss of the season, moving to 7-3 overall and 4-1 in conference play, while the Blue Devils win their seventh straight contest to improve to 7-3 on the year and 5-0 in league action. With the win, CCSU secures at least a share of the NEC crown as well as the conference's bid to the postseason.
After falling behind 14-0 in the first half, Duquesne gained the momentum and responded with 27 straight points, building a 13-point advantage into the fourth quarter.
However, the Blue Devils would answer with a pair of scores to regain the lead at 28-27 with just over two minutes remaining in the contest.
Following a touchback, the Dukes used 11 plays to march 74 yards to the CCSU one-yard line. With five seconds to play and a chance to take the lead, an 18-yard field goal attempt went wide left as the Blue Devils held on for the triumph.
Nehari Crawford (Fort Pierce, Fla./Fort Pierce Central) finished with a career-high 10 catches for 167 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while A.J. Hines (Wilson, N.C./Fike) added 25 carries for 126 yards and two scores for Duquesne.
Crawford, who now has 13 receiving touchdowns on the year to go with five 100-yard receiving performances, is the first Dukes player to catch at least 10 passes in a game since Chris King tallied 12 receptions against William & Mary in 2015.
Hines, coming off a 253-yard showing last week, recorded his 12th career 100-yard rushing game on Saturday. He now has 10 rushing touchdowns on the season, as well.
The Duquesne defense came up with three turnovers in the game which led to 14 Dukes points on forced fumbles by seniors Andy Struttmann (Westerville, Ohio/Westerville North) and Nathan Stone (Scottdale, Pa./Greensburg Central Catholic).
Facing a 14-0 deficit, Tommy Stuart (Baltimore, Md./Calvert Hall/Boise State) found Crawford on a 22-yard touchdown strike to cut the Blue Devils' lead in half in the second quarter.
Early in the third period, Stone forced a CCSU fumble which was picked up by Carter Henderson (Murrysville, Pa./Franklin Regional/Penn State) and returned 14 yards to the Blue Devils' seven-yard line. On the next play, Hines trotted into the end zone to even the score at 14-14.
On the Dukes' first drive of the fourth quarter, Stuart would connect with Crawford once again, this time on a 21-yard touchdown pass to give Duquesne its first lead of the day at 20-14 after the extra point attempt failed.
On the next Blue Devil march, Struttmann forced a fumble which was recovered by Stone at the Dukes' 44-yard line. Two plays later, Hines broke loose for a 45-yard touchdown run, extending the Duquesne advantage to 27-14.
CCSU did not quit, as quarterback Jake Dolegala led two fourth-quarter scoring drives, resulting in his own 16-yard rushing touchdown and an 18-yard passing score to Cameron Nash which proved to be the game-winner for the Blue Devils.
CCSU outgained the Dukes 462-430 in the game, despite the Dukes owning a 198-186 advantage in rushing yards.
Stuart completed 16-of-25 pass attempts for 232 yards with a pair of touchdowns.
Henderson paced Duquesne with nine tackles including eight solo stops and the fumble recovery.
The Dukes cap the 2017 season with a road contest at Bryant next Saturday, Nov. 18 at noon ET.