Dom Ferro | Staff Writer
Sept. 12, 2019
The Duquesne football team won their 12th straight home opener against the Walsh Cavaliers in a full showcase of the Dukes on Saturday evening. The Dukes won in convincing fashion, 44-3, to start the season undefeated at 1-0.
The last time Duquesne took the field was in the 2018-19 FCS Playoffs, where they capped off a historic season with their first FCS Playoff win against Towson. Unfortunately, their season ended the following week against South Dakota State, but it was a successful season for the program nevertheless.
Duquesne returns 10 starters and another nine who had started at least one game back on the roster this season. Veteran tight end Jake Dixon spoke about the changes that occurred over the offseason.
“Every year is different in its own way, and good in its own way. We lost two offensive linemen but everyone is communicating to make sure we’re on the same page.”
After last season, the Dukes had to search for four new starters on the offensive line. One of the new starters is right guard Ryan Johnson.
“Today was a new experience, not too bad for my first game starting as a redshirt freshman. We were opening holes for the running backs, they only need so much space and they’re gone,” Johnson said. The offensive line helped the Dukes gain a total of 214 rushing yards, compared to Walsh’s 18 rushing yards.
The Dukes certainly looked like they were on the same page after forcing a fumble on the first drive of the game. The fumble was recovered by the Cavaliers, but they were forced to punt after the loss of yards. Senior linebacker Brendan Thompson was credited with the forced fumble. After a failed Duquesne offensive drive, the defense was sent out once again. After only two offensive plays by the Cavaliers, they fumbled a second time. This time the Dukes recovered and with great field position. Brendan Thompson forced his second fumble of the game and was also able to recover it. Thompson led the Dukes with seven tackles on the day.
Duquesne capitalized on their field position after the turnover. After a 15-yard penalty against Walsh, the Dukes were knocking on the door of the endzone. All-American running back A.J. Hines scored on his second rushing attempt of the drive. The 5’11, 225-lb running back ran over any defensive linemen in his path and scored a six-yard touchdown to give Duquesne the early lead.
Hines is one of the Dukes’ superstars, especially after his huge 2018 season where he finished with the eighth most rushing yards in all of the FCS and FBS. He ran for more than 1,500 yards in 2018 and outran several players drafted into the NFL. Hines starts the season ranked second in Duquesne history in rushing touchdowns and leads all active FCS players with 3,849 career rushing yards and 38 career rushing touchdowns.
Duquesne continued to beat up on Walsh in the first half when defensive back Spencer DeMedal got the first interception of the year for his team. The Dukes’ defense was stagnant, allowing only 54 yards in the first half.
A.J. Hines continued his domination over the Cavalier defense, when on the second play of the second quarter he busted off a 57-yard run. No one could catch him as he trotted into the end zone to give Duquesne a two-possession lead.
Daniel Parr, the veteran quarterback for the Dukes, got his first passing touchdown of the season early in the second quarter when he completed a 26-yard pass to Dominic Thieman. The score was 20-0 after Mitch MacZura nailed his second PAT on the day, and the Cavaliers seemed to have lost their motivation they came with.
The second half didn’t show any signs of the Dukes slowing down. Sophomore wide receiver Davie Henderson opened the half with a tipped catch intended for another receiver that he turned into a 62-yard touchdown. It was Henderson’s first collegiate touchdown of his young career and it was a highlight reel worthy play.
“I’ve been working two years for this, it felt great,” Henderson said. “I just reached out, grabbed it and kept running.”
Duquesne continued to put points on the board and the defense only allowed one field goal. The final score of the game was 44-3. Several backup players got field time and were able to score in the clinic that the Dukes put on at Rooney Field against the Cavaliers.
Parr finished with 173 passing yards and two touchdown passes. Quinn Thomas led receivers with 72 receiving yards. Hines added two touchdowns to add onto his team-high for most touchdowns for an active player. The trips to the endzone brought his career mark to 40 touchdowns. Hines finished with 102 rushing yards. Backup running back Mark Allen also ran for 51 yards and had a kickoff returned for a touchdown that was unfortunately called back by a personal foul.
“We definitely have a lot more weapons and depth. We have five different running backs that can play, 10 different receivers that can play. It’s hard to get on the field, but when you do, everyone is so supportive of you,” said Trey King, one of the many Duquesne wide receivers who saw playing time on Saturday.
The talent level is the same way on the defense.
“The sky is the limit for talent. You can look down the line of [the roster], you can see just the talent level,” said Kam Carter, a second-year starter. Carter has all the confidence going into the second game of the season.“Every opponent that we face, as long as we go out there and execute and do what we’re supposed to do, I feel like we can play against Alabama and beat them.”
After this massive 41-point victory, Duquesne carries momentum into next week’s game against Youngstown State. The Penguins have started the 2019 season with a 2-0 record. The two programs last met in 2016, with the Penguins pulling out a 42-10 victory at Stambaugh Stadium in Youngstown.