Nov. 5, 2013
Game Notes | Duquesne Streaming Audio | Live Stats | ESPN3
Game: #9 - Dukes vs. Pioneers showdown to air on ESPN3
DUQUESNE (5-3, 3-1) at SACRED HEART (8-2, 2-2)
Saturday, Nov. 9 at 12:00 p.m.
Campus Field (4,000/FieldTurf) Fairfield, Conn.
RADIO: WJAS-AM 1320 with Alex Panormios & Tad Maurey
STREAMING AUDIO: RedZoneMedia.com or GoDuquesne.com
LIVE VIDEO: www.ESPN3.com with Paul Dottino & Jeff Feagles
LIVE STATS: http://livestats.prestosports.com/sacredheart/
DUKES AT SACRED HEART FOR ESPN3 SHOWDOWN
Duquesne (5-3, 3-1), which remained firmly in the hunt for the Northeast Conference championship with a 21-10 win over Saint Francis last weekend, heads to Connecticut to face the surprise of the NEC, the Sacred Heart Pioneers (8-2, 2-2), on Saturday, Nov. 9 at 12:00 p.m. (WJAS-AM 1320) in a game that will be televised nationally on ESPN3 (Paul Dottino & Feff Feagles on the call). SHU, coming off a 24-21 non-conference home win over Monmouth last weekend, is also right in the mix for the title with a 2-2 conference record. The Pioneers, who were picked to finish seventh in the NEC preseason poll, opened the season with five consecutive wins and haven't looked back.
DUKES & PIONEERS
Duquesne has won six of eight meetings against Sacred Heart, including all three at SHU's Campus Field ... in five NEC meetings, Duquesne leads 4-1 ... last year, Sean Patterson ran for three touchdowns and threw for two more and Dorian Bell was a one man wrecking crew for the defense in a 35-3 home win ... Bell had 14 tackles, including 4.0 sacks (5.0 total tackles for loss) ... he also forced a fumble and added an interception as the Dukes held Sacred Heart to 215 total yards ... three of the past seven meetings - all Duquesne wins - have been decided on the game's final play: in 2006, SHU drove to the DU three with three seconds left but was unable to get a field goal snap down as time expired in a 24-21 Dukes win at Rooney Field ... in 2007 at Sacred Heart, Aaron Strader's interception in the end zone in overtime preserved a 30-23 victory ... in 2009, Charlie Leventry kicked a 31-yard field goal as time expired to cap a wild fourth quarter and give Duquesne a 45-42 win at Fairfield ... Leventry's heroics capped a fourth quarter that saw 45 combined points scored ... DU has held SHU to 444 total yards (222 ypg.) in the past two meetings.
Duquesne's defense has rallied to move up to 7th nationally in total defense (303.1). The Dukes have surrendered an average of 238 yards per game since giving up a season high 501 yards in a 59-17 loss at Youngstown State on Sept. 21. Duquesne ranks 5th nationally in fewest first downs allowed (126) and 17th in rushing defense (117.5). The most yards DU has allowed to an opposing rusher this is year is 92 (on 21 carries) by Wagner's Dominique Williams in a 34-7 Dukes win on Oct. 12.
ON SACRED HEART
Sacred Heart, like Duquesne, has been led by a Jerry Rice Award candidate quarterback in redshirt freshman R.J. Noel ... the Lowell, Mass native has thrown for 1,772 yards and 20 TDs with just 5 interceptions ... a dual-threat, the 6-1, 190-pounder has rushed for 503 yards and 6 TDs ... Five-ten, 230-pound junior Keshaudas Spence leads SHU with 1,183 yards (6.0 ypc.) and 9 TDs ... Sacred Heart leads the NEC in scoring offense (37.1), scoring defense (21.5), total offense (411.9), rushing offense (233.4) and rushing defense (106.6) among other categories ... SHU's +20 turnover margin, 15 fumbles recovered and 17 interceptions lead the nation.
DUQUESNE AT A GLANCE
Redshirt freshman quarterback Dillon Buechel (pronounced BEE-kull), who has earned NEC Rookie of the Week honors twice (Sept. 2 & 23), was named to the Jerry Rice Award Watch List (top FCS first-year player) on Oct. 9. Buechel has thrown for 1,891 yards and 10 TDs in his first eight collegiate games. The 6-3, 176-pounder from nearby Montour High School ranks second among freshmen - and 24th nationally - in passing yards per game (236.4 ypg.). Buechel came within five yards of becoming the first freshman in school history to throw for 300 yards in back-to-back games when he threw for 295 yards on Sept. 7 at Dayton. He followed that with 362 yards - three shy of the DU freshman record - at Youngstown State (he had 309 against Albany in the season opener on Aug. 31). Another WPIAL product, sophomore linebacker Christian Kuntz (Chartiers Valley) leads the team with 48 tackles each. Kuntz' 1.75 tackles for loss per game (14.0 on the season, including a team-high 5.5 sacks), rank 5th nationally. Redshirt freshman linebacker Aaron Reed, Buechel's high school teammate at Montour is tied with safety Rich Piekarski for second on the team with 47 stops each. Sophomore linebacker Sam Martello is close behind with 46 total tackles. Redshirt freshman Austin Crimmins made his first seven field goal attempts (30, 22, 26, 27, 30, 47, 23), before missing a 29-yarder at Robert Morris (he added a 40-yarder later in the game). Crimmins ranks 24th nationally in field goals per game (1.0) and 26th in FG pct. (8-of-10, .800). DU, coming off a season-best 165 yards on the ground vs. Saint Francis, is averaging 98.0 yards rushing and 241.1 yards passing per game. DU opponents are averaging 117.5 yards rushing and 185.6 yards passing per game.
