@ DUQFB Travels to William & Mary for First FCS Playoff Appearance
Nov. 25, 2015
DUKES AND TRIBE: This is the first meeting between Duquesne and William & Mary.
NEC IN THE FCS PLAYOFFS: This is the sixth season that the Northeast Conference has received an automatic bid to the NCAA FCS Playoffs. The NEC is 1-5 all-time and 1-4 in the opening round with Wagner capturing the lone win with a 31-20 victory over Colgate in 2012. Duquesne is the fifth different team to represent the conference with Sacred Heart being the only team to qualify twice (2013, 2014).
LAST WEEK FOR DU: Duquesne improved to 8-3 overall and 5-1 in Northeast Conference play with a 30-20 NEC title-clinching victory over Saint Francis on Senior Day. Rafiq Douglas led the Dukes with 165 yards rushing on 28 carries (5.9 ypc) and three touchdowns. Chris King became the University’s all-time leader in career receptions with 163 as he hauled in seven catches for 95 yards. Wayne Capers had four receptions for 104 yards, including a 62-yard scoring grab with 30 seconds remaining in the first half.
ABOUT WILLIAM & MARY: The 13th-ranked Tribe are 8-3 and were tri-champs of the Colonial Athletic Association with a 6-2 record. Under the 36th-year direction of Jimmye Laycock, W&M is making its 10th NCAA Playoff appearance and first since 2010. The Tribe are led by seven First Team All-CAA honorees, including Co-Defensive Player of the Year, senior defensive back DeAndre Houston-Carson and Special Teams Player of the Year, sophomore RS/WR DeVonte Dedmon. Last week, William & Mary lost to league champion Richmond, 20-9.
SCHMITT AN FCS COTY FINALIST: Head coach Jerry Schmitt was recently named one of 15 finalists for the STATS FCS Coach of the Year award. Schmitt, who has a 96-71 career record as a head coach and a 68-50 mark at Duquesne, has taken a 2014 team that went 6-6 overall and 2-4 in NEC play to the FCS Play-offs for the first time in University history this season. The Dukes had previously tied for the NEC regular season title in 2011 and 2013, but lost the tiebreaker for the play-off bid.
NATIONALLY RANKED: Duquesne is listed among the FCS top 20 in several team statistical categories. Among those are being 5th in the nation in red zone defense (.630), 7th in scoring defense (16.3 ppg), 7th in turnover margin (1.00), 11th in red zone offense (.875), 12th in sacks (2.91), and 19th in third down defense (.329). All of these rank first or second in the NEC. Individually, the Dukes have several players ranked among the top 20 nationally as well, including Christian Kuntz who is 3rd in tackles for loss with 2.1 per game and 18th in sacks her game with 0.73. Austin Crimmins is 13th in field goals per game with 1.27 and Rafiq Douglas is 20th in rushing touchdowns with 11.
CLIMBING THE RECORD BOOKS: Juniors Austin Crimmins and Dillon Buechel as well as senior Chris King have recently climbed their ways onto Duquesne’s all-time career leaders list. Crimmins has sole possession of the top spot in career field goals made with 42. The placekicker was good on a Duquesne single season record 15 as a freshman, had 13 last year and currently has 14 this season as well. He is also second all-time in career points by a kicker with 217 and tied for fourth in career PAT’s with 91. Buechel is second all-time in completions with 560 and second in attempts with 964. He is also third in career pass completion percentage at .581, third in yards at 7,042 (just 271 yards out of second) and fifth in career touchdowns with 46 which is one shy of fourth place. With his seven receptions versus Saint Francis, King became Duquesne’s all-time leader in career receptions with 163. He is also sixth in career touchdown receptions with 23, needing two more to tie for fifth place.
SUCCESSIVE STARTS: Senior nose tackle Zach Zidian is scheduled to make his team-leading 45th consecutive start today. After coming off the bench in his collegiate debut, he has started every game since then. He is followed by senior linebacker Sam Martello with 36 straight starts and junior offensive lineman Larson Graham with 34. Senior offensive lineman Dan Buchholz, senior defensive lineman Dane O’Driscoll and sophomore linebacker Nathan Stone all have 23 consecutive starts, all 12 games last year and the first 11 of this season.
ABOUT DUQUESNE: Last year, DU finished 6-6 overall and finished fifth in the Northeast Conference with a 2-4 record. Duquesne returns 14 position starters from last year’s team, seven on offense and seven on defense. This is Duquesne’s eighth season as a scholarship-granting football program. With the move to the NEC, Duquesne offered 18 scholarships in February of 2008. That number has increased to 37. 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 sixth season the NEC regular season champion will be an automatic qualifier for the Division I Football Championship.
