Sept. 6, 2017
Duquesne is coming off a 51-13 defeat at the hands of No. 4 South Dakota State last week. The Jackrabbits were the highest-ranked FCS opponent the Dukes have ever faced.
Valparaiso dropped a 45-23 decision at Montana in the season opener last week. The Crusaders tallied 450 yards of total offense in the contest, including 327 passing yards.
Graduate transfer quarterback Tommy Stuart completed 14 passes for 180 yards with a pair of touchdowns in his Dukes debut at South Dakota State.
Duquesne enters 2017 after posting an 8-3 ledger in 2016 which saw the Dukes capture their fourth Northeast Conference title in the last six seasons with a 5-1 ledger in league action. Duquesne was tabbed as the 2017 preseason NEC favorite.
One of the key returners for the Dukes is the reigning Jerry Rice Award winner in running back A.J. Hines, who rushed for a Duquesne freshman-record 1,291 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2016.
Also returning is a pair of Preseason All-FCS selections in offensive lineman Ben Huss and linebacker Nathan Stone. Huss was a Third Team STATS FCS All-American in 2016 while Stone, a three-year All-NEC performer, has started all 35 games of his career.
The Last Meeting
September 15, 2012
Dukes Shut Down Valpo, 45-17
Larry McCoy scored three touchdowns and tied the school record with his 21st career 100 yard game and Sean Patterson completed 20-of-25 passes for 260 yards and a pair of TDs as Duquesne rallied from a 17-7 first quarter deficit to complete the non-conference portion of the schedule with a 45-17 win at Valparaiso.
The Dukes (0-1) and Crusaders (0-1) will square off in game two of the 2017 season on Saturday, Sept. 9 at 1pm CT at Brown Field in Valparaiso, Ind.
Duquesne is coming off a 51-13 loss in week one at perennial power South Dakota State. The Jackrabbits came into the contest fourth in the STATS FCS Top 25, the highest-ranked FCS opponent the Dukes have ever faced. South Dakota State lived up to its preseason rank, as the defending Missouri Valley Football Conference (MVFC) champion recorded 609 yards of total offense in the win.
Graduate transfer quarterback Tommy Stuart (Baltimore, Md./Calvert Hall/Boise State) made his debut for Duquesne in the season opener at South Dakota State, completing 14-of-22 passes for 180 yards with a pair of touchdowns and an interception. It marked Stuart's first career start after playing for two seasons at Boise State.
Both teams are seeking their first wins of the season on Saturday, as Valparaiso fell by a score of 45-23 on the road at Montana last week. The Crusaders tallied 450 yards of total offense, including 200 all-purpose yards by redshirt-freshman quarterback Chris Duncan.
Duquesne posted an 8-3 record last season with a 5-1 mark in Northeast Conference play, earning a share of the conference crown. The Dukes have captured at least a share of the NEC title in four of the last six seasons. (2011, 2013, 2015, 2016). Duquesne returns 13 position starters entering the 2017 season (five on offense, eight on defense).
The Dukes are 32-25 in non-conference games under 13th-year head coach Jerry Schmitt with wins over Robert Morris (three times prior to joining the NEC), Dayton (six times), Bucknell (four times), Fordham (twice), Albany (once as a CAA member) and Monmouth (as an independent). At home, the Dukes are 22-3 in non-league play.
Head coach Jerry Schmitt entered the fall looking to develop a replacement for four-year starting quarterback Dillon Buechel (McKees Rocks, Pa./Montour). Buechel, who finished his career as the NEC all-time passing leader with 10,320 yards, threw for 75 touchdowns as a three-time All-NEC player. The 2016 Walter Payton Award finalist led the Dukes to three Northeast Conference championships (2013-co, 2015 & 2016-co) and the school's first FCS Playoff appearance (2015).
Stuart is working with a talented - but young - receiving corps led by junior Nehari Crawford (30-359-3). Gone are starting wideouts Wayne Capers (Pittsburgh, Pa./Chartiers Valley/Arizona) (51-959, 9 TDs) and Blair Roberts (Rochester, N.Y./Trinity-Pawling/Old Dominion) (47-782, 8 TDs).
An area of strength should be the running game with Jerry Rice Award-winning sophomore RB A.J. Hines (Wilson, N.C./Fike ) (1,296 yards and 13 TDs) and junior P.J. Fulmore (Pittsburgh, Pa./North Catholic) (355 yards and two TDs) returning.
The 5-11, 225-pound Hines, who entered the season as the nation's fifth-leading returning rusher (117.4 ypg.), and the 5-7, 200-pound Fulmore, will be running behind a veteran offensive line led by senior guard Ben Huss (Upper St. Clair, Pa./Upper St. Clair), a Third Team STATS FCS All-American and three-time All-NEC player as well as junior guard Matt Fitzpatrick (Pennsauken, N.J./Bishop Eustace), a second team All-NEC pick. Junior left tackle Alex Conley (Akron, Ohio/Walsh Jesuit ) is the third returning starter on the o-line.
Duquesne returns its top two tacklers in senior linebackers Carter Henderson (Murrysville, Pa./Franklin Regional/Penn State ) (90 tackles) and Nathan Stone (Scottdale, Pa./Greensburg Central Catholic ) (73 tackles). The pair combined for 15.5 tackles for loss (7.5 by Henderson and 8.0 by Stone). Henderson and Stone, who started all 11 games last season, will help ease the loss of three-time All-American and NEC all-time sack leader Christian Kuntz (Pittsburgh, Pa./Chartiers Valley).