TURNING UP THE DEFENSE
Duquesne's defense has been exceptional in conference play. In the Oct. 12 win over Wagner, DU held the Seahawks to three plays on seven of their final eight possessions. The one possession that wasn't a three-and-out was a five-play possession that was halted by a Chris Johnson interception. In the Oct. 19 win at Robert Morris, the defense recorded a pair of safeties in a 7:01 span of the third quarter. In the loss at Bryant, the defense gave up just one drive of 50 or more yards (Bryant scored two TDs directly off Duquesne turnovers). In the win over Saint Francis, the Dukes held the nation's leading rusher, Kyle Harbridge (173.7 ypg. entering the game) to 41 yards on 15 carries and the Red Flash to 131 total yards and seven first downs. In four NEC games, DU is giving up an average of 219.8 yards per game (233 vs. Wagner, 235 at Robert Morris, 280 at Bryant & 131 vs. Saint Francis).
Junior WR Devin Rahming (Miami, Fla./Coral Reef/Yuba College) has emerged as a receiving, punt return and kickoff return threat for the Dukes with a total of 427 all-purpose yards in the past four weeks. The Miami, Fla. native, who has 163 yards receiving, 117 on punt returns and 184 on kickoff returns (78.3 all-purpose yds/g.), returned a punt 62 yards for a TD against Wagner. It was DU's first punt return for a score since 1997. Against Robert Morris, he returned a pair of free kicks following safeties 78 yards to go along with career receiving highs for catches (6) and yards (86). He also recorded his first career TD catch (a 26-yarder) against the Colonials. He added 64 all purpose yards at Bryant and 65 vs. Saint Francis..
Duquesne, which posted a safety 12 seconds into its season-opening win over Albany, added two more safeties in a span of 7:01 of the third quarter in its 21-20 win at Robert Morris on Oct. 19. In all, the Dukes defense has scored six times this season. In addition to the three safeties, DU returned two interceptions for scores and recovered a fumble in the end zone on Oct. 5 against West Liberty. The Dukes are 3-0 when the defense scores.
DUQUESNE'S WRECKING BALL
Going into Duquesne's Nov. 2 game with Saint Francis, Duquesne fullback Ethan Dorsey (Sykesville, Md./Liberty) was better known for the punishing blocks that helped Larry McCoy become the school's all-time leading rusher. In fact, in his first three seasons - the past two as a starter - Dorsey carried the ball exactly three times for six yards while taking great pride in helping clear the way for McCoy's 4,549 yards. With McCoy graduated, Dorsey has emerged as an offensive weapon in the past two weeks. The 257-pounder opened eyes with a 40-yard TD run late in the Oct. 11 win over Wagner. He carried seven times for 26 yards and a TD at Bryant before exploding for a hard-earned 65 yards on 20 carries in the win over Saint Francis. Dorsey, who entered the SFU game with 15 career carries, outrushed SFU's Kyle Harbridge - the nation's leading rusher at the time at 173.7 ypg. - by 24 yards.
BUCK BUCHANAN AWARD WATCH
Duquesne senior linebacker Dorian Bell (Monroeville, Pa./Gateway/Ohio State) was one of 20 FCS players named to the preseason Buck Buchanan Award Watch List by the Sports Network. The Buchanan award is presented annually to the top defensive player in the FCS. Bell, a third-year Ohio State transfer, saw a six-game double-digit tackle streak snapped in the opener vs. Albany. Bell, who was credited with 3 tackles, recovered a key fumble in the third quarter. The recovery was followed by a 29-yard touchdown pass that gave the Dukes a 29-10 lead in what became a 35-24 win over the Great Danes. Bell added a team-high 10 tackles at Youngstown State and forced a fumble on a sack that was recovered by the Dukes and turned into 10-yard TD pass on the next play in the win at Robert Morris. He added 3.0 tackles for losses totaling seven yards in the loss at Bryant. The Buchanan Award Watch List can undergo revision during the 2013 season. Ballots will be sent to a panel of about 175 sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries following the regular season. The winner will be invited to The Sports Network FCS Awards Presentation on Dec. 16.
