Dukes beat Edinboro 42-7 in season opener

Dylan Fister | Staff Photographer | Duquesne quarterback Darius Perrantes daps up his teamates in the endzone during Duquesne’s season-opening 42-7 victory over Edinboro.

Matthew Theodros | Staff Writer

The Duquesne football team opened up its 2023 season in overwhelming fashion, using four first quarter turnovers to beat Edinboro 49-7 on Saturday afternoon at Rooney Field.

Students, families and alumni came together during the game to celebrate the 1973, 2003, 2013, and 2018 championship rosters during halftime. That lively atmosphere translated onto the field.

Newly appointed team Captain Ayden Garnes opened the scoring with an electric pick-six on Edinboro’s second possession of the game. That set the tone for the remainder of the contest as the Dukes revved up their intensity from that point forward.

Head Coach Jerry Schmitt spoke about Garnes’s interception as well as his leadership and the honor he has in the locker room.

“It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy,” Schmitt said. “He is a hard worker, a captain, [Garnes] is phenomenal and everyone was so ecstatic that he got that opportunity.”

Near the halfway point of the first, quarterback Darius Perrantes found receiver Keshawn Brown for a beautiful gain of 38 yards. Perrantes used his feet to escape the defense at the goal line for a 4-yard rushing touchdown to give the Dukes a 14-0 lead at the 7:43 mark.

Back-to-back fumbles by Edinboro quarterback Matt Carlisle made it impossible for the Fighting Scots to get any consistent offensive production.

The Dukes’ defense was able to neutralize Carlisle, forcing him into ill-advised passes and a lack of yardage. Carlisle started the game 2 of 8 passing, and finished with only 76 yards.

Edinboro’s next offensive possession resulted in a high-rising interception by DU’s Tim Lowery. Coming off a season-ending injury in 2022, Lowery’s ability to make game-changing plays shows a different Duquesne football team.

“Everybody is healthy, which is really critical for us,” Schmitt said. “Through the back half of the season, a lot of the guys you see now were not with us. You can see that they are talented guys, and they are playing fast and together.”

A missed 25-yard Brian Bruzdewicz field goal proved to be inconsequential as Duquesne bounced back with defensive stops.

Duquesne took a 21-0 lead after a remarkable touchdown by Perrantes. Pressured by the Fighting Scot defense, Perrantes used his elusive footwork and poise in the pocket to evade multiple tackles to find Brown in the endzone.

Later in the contest, Perrantes was able to find receiver D.J. Powell for multiple large gains including an end zone touchdown grab to take a 28-0 lead.

“I loved that he took control and showed more and more leadership,” Schmitt said about Perrantes’ growth.

Meanwhile, Powell made an immediate impact in his debut game at Duquesne posting 57 yards and two touchdowns.

“As a transfer, it was nice playing my first game as a Duke,” Powell said. “I was happy that we got the win, happy that I got to showcase myself being new to the team and to the new fans.”

After Edinboro failed to convert a fake punt, Duquesne capitalized on a 23-yard drive with a JaMario Clements rushing touchdown. Going into the half, the Dukes held a commanding 35-0 lead, giving Schmitt the opportunity to give his reserves some experience.

Matt Robinson and Jordan Heisy took snaps at QB during the second half, and all three quarterbacks finished the day with a score. Robinson found Powell in the endzone for his first career touchdown pass, and Heisy scrambled for a touchdown with just under 12 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter.

Meanwhile in the backfield, Taj Butts finished averaging 11.7 yards per carry with 104 yards.

The third quarter came to an end with Edinboro’s only offensive score as Carlisle found receiver Aaron Hopkins in the endzone.

The offensive disparity was staggering as Duquesne’s passing and run game trampled Edinboro’s. DU led Edinboro 390-170 in total yards and most impressively held them to a dismal 1 of 13 on third down conversions.

Duquesne recorded six total sacks ,and 33 players recorded a tackle. Garnes spoke about the defensive master class and the message it sent to the team and competition.

“Setting that tone woke everyone up,” Garnes said. ”On our team and their team, and the league, letting everybody know we are coming this year.”

Duquesne will be on the road for the next four games, including two FBS matchups. The Dukes will take on West Virginia next Saturday at 6 p.m. at Milan Puskar Stadium.