Duquesne football pulls out a win in the end
Published: Thursday, September 13, 2012
Updated: Thursday, September 13, 2012 00:09
The Duquesne football team was outplayed by Dayton for three quarters, but surged late to capture a 17-7 victory at Rooney Field Saturday afternoon.
The Dukes’ defense allowed a single touchdown and was led by All-American safety Serge Kona, who had nine tackles, seven of which were solo tackles, and an interception to seal the game with 15 seconds left.
The Dukes claimed control of the game after being down 7-3 with just over a minute left in the third quarter by forcing a 40-yard field goal attempt, which Dayton kicker Pat Sankovic missed, making his second failed field goal of the game, after Flyers cornerback Howard Savage intercepted the ball at the Duquesne 23.
The turning point of the game came after Dayton cornerback Howard Savage made a diving play to intercept senior quarterback Sean Patterson’s pass and give the Flyers the ball on the Duquesne 23 with 1:06 remaining in the third quarter.
Duquesne’s offense took full advantage, by driving deep into Dayton field position for the first time since early in the first quarter.
A sack pushed the Dukes back to the Dayton 15, but on third and 12, Patterson, who hit 69 percent of his targets for 187 yards, threw a laser between two defensive backs and into wide receiver Gianni Carter’s chest for the go-ahead touchdown that put Duquesne up 10-7.
“We were struggling to find a niche all game and I saw Sean made a good throw,” Carter said. “It feels great because we needed that spark and because it’s my first touchdown here.”
Coach Jerry Schmitt said it was crucial for his defense to hold Dayton to a field goal attempt after the interception.
“It really got the emotion going,” Schmitt said. “Our coaches were hollering on the sidelines. We were energized and that got the team playing with an energy we didn’t have for a while there.”
The Duquesne defense held strong again on the ensuing drive and allowed the offense to come back on the field to attempt to drain the clock. Senior running back Larry McCoy, who finished the game with 125 yards on 27 carries, pounded the ball repeatedly into Dayton’s defensive line and shrugged off multiple defenders throughout the drive. On his seventh carry of the drive, McCoy bounced right and ran through two Flyers for a seven-yard touchdown to give the Dukes a 17-7 lead with 3:03 left.
“We wanted to be patient and stick to the game plan,” McCoy said. “Eventually they were going to get worn down and that ended up happening late in the game.”
Dayton dominated the action for the first three quarters, but was unable to distance themselves due to missed field goals and timely defensive plays by Duquesne.
Down 3-0, Dayton quarterback Will Bardo led the Flyers on a nine-play, 74-yard drive to give them a 7-3 lead they would own for much of the game. By halftime, Bardo had 146 yards passing to go along with 36 yards rushing, but not much to show for it on the scoreboard.
Bardo was held to 86 yards passing in the second half.
Patterson said the offense feels pressure to put up points when the defense keeps Duquesne in games.
“We’re best friends with the guys on the defense, so no one wants to go out there and put points up to take advantage of what they’re doing out there more than us,” Patterson said. “When you don’t, you feel like you’re leaving them out to dry.”
After allowing 30 points in the fourth quarter of their game against Old Dominion last week, Schmitt said he was impressed with his defense’s performance against an explosive Dayton offense.
“These guys [Dayton] can score in 45 seconds, so I wasn’t comfortable up 10 with three minutes left, but our guys got it done,” Schmitt said. “One or two more scores there would have made it much more difficult for us, so there’s no doubt they did a great job.”
This was Duquesne’s third straight victory over Dayton.
The Dukes will look to carry their momentum as they go back on the road to face Valparaiso, a team they defeated 49-14 last season, at 2 p.m. Saturday.