Red and Blue Hold Off Robert Morris, 33-28
Niel Loebig completed 15-of-19 passes for 333 yards and 3 touchdowns to lead Duquesne to a 33-28 win over cross-town rival Robert Morris in a wild game that saw a combined 777 yards passing. The Duquesne win overshadowed an outstanding performance by RMU quarterback Rich Demaio who threw for a school record 444 yards and 3 TDs in a losing effort.
Duquesne took advantage of Robert Morris turnovers to jump out to an early 14-0 lead. Armar Watson's interception set up a 21-yard Loebig to Michel Warfield touchdown pass to put the Dukes up 6-0 five minutes into the game. On Robert Morris' next possession, Harry Carter leveled RMU's Rob Quaranta after a short completion forcing a fumble that was picked up by DU linebacker Ryan Tolan and taken 16 yards for a touchdown to make the score 14-0. The Dukes then drove 85 yards on 8 plays to set up Mike Hilliard's school record 15th rushing touchdown of the season to go up 21-0. A Loebig to Yardon Brantley 42-yard pass gave the Dukes first-and-goal at the RMU 5 yard line, setting up Hilliard's record run.
Robert Morris got back in the game on a 55 yard TD pass from Demaio to Dante Settles followed by a 28 yard interception return for a score by James Niklos to cut the Duquesne lead to 21-14 with just over 10 minutes to go in the half. Loebig answered by finding Warfield again, this time from 19 yards out, to give Duquesne a 27-14 lead at the half. After a scoreless third quarter, Demaio caught fire completing 5-of-5 passes for 82 yards to pull the Colonials with six on a 38-yard TD pass to Ricky Daldo with 5:27 left in the game. Two plays later, on second-and-nine, Loebig found a streaking Brantley and hit him in stride for an 83-yard touchdown to put Duquesne up 33-21.
Robert Morris would not fold as Demaio completed 6-of-8 passes to drive the Colonials 62 yards in just under three minutes to cut the DU lead to 33-28 on a 4 yard pass to Tyjuan Massey. Duquesne recovered the ensuing onside kick, but was forced to punt the ball away with 29 seconds left. Linebacker Harry Carter batted down Demaio's final pass of the day at the Duquesne 5 yard line as time expired.
Hilliard led all rushers with 126 yards on 36 carries. Brantley caught four passes for a career-high 190 yards. Warfield added 6 catches for 97 yards for DU. Settles led Robert Morris with 153 yards receiving on 9 catches. Carter led Duquesne's defense with a game-high 14 tackles (8 solo) including three tackles for loss, a sack, a forced fumble and three pass break ups. Robert Morris, which ran 15 more plays than Duquesne outgained the Dukes 495 to 474. Duquesne posted three interceptions and recovered a pair of fumbles while turning it over just two times.
The Dukes return to action next Saturday, Nov. 22 as they host Monmouth in the ECAC Classic at 1:00 pm.