MORE ON DUQUESNE: The Dukes were predicted to finish second in the seven-team Northeast Conference in 2015 ... senior wide receiver Chris King was named a STATS FCS Preseason Second Team All-American ... Duquesne had five players named to the NEC Pre-Season All-Conference team in junior defensive back Trenton Coles, senior wide receiver Chris King, senior linebacker Sam Martello, sophomore linebacker Nathan Stone and senior defensive lineman Zach Zidian ... junior quarterback Dillon Buechel, who missed most of the second part of last season due to injury, is looking to rebound to his record-setting freshman year after throwing for 14 touchdown passes in each of the last two seasons.
NATIONAL EXPOSURE: Duquesne is slated to play twice on ESPN3 this season. Thanks to the Northeast Conference’s television package, Duquesne’s game at Bryant on Oct. 17 was aired on the trey as will its season finale on Nov. 21 as the Dukes host Saint Francis at Rooney Field. Neither of these games will be available on NECFrontRow.com.
CAPTAINS: Duquesne’s captains for the 2015 season are senior OL Dan Buchholz (Malvern Pa./Great Valley), junior QB Dillon Buechel (McKees Rocks, Pa./Montour), senior WR Chris King (Crofton, Md. DeMatha Catholic), junior linebacker Christian Kuntz (Pittsburgh, Pa./Chartiers Valley), senior linebacker Sam Martello (Westlake, Ohio/St. Edward) and senior DL Zach Zidian (Youngstown, Ohio/Boardman).
FBS INFLUENCE: Six players who were previously on FBS rosters are on the Duquesne roster in 2015, including four who saw FBS playing time during their careers and were on the Dukes’ opening day 2-deep: senior WR Wayne Capers, Jr. (Arizona), junior DB Trenton Coles (Pittsburgh), senior WR Dominique Terrell (Virginia) and senior ILB Armstead Williams (Purdue) had all played in a FBS game prior to coming to Duquesne. Redshirt sophomore Matt Barone OL (Temple) and redshirt sophomore LB Carter Henderson (Penn State) were also previously on FBS rosters.
QUICK START WHEN IT COUNTS: Duquesne’s football team, which joined the Northeast Conference in 2008, is 7-1 in NEC openers. The Dukes won its initial NEC game at home versus Saint Francis, 21-7 in 2008 before falling at Monmouth in year two, 17-10. Since then, DU has won its last six NEC openers dating back to its 2010, 28-17 win over Albany.
2015 AWARDS: In addition to the 2015 NEC Pre-season All-Conference accolades listed to the right, senior wide receiver Chris King was also named a 2015 STATS FCS Preseason Second Team All-American. The 2014 Sports Network Third Team All-American and NEC First Team All-Conference honoree led the NEC and was 7th in the country in receiving yards per game with 102.5. He also led the Dukes last season with 14 touchdown receptions. Freshman running back P.J. Fulmore was named the NEC Rookie of the Week on Sept. 14. He led the Dukes in rushing for a second straight week in a 26-7 victory at Bucknell, carrying the ball 11 times for 87 yards (7.9 ypc) and rushing for four first downs. On Oct. 5, senior running back Klartel Claridy was named the NEC Offensive Player of the Week. This accolade came after a career-best 123-yard outing with two first quarter touchdowns in a 27-10 win over CCSU. Following the Oct. 24, 16-7 victory over Robert Morris, the Dukes had two NEC Player of the Week honorees. Sophomore running back Rafiq Douglas was named the NEC Offensive Player of the Week. He posted career highs of 32 carries, 172 yards, four receptions and 31 receiving yards in the win. In addition, junior placekicker Austin Crimmins was named the NEC Co-Special Teams Player of the Week. He accounted for 10 of DU’s 16 points in the win by making field goals of 29, 45 and 44 yards to go with an extra point. He also forced four touchbacks on five kick-offs. On Nov. 2, two more Dukes earned NEC accolades as Douglas was once again honored as Offensive POW and senior nose tackle Zach Zidian was tabbed Defensive POW. Douglas rushed 24 times for a new career high of 191 yards and scored a career-best three touchdowns. Zidian, who was also named Stats LLC Defensive Player of the Week Honorable Mention, had a career-high 14 tackles (11 solo) as well as a sack of eight yards and a fumble recovery. On Nov. 9, DU made it three straight weeks with two NEC awards as Dillon Buechel was named the league’s Offensive Player of the Week and Christian Kuntz was tabbed the conference Defensive Player of the Week. Buechel was 22-37 for 320 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions in a 41-14 win at Sacred heart while Kuntz logged a game-high nine tackles (5 solo) and picked off an SHU screen pass and returned it nine yards for a touchdown. On Nov. 23 Douglas received his third NEC Offensive POW award and Kuntz tallied his second straight NEC Defensive POW honor. Douglas, who was also tabbed the STATS FCS National Offensive Player of the Week, rushed for 165 yards and three touchdowns in the NEC title clinching 30-20 victory over Saint Francis. Kuntz registered six tackles (5 solo), two sacks and 2.5 tackles for a loss of 17 yards, giving him 23 TFL’s for the season, second best in the country.
