Sept. 4, 2012
Game: #2 - Dukes host Dayton in 2012 home opener
DAYTON (0-1) at DUQUESNE (0-1)
Saturday, Sept. 8 at 12:10 p.m.
Arthur J. Rooney Athletic Field (2,200/Sportexe) Pittsburgh, Pa.
RADIO: WMNY-AM 1360 with Alex Panormios (play-by-play) & Robert Healy (color)
STREAMING AUDIO: RedZoneMedia.com or GoDuquesne.com
LIVE VIDEO & GAMETRACKER: GoDuquesne.com
Duquesne, coming off a 57-23 loss at No. 6/8 (coaches/TSN) Old Dominion last Saturday, returns home to face the Pioneer Football League's Dayton Flyers (0-1) on Saturday, Sept. 8 at 12:10 p.m. (WMNY-AM 1360). The Dukes, who were facing their highest ranked FCS opponent ever in front of a sellout crowd of 19,818 (the largest crowd the Dukes played before since the 1950s), led 20-10 at the half and trailed 27-23 with 11:50 left before ODU scored 30 points over the final 11:22. Dayton, picked to finish fourth in the Pioneer preseason poll, opened with a 56-14 loss at No. 19 Illinois State.
MORE ON THE DUKES: This is Duquesne's fifth season as a scholarship-granting football program and fifth season as an associate member of the Northeast Conference. With the move to the NEC, Duquesne offered 18 scholarships in February of 2008. That number has increased to 32 this season. Duquesne granted only need-based financial aid for football playing student-athletes as a member of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Football League from 1994 through 2007. The NEC competed as a non-scholarship member of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision until 2006 when the conference adopted an athletics-based aid model. This is the third season the NEC regular season champion will be an automatic qualifier for the Division I Football Championship.
STREAKING: Duquesne enters Saturday's game with a seven game home win streak. The last time DU won seven straight at home was from 2002 into 2004 when Duquesne reeled off a Rooney Field record 16 in a row. DU's last home loss was on Oct. 2, 2010 to Monmouth (44-17),
DUKES AND FLYERS: Although Dayton and Duquesne share membership in the Atlantic 10 Conference in all sports other than football, grid meetings between the two were scarce until 2001. The series began with a 20-0 Duquesne home win over the Flyers on Nov. 13, 1920. The two also met in a home-and-home series in 1923 and 1924 with Dayton winning twice. Dayton's 42-16 win at Rooney Field in 2001 - in addition to ending a 14-game DU home winning streak - marked a renewal of the series. In 2002, Duquesne, ranked No. 2 in The Sports Network I-AA Mid-Major Top 10, went to Dayton and defeated the No. 1 Flyers 35-28. Duquesne defeated Dayton 24-16 in 2008 in the Flyers' second trip to Pittsburgh since 1923 to even the series at 3-3. In 2009, UD returned the favor, defeating the Dukes 24-17 at Dayton. In the last Pittsburgh meeting, Ohio native Sean Patterson hit Sean Bunevich with an eight-yard touchdown pass with 21 seconds left to give Duquesne a dramatic 35-31 win over Dayton at Rooney Field... last year, Jared Williams blocked Nate Miller's 50 yard field goal attempt with two seconds left and returned it 48 yards for a score as Duquesne scored nine points in the final 30 seconds to end Dayton's FCS-best 10-game win streak with a 22-13 victory at Welcome Stadium ... Duquesne took a 16-13 lead on a 24 yard Charlie Leventry field goal with 30 seconds left.
SERIES BITS: Duquesne has won four of the past five to take a 5-4 series lead ... DU has won the past two on Rooney Field (leads 3-2 in games at Pittsburgh) ... Duquesne handed Dayton its lone loss in 2010, 35-31, at Rooney Field (UD finished 10-1) ... DU also tagged Dayton's 2002 Mid-Major National Championship team (11-1) with its lone defeat (35-28 at Dayton) ... Dayton snapped a 14-game Duquesne home win streak with a 42-16 Rooney Field win in 2001 ... Duquesne head coach Jerry Schmitt is 3-1 against the Flyers.