Redshirt junior safety Abner Roberts, who finished fourth on the team with 59 tackles and led the team with eight passes broken up, will anchor an experienced secondary that includes returning starters junior Jonathant Istache (Belle Glade, Fla./Glades Central) (CB), redshirt junior Daquan Worley (Coatesville, Pa./Coatesville/Penn State) (CB) and junior Brandon Stanback (Harisburg, Pa./Bishop McDevitt/Buffalo) (S). Redshirt senior nickel back Malik Shegog (Aliquippa, Pa./Aliquippa) (CB) is also back.
The Dukes will need to find a replacement for P/PK Austin Crimmins (Ebensburg, Pa./Central Cambria), who was the starting placekicker for four years (school record 57 career field goals) and three-year starting punter (school record 38.5 avg). Redshirt sophomore John Domit (Greensburg, Pa./Hempfield) finished spring ball as the leader to placekicking duties, while fellow redshirt sophomore Mitch MacZura (Pittsburgh, Pa./Central Catholic/Ohio State) enters the fall as the leading candidate to take over at punter.
Duquesne is 31-17 in NEC play over the past seven seasons. The Dukes went 4-11 in their first two years in the conference while making the transition to a scholarship model. DU is 10-2 in NEC play over the past two years.
This marks the third meeting between the Dukes and Crusaders and the first since the 2012 season.
Duquesne owns a 2-0 advantage in the series, claiming wins of 45-17 in 2012 in Valparaiso and 49-14 in 2011 in Pittsburgh.
In 2012, the Dukes rallied from a 17-7 first quarter deficit, scoring 38 unanswered points en route to the victory. Running back Larry McCoy scored three touchdowns and tied the school record with his 21st career 100-yard game while quarterback Sean Patterson completed 20-of-25 passes for 260 yards and a pair of TDs for Duquesne. The Dukes held Valparaiso to 115 yards over the final three quarters in the contest.
In 2011, Duquesne outgained the Crusaders 628-188 in the win, including a 425-26 advantage on the ground. Larry McCoy paced the Dukes with 164 yards while Bill Blair came off the bench to add a career-high 154 yards. Duquesne had two 100-yard rushers in the same game for the first time since a 46-0 win at La Salle in 2002. Sean Patterson completed 12-of-18 passes for 181 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another in just over two quarters of action for the Dukes
The Crusaders were picked to finish 10th in the 11-team Pioneer Football League (PFL). Valparaiso finished 4-7 in 2016 with a 3-5 mark in PFL play.
The Crusaders landed three players on the 2017 Preseason All-PFL team, including senior running back Jarrett Morgan, junior linebacker Drew Snouffer and sophomore return specialist Bailey Gessinger.
Morgan played in 10 games and led Valpo in rushing with 576 net yards as a junior while serving as the
Crusaders' primary starting running back. He averaged 3.7 yards per carry and 57.6 yards per game on the ground while running for two touchdowns.
Snouffer led the Crusaders and ranked fourth in the PFL with 9.3 tackles per game and was one of only four players in the league to reach the 100-tackle mark.
Gessinger had two kickoff returns for touchdowns in 2016 to go with 24.4 yards per kickoff return and a league-best 757 return yards.
The Crusaders are led by fourth-year head coach Dave Cecchini, who has compiled a 9-25 career record for Valparaiso.
Cecchini spent time as an assistant coach at his alma mater Lehigh, the Citadel and Harvard. As a player, he was an All-American wide receiver at Lehigh.
The Crusaders return nine starters on offense and seven on defense from a year ago.
LAST TIME OUT
#4/6 South Dakota State 51, Duquesne 13 - Duquesne dropped a 51-13 decision to perennial power South Dakota State in the 2017 season opener last Thursday night at Dana J. Dykhouse Stadium.
Graduate transfer quarterback Tommy Stuart (Baltimore, Md./Calvert Hall/Boise State) completed 14-of-22 passes for 175 yards with a pair of touchdowns and an interception in his Duquesne debut.
Sophomore running back A.J. Hines (Wilson, N.C./Fike) was held to 13 carries for 34 yards on the night.
Senior wide receiver Chavas Rawlins (Monessen, Pa./Monessen/West Virginia) paced the Dukes with six receptions for 83 yards, both figures representing a career-high.
Senior defensive back Malik Shegog (Aliquippa, Pa./Aliquippa) recorded his seventh career interception for Duquesne in the second quarter.
The game's attendance of 12,218 marked the sixth-largest road crowd the Dukes played in front of at the FCS level.
Montana 45, Valparaiso 23 - Valparaiso held the lead midway through the second quarter and faced just a four-point halftime deficit, but Big Sky foe Montana pulled away for a 45-23 victory on Saturday.
The Crusaders finished with 450 total yards highlighted by 327 passing yards. Quarterbacks Jimmy Seewald and Chris Duncan split time under center, as Seewald started and was 12-of-28 for 177 yards with an interception, and Duncan went 8-of-14 for 150 yards with a pair of touchdowns and a pick. Duncan also paced Valpo on the ground with 50 yards on 13 carries in his collegiate debut.
Griffin Norberg led the Crusaders with 104 receiving yards on four catches with a touchdown, while Donny Navarro added three receptions for 93 yards and a score. J.J. Nunes recorded 10 tackles (three solo) to go with an interception and a pass breakup to lead the Valpo defense on the day.