It was only a matter of time before the Duquesne Dukes started the season in an 0-2 hole.
The way their offense had moved the ball for over three quarters against the Dayton Flyers, things didn’t look good at all for the Dukes. But for Jerry Schmitt’s team, it was only a matter of time- until quarterback Sean Patterson got going and led Duquesne to a come-from-behind 17-7 victory.
“With a guy like Sean back there, we just wanted to stick to our game plan,” said Schmitt. “He’s a veteran leader and a playmaker. We knew if we kept giving him opportunities then he would step up and make plays and that’s exactly what he did.”
This season it’s even more important for Patterson to be the leader of this Duquesne team. The Dukes are a young team, losing a lot of talent from a team that finished tied for the NEC regular season crown a year ago. To make things even tougher on the senior quarterback, the Dukes lost over 90 percent of their receiving yards from last season.
But Patterson knows the task at hand if the Dukes are to take another run at the NEC championship.
“We are a very young team,” said Patterson. “It’s very important for me to be a leader. These guys look at me to do so and because they look at me, I have to be the guy that takes responsibility and steps up and make plays for us.”
That certainly was the case against Dayton.
Trailing 7-3 in the fourth quarter, Patterson was an efficient 12-for-20 throwing the ball for 111 yards through three quarters. However the big play was missing. But just as his coach said, if you keep giving Patterson opportunities, he will come through.
After Patterson was intercepted deep in his own territory, the Duquesne defense held Dayton to a missed field goal, giving Patterson the opportunity he was looking for. The senior from Toledo, Ohio took over completing 5-of-5 pass attempts for 68 yards on the Dukes go-ahead drive. He completed a 23-yarder to Noel Oduho, a 19-yarder to Brian Pommerer and an 18-yard touchdown to Gianni Carter in which Patterson held his ground in the pocket and took a big shot on the throw; just like a veteran quarterback should.
“I didn’t even see him catch it,” said Patterson. “I just heard the crowd reaction. I threw it to where I thought Gianni was supposed to be and I was told he made a great catch. We’ve got some young guys stepping up and making plays for us, which is big for us as an offense.”
Patterson also moved the chains on the go-ahead drive with an 11-yard run, 11 of the 53 he finished with on the day.
He’s become a dual threat who can hurt teams with both his arm and his legs. As a junior, Patterson threw for 2,011 yards and rushed for 553, making him a difficult matchup against any team the Dukes will face.
As a junior, Patterson became only the fourth Duquesne quarterback to throw for over 2,000 yards in consecutive seasons, which earned him All-NEC Second Team honors.
He enters his senior season, fourth among all FCS returning quarterbacks in touchdowns thrown (46, before the 2012 season) and among the top five returning signal callers, Patterson’s 18 interceptions is the fewest. Patterson is also Duquesne’s most accurate passer in the program’s history (.551) and ranked fourth in touchdowns, fifth in passing yards (4,403), sixth in attempts (614) and completions (338) entering the 2012 campaign.
“Sean’s a playmaker,” said Duquesne running back Larry McCoy. “His career so far speaks for itself. We feed off him as a team. He can make plays with his arm or his legs and when he does, we all want to make plays for him.”
Patterson’s numbers are outstanding, but his best trait is the fact that he wins football games. Including two games this season, Patterson is 14-4 in his last 18 starts. He’s proven to be a guy the Dukes can lean on, especially when things aren’t going good.
“We just want to win football games,” said Patterson. “We do it as a team. The defense played great and I have Larry and some other guys stepping up and making plays. If we continue to do that, I think we will grow as an offense and as a team. I feel this offense is capable of doing some good things this season.”
The Dukes will try to build off last week’s win when they travel to Valparaiso on Saturday. When they do, you can bet they will be leaning on Patterson to lead them.
Photo Credit: Duquesne