HISTORICAL FOOTNOTE: The quarterback and placekicker for the Dukes in the 1920 win over Dayton was none other than Art Rooney. Rooney, for whom Duquesne's home field is named, went on to become one of the most respected figures in the history of the National Football League as the owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Rooney was enshrined in the Pr o Football Hall of Fame in 1964.
IN NON-CONFERENCE PLAY: Duquesne is 17-15 in non-conference games under eighth-year head coach Jerry Schmitt with wins over Robert Morris (three times prior to joining the NEC), Dayton (three times), Bucknell (twice) and Fordham (twice). At home, the Dukes are 11-2 in non-league play, while on the road Schmitt's Dukes have fashioned a 6-13 mark. DU snapped a seven-game skid in non-conference road games with a 22-13 win at Dayton on Sept. 3, 2011. The win snapped Dayton's FCS-best win streak at 10. DU went 2-1 in non-conference games last season.
OLD DOMINION LEFTOVERS: Duquesne played before the largest crowd (19,818) since the program was reinstated in 1969 (DU did not field a team from 1951 through 1968) ... ODU No. 6 (coaches)/No. 8 (Sports Network) was the highest ranked team DU faced since moving to the FCS level ... it was the 23rd straight sellout for the Monarchs (every game since restarting their football program in 2009) ... ODU is now 17-5 all-time at Foreman Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium ... Old Dominion quarterback Taylor Heinicke, who threw for 25 touchdowns and one interception last year, was picked off twice in the first half and three times on the evening ... Zach Richert (Gibsonia, Pa./Pine-Richland) returned the first 67 yards to set up Larry McCoy's 2-yard second quarter TD ... true freshman Christian Kuntz (Pittsburgh, Pa./Chartiers Valley) returned the second 49 yards for a touchdown with 38 seconds left in the half to give DU a 20-10 lead ... Old Dominion outgained Duquesne 723-151 ... DU was held to 23 yards on 22 plays in the second half ... ODU's 57 points were the most by a DU opponent since a 62-50 loss at Iona on Oct. 23, 1999 ... senior running back Larry McCoy (Wytheville, Va./George Wythe) carried 15 times for 49 yards ... it was his lowest rushing total since he was held to 37 yards on nine carries against Bryant in the final game of his freshman season ... McCoy had rushed for at least 74 yards in his past 22 games ... seven true freshman saw action for the Dukes - including six on defense ... four played in the first quarter: linebacker Sam Martello (Westlake, Ohio/St. Edward), cornerback Adam Clopton (Pickerington, Ohio/Pickerington Central), defensive tackle Zach Zidian (Youngstown, Ohio/Boardman) and linebacker Christian Kuntz (Pittsburgh, Pa./Chartiers Valley) ... Josh Jordan (Hueytown, Ala./Hueytown) entered the game at cornerback in the second quarter ... defensive tackle Dane O'Driscoll (Hudson, Ohio/Walsh Jesuit) saw action late and receiver Chris King (Crofton, Md./DeMatha Catholic) played on special teams ... Clopton and Jordan both broke up passes in the end zone ... Kuntz led the Dukes with 12 tackles (3 solo) and Martello had seven.
Duquesne, which returns nine starters, won its final five games to finish the 2011 season 9-2 (7-1 in the NEC).
Duquesne saw a five-game win streak (CCSU, Wagner, at Monmouth, at Sacred Heart and Robert Morris) snapped in the season opener at Old Dominion. It was the school's longest since a five-game streak in 2007. It was also DU's longest since moving to the NEC in 2008.
The Dukes, who ranked 4th nationally in total defense (281.6 ypg.), surrendered just two touchdowns in the last 12 quarters of 2011. Old Dominion scored seven touchdowns, including four in the final 11:22, in the season opener. DU returns just four starters on defense in senior linebackers Derrick Lakins, Chidozie Oparanozie and Horvin Latimer and senior AP All-America safety Serge Kona.
Seven true freshmen saw action in the opener, including six on defense. Of the six, five played in the first half.
DU is 12-4 in NEC play over the past two seasons (5-3 in 2010 and 7-1 last year). The Dukes went 4-11 in their first two seasons in the conference (2-5 in 2008 and 2-6 in 2009).
