After a season opening loss to Old Dominion, Jerry Schmitt’s Duquesne Dukes have rebounded nicely by putting a three-game win streak over the likes of Dayton, Valparaiso and Bryant University.
Duquesne will try it make it four in a row when they return home Saturday to host Saint Francis for Homecoming at Rooney Field.
In addition to looking to extend their three game win streak, the Dukes will be looking to extend a six-game conference win streak that dates back to last season. After last week’s win over Bryant, Duquesne has won six straight NEC contests.
The Red Flash come into Saturday’s NEC clash with a 2-2 mark on the season, defeating Bryant (39-28) at home and a road win at Morehead State (57-23). Their two losses came at the hands of nationally ranked teams in nationally ranked teams James Madison (55-7) and Towson (46-17). Duquesne holds a 32-6 advantage in a series that dates back to 1913 and have won 12 of 13 meetings since moving to the FCS level in 1993; including a 41-14 victory last season.
Similar to last week’s game against Bryant, beating the Red Flash could come down to simply establishing the run and stopping Saint Francis’ rushing attack.
Larry McCoy has been tremendous all season for the Dukes, totaling 498 yards on the season on 97 carries (5.1 YPC) and seven touchdowns through four games. In the three Dukes wins, McCoy has averaged 149.7 yards per game and scored six touchdowns. Overall, McCoy ranks 13th nationally with 125.4 yards per game.
In addition, McCoy continues to climb up the Duquesne record book. His 154-yard performance last week against Bryant made him the all-time Dukes leader in 100-yard games with 22. The senior running back needs only 23 yards to reach the 4,000 yard mark and 284 to pass Donte Small (4,260 from 1998-01) and become DU’s all-time leading rusher.
Establishing McCoy early and often will be a big plus for the Dukes, but quarterback Sean Patterson has been tremendous this season, completing 69-of-108 (63 percent) of his pass attempts for 788 yards and six touchdowns. Patterson has really stepped it up the past two weeks, completing 42-of-61 passes for 507 yards and four touchdowns to only one interception.
Saint Francis will make it a point to try and run the football, which makes it a must for the Duke’s defense to slow the Red Flash down.
Saint Francis averages 30.0 points per game and has the nation’s sixth most prolific rushing offense at 271.3 ypg. but has their pass offense ranks pass offense ranks 117th of 121 schools at 86.3 ypg. Getting the Red Flash into second and third-and-long situations will be big for the Dukes defense, which is coming along rather nicely.
The Duquesne defense has been bending early but not breaking. Their second half performances during their three-game win streak have been nothing short of outstanding. After allowing 47 second-half points in the season-opening 57-23 loss at Old Dominion, Duquesne has surrendered just one second half touchdown (in the third quarter at Bryant) in its past three games.
Once it gets to be the second half, the Dukes step things up and make big plays. They have nine interceptions through four games and last week picked off a pass and recovered a pair of fumbles in the second half. The Dukes offense feeds off their defense, so the big play could be on the menu Saturday afternoon as Duquesne looks for their fourth consecutive win.
Photo Credit: Duquesne