NEW KIDS ON THE BLUFF: In addition to the 17 incoming freshmen, Duquesne added Virginia transfer Dominique Terrell and Penn State transfer Carter Henderson to its roster for the 2015 season. Terrell is a fifth year wide receiver who will also be a part of DU’s return game. He played in 37 games for Virginia from 2011-13 before redshirting in 2014. Henderson, a redshirt sophomore linebacker and 2013 graduate of Franklin Regional High School, was on the Penn State roster for two seasons, but did not see any game action.
NEW FACES ON THE SIDELINE: Head coach Jerry Schmitt added two new staff members for 2015, both of which have previous ties to the program. Terry Russell (‘75), who has been affiliated with Duquesne football for over 30 years as a player, assistant and head coach, returns to the DU sidelines in 2015. Russell, who had been away from the program for six-years prior to re-joining Jerry Schmitt’s staff, will coach the running backs this year. Russell, who was an integral part of DU’s 1973 Club Championship team, played for the Dukes from 1971-74. He also served as Duquesne’s head coach from 1984-87 - taking the reins for Dan McCann who was on a medical leave of absence. This is Russell’s 24th season as an assistant at Duquesne. Khiry Carter (‘11) makes his collegiate coaching debut as a defensive backs coach for his alma mater. Carter, who played for the Dukes as a defensive back from 2008-2011, brings a wealth of DB experience and knowledge to the Red and Blue in 2015. Carter played in 42 career games for the Dukes, making 27 starts. He accumulated 168 tackles (93 solo) and had three interceptions and nine pass break-ups.
SURPASSING A LEGEND: In 2013, head coach Jerry Schmitt surpassed the legendary Elmer Layden on Duquesne’s all-time coaching victories list. Layden - one of Notre Dame’s famed “Four Horsemen” - coached at Duquesne for seven seasons from 1927-33. It was under Layden that the Dukes first became recognized as a national football power. After leading DU to a 10-1-0 record and an appearance in the 1934 Festival of Palms Bowl, Layden left Duquesne to take over head coaching duties at Notre Dame. Duquesne’s all-time wins leader is Greg Gattuso, who preceded Schmitt at DU. Gattuso, who led the Dukes to eight Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Football League titles and a I-AA Mid-Major National Championship in 2003, is currently the head coach at Albany.
DU’S EIGHTH SEASON IN THE NEC: Duquesne, a member of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Football League from 1994 to 2007, is beginning its eighth season as an associate member of the Northeast Conference Football League. With the move to the NEC, Duquesne offered 18 scholarships beginning in February of 2008. That number currently rests at 36. Duquesne granted only need-based financial aid for football playing student-athletes as a member of the MAAC. 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. Duquesne started its program in 1902 and competed at the highest level - winning a pair of New Year’s Day Bowl games (1934 Festival of Palms and 1937 Orange) - before disbanding following the 1950 season. DU returned at the Club level prior to the 1969 season and won a National Club Championship in 1973. The Dukes competed at the NCAA Division III level from 1979-92 before moving up to the non-scholarship Football Championship Subdivision in 1993. The NEC Football League, which was established in 1996, includes full-time conference members Bryant University, Central Connecticut State University, Robert Morris University, Sacred Heart University, Saint Francis (Pa.) University and Wagner College along with associate member Duquesne University.
IN NON-CONFERENCE PLAY: Duquesne is 29-21 in non-conference games under 11th-year head coach Jerry Schmitt with wins over Dayton (four times), Robert Morris (three times prior to joining the NEC), Bucknell (three), Monmouth (twice) and Fordham (twice). At home, the Dukes are 19-2 in non-league play under Schmitt, while on the road Schmitt’s Dukes have fashioned an 8-19 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 3-2 in non-conference games in 2013 and finished 4-2 last year.