DU has now defeated every team in the NEC under current head coach Jerry Schmitt.
Four returnees who suffered season-ending injuries in the span of 20 days last September are back: RB Ryan Ho (ankle on Sept. 3 at Bucknell), WR Dave Thomas (foot on Sept. 17 vs. Valparaiso), WR Akeem Moore (knee in practice on Sept. 21) and DL Reggie Eiland (off field ankle injury on Sept. 22). Two of the four - Moore and Eiland - started at least once before being injured. The other two - Ho and Thomas - were playing prominent roles on DU's kickoff return team before getting hurt. Three of the four participated in the opener (all but Moore).
DU's first scholarship class, signed in February of 2008, makes up the majority of this year's senior class. Duquesne offered 18 scholarships to the first class. That number has been increased to the current number of 32.
Duquesne returns 85.5 percent of its rushing yards mainly in the legs of senior running back Larry McCoy. McCoy carried 288 times for 1,381 yards and 12 touchdowns as a junior (ranked 9th nationally). McCoy, who topped 100 yards a school record nine times in 2011, needs 733 yards to surpass Donte Small (4,260 yards from 1998-01) as DU's all-time leading rusher. In all, the Dukes return rushers who accounted for 17 of 19 rushing TDs last season.
On the other hand, DU is in the process of replacing 89.9 percent of its receiving yardage which came primarily in the form of Isaac Spragg (59-662-5), Connor Dixon (40-792-16) and Brooks Roorback (30-254-0). Spragg led the NEC in receptions (5.4) while Dixon, whose 16 TD receptions were the third-most by an FCS receiver last season, was a first team All-NEC pick. In all, six departed pass catchers (including Joe Cangilla, tight end Brian Layhue and running back Bill Bair) accounted for 143 of 159 receptions, 1,912 of 2,033 yards and 22 of 23 touchdown catches in 2011. Senior running back Larry McCoy is DU's top returning receiver (five catches last year). Returnees Noel Oduho, Akeem Moore and fullback Ethan Dorsey had three receptions each. Wide receivers Dave Thomas and Sean Brady had one apiece.
Duquesne is 17-15 in non-conference games under 8th year head coach Jerry Schmitt (11-2 at home and 6-13 on the road). The Dukes snapped a seven-game road non-conference losing streak with a 22-13 win at Dayton last season. The Flyers entered the game with the nation's longest FCS win streak at 10.
The Dukes bring a seven-game home win streak into the 2012 season. The last time DU won seven in a row at home was from 2002 into 2004 when Duquesne reeled off a Rooney Field record 16 in a row.
DU has posted back-to-back road wins in NEC play for the first time (16-0 at Monmouth and 29-15 at Sacred Heart in the last two conference road games of 2011).
QB Sean Patterson is 13-4 in his past 17 starts. The junior lefty has thrown for 37 touchdowns with 13 interceptions over that span.
A major renovation of the home locker room as well as coaches offices located in the fieldhouse located off the east end of Rooney Field was completed prior to last season. The newly named Keller Fieldhouse project comes on the heels of a renovation of Rooney Field which was completed in 2009.
Two familiar faces are part of the DU coaching staff this season. Niel Loebig, who served on Duquesne's coaching staff from 2006 through 2010, has returned as passing game coordinator and receivers coach. Loebig, who threw for over 10,000 yards (10,254) and 100 touchdowns (103) for the Dukes from 2001-04, spent last season at Lely High School in Naples, Fla. He was DU's quarterbacks coach from 2006-09, added the title of passing game coordinator in 2009 and served as offensive coordinator in 2010. Connor Dixon, a first team All-NEC receiver for the Dukes last season, is in his first year as tight ends coach. Dixon, a western Pennsylvania native, attended Michigan State as a quarterback before to transferring to Duquesne prior to the 2008 season. He started at QB for the Dukes in 2008 before shoulder injuries forced him to move to receiver. Granted a rare sixth season of eligibility the day before last year's opener, he completed his career with a unique stat line that included 26 touchdown passes thrown and 23 touchdown passes caught in his four seasons at Duquesne.