Duquesne football downed by TCU in season opener

Courtesy of Melissa Triebwasser | Members of the Duquesne offensive line try to push running back Billy Lucas forward for extra yardage. Lucas — last season’s NEC Offensive Rookie of the Year — rushed for 23 yards in the loss.

Luke Henne | Sports Editor

Sept. 9, 2021

A common cliché in sports is that it’s hard for a team to win when they can’t score. It becomes even harder when the team struggles to keep its opponent off the scoreboard.

After allowing three first-quarter touchdowns, the Duquesne football team couldn’t catch up to TCU, ultimately falling to the Horned Frogs, 45-3, this past Saturday night at Amon G. Carter Stadium.

Perhaps an even bigger loss for the Dukes came on the depth chart, as starting quarterback Joe Mischler left the game near the end of the first quarter after suffering a knee injury.

“I don’t have anything official, but it is a knee,” Duquesne Head Coach Jerry Schmitt said during his postgame media session. “It was a rollout and I thought he got it clean. I couldn’t see from my side what happened after he released the ball.”

While injuries are unavoidable in any contest, it was something TCU Head Coach Gary Patterson had hoped to steer clear of as much as possible in the season-opening affair.

The coach [Schmitt] and I, earlier in the week on the phone, spoke about how during this game we want to make sure everyone stayed healthy,” Patterson told reporters postgame. “So, I feel really bad about that and for him [Mischler].”

Mischler was relieved by Darius Perrantes, a Rhode Island transfer. Combined, the two quarterbacks struggled, completing just three of 12 passes for 76 yards and an interception.

Overall, the Horned Frogs outgained the Dukes by nearly 300 yards (431 to 137) on offense. TCU also notched 26 first downs, while Duquesne was able to move the chains just six times.

TCU took a 35-0 lead into the locker room at halftime. At that point, both head coaches agreed to play 12-minute quarters during the second half in order to help avoid any further injuries.

“They asked to go down to 12 minutes and I agreed,” Patterson said. “They had about five or six guys that had gone out, so I think the heat had taken a toll on them. It was a good thing.”

The kickoff temperature of 94 degrees was certainly unusual for Duquesne. So was playing under the bright lights of a Big 12 Conference stadium filled with 35,000-plus spectators.

Nevertheless, Schmitt was grateful for the opportunity his team got.

“It’s a great experience. It’s a great place,” Schmitt said. “We stretched ourselves obviously. Our kids got to see that challenge.”

Duquesne’s only points came about five minutes into the third quarter, when Brian Bruzdewicz capped off an eight-play, 57-yard drive with a 26-yard field goal.

Cyrus Holder caught two passes for 64 yards, while Davie Henderson caught the Dukes’ other completion for 12 yards. On the ground, the running back tandem of Garrett Owens and Billy Lucas combined for 58 yards.

On the defensive side of the ball, Leandro DeBrito posted eight tackles and an interception. The interception – which came in the second quarter – was the third of DeBrito’s career.

Spencer DeMedal also recorded 11 tackles, matching a career-high that was previously set in a 48-24 victory over Robert Morris on Oct. 13, 2018.

The game marked the Dukes’ third all-time trip to the state of Texas and their first since 1937. It was also Duquesne’s first game against a current member of the Big 12 since 1942.

“We’ve played some FBS in the past and we have some down the road here. It’s a great experience.” Schmitt said.

The Dukes will get another crack at an FBS opponent right away, as they’re set to clash with Ohio at Peden Stadium this coming Saturday, Sept. 11.

In the event that Mischler is able to get back to full strength, he’d get a chance to face the school where his collegiate career started in 2019.