Three players with BCS game experience are on the 2-deep: back-up RB Jason Douglas (Pitt prior to one year at Fullerton College), starting LB Dorian Bell (Ohio State) and starting S Chris Johnson (Florida) have all played in a BCS game. Back-up CB Ken Egu ran track and was on the football team at Washington, but did not see action.
Captains for the 2013 season are: senior DL Reggie Eiland (Accokeek, Md./Gwynn Park), senior OL Nick Redden (Clearfield, Pa./Clearfield Area) and senior WR Gianni Carter (Eugene, Ore./Marist). A fourth captain will be named for each game.
DU is 18-10 in NEC play over the past three seasons (5-3 in 2010, 7-1 in 2011, 3-5 in 2012 & 3-1 this 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 defeated every team in the NEC under current head coach Jerry Schmitt.
Twelve freshmen have seen action this season: QB Dillon Buechel (RS), WR Chavas Rawlins, CB Sterling Parks, spec teams Xavier Nelson (RS), spec teams Anthony Alimenti (RS), LB Aaron Reed (RS), OL Larson Graham (RS), PK Austin Crimmins (RS), PR Bobby Gustine, TE Kevin Enright (RS), DL Jake Radziukinas (RS) & RB Zach DeNardo (RS). Buechel, Reed, Graham and Crimmins have started every game.
In addition, nine first-year players have seen action in 2013, with four having started at least once: SS Chris Johnson, DB Nick Floyd, OL Ezek Suivaaia & LB Austin Whalen.
Redshirt freshman Dillon Buechel, who has completed 62.6 percent of his passes for 1,891 yards and 10 touchdowns, has a 126.73 efficiency rating. The first freshman to open the season under center since 2005 (Scott Knapp), Buechel earned NEC co-Offensive Player of the Week honors after throwing for 309 yards and two TDs in the season-opening win over Albany and earned ROW honors a second time after throwing for 362 yards in the loss at Youngstown State. Buechel is replacing Sean Patterson, who started 33 consecutive games from 2010-12 (536-955-63-6,762-28). Patterson accounted for over 95 percent of DU's pass attempts, passing yards and touchdown passes since 2010. Buechel beat out senior Marty Mitchell - the only quarterback on the roster who had attempted a college pass entering the season - for the starting job.
Senior Dorian Bell is spending considerable time in opposing backfields. The All-American LB (35 total tackles) has 5.0 tackles for loss including 2.0 sacks. He also has a team-high four quarterback hurries. Bell had a team-high 3.0 TFL at Bryant.
Sophomore LB Christian Kuntz, DU's leader in tackles (48), leads the Dukes in TFL (14.0) and sacks (5.5). He ranks 5th nationally in tackles for loss per game at 1.75. Kuntz earned NEC co-Defensive Player of the Week honors on Nov. 4 after posting 3.0 tackles for loss, deflecting a pass that was intercepted and causing a fumble on a sack in the win over Saint Francis.
LB Sam Martello earned NEC co-Defensive Player of the Week honors on Sept. 2 after helping force a safety on the first play from scrimmage and adding a sack and forced fumble in the third quarter of the Aug. 31 win over Albany. He followed that with 10 stops, including 3.0 tackles for loss (2.0 sacks) and a fumble recovery at Dayton. Martello ranks fourth on the team in tackles (46) and is tied with Christian Kuntz for the team lead with two fumbles forced.
315-pound tackle Zach Zidian is a big reason linebackers rank first, tied for second and fourth on the team in total tackles. The Youngstown, Ohio native - when he isn't occupying multiple offensive linemen - has 30 stops of his own (including 4.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks). In addition, Zidian has shown a nose for the football with a team-high three fumble recoveries.
Junior safety Rich Piekarski, who is tied for second on the team with 47 tackles, leads the team with two interceptions and five passes broken up.
Junior Ryan Ho (109-344-4) has rushed for 344 yards and four TDs in eight games. He and senior Jason Douglas (62-234-0 this year) are filling the shoes of all-time rushing leader Larry McCoy (956-4,549-37). McCoy's 4,549 yards are the second-most in NEC history.
Duquesne, which welcomed back 13 position starters, lost five of its last six to finish 5-6 last season (3-5 in the NEC). All five of DU's NEC losses were by seven or fewer points (the average margin of defeat was -5.0 ppg.).
DU is facing former NEC members Albany (W, 35-24) and Monmouth (Nov. 23). Albany is competing in the Colonial Athletic Association, while Monmouth will be an independent this season before joining the Big South in 2014. With the NEC departure of Albany and Monmouth, DU is playing five non-conference games: Albany (W, 35-24, Colonial Athletic Association), Dayton (L, 20-23, Pioneer Football League), Youngstown State (L, 17-59), Missouri Valley Football Conference), West Liberty (W, 27-14, Division II Mountain East Conference) and Monmouth (Independent).