Adam Lindner | Sports Editor
Nov. 29, 2018
Duquesne’s football team did something on Saturday, Nov. 24 that it had never done before — win an NCAA FCS playoff game.
It did it in dominant fashion, too, topping No. 16 Towson, 31-10, thanks in large part to some 31 unanswered points, 28 of them coming in the second half. Duquesne’s offense sputtered early, but a consistent defensive effort kept the Dukes in the game.
Sloppy weather aided in defining the game’s character, giving rise to a tough day throwing the ball for Towson quarterback Tom Flacco, plus a memorable performance on the ground for Dukes tailback A.J. Hines. Flacco and the Tigers were limited to only 127 yards through the air, while Hines bulldozed his way to 175 yards rushing to go along with one touchdown.
Hines reeled in 71 receiving yards on the day, as well, all of which came via his 71-yard touchdown catch in the third quarter. The score, which gave the Dukes a 17-10 lead at the time, ended up being the game’s deciding score.
Head Coach Jerry Schmitt, in his 14th season at Duquesne, said he was thrilled to be able to finally make this breakthrough with his program.
“First of all, I’m really happy for these kids — everything they’ve been through, and the staff, to be the team that won their first playoff game,” Schmitt said. “I think it’s huge for the program.
“It’s for everybody. It takes administration, support staff, strength & conditioning, coaches, players. It’s big for alums because those guys have all been through the process of building this program continuously.”
Schmitt continued, saying he’s even more proud of this specific group because of the adversity that they’ve endured.
“It’s rewarding for them for the work they’ve put in — to get together as a group and to fight through adversity.”
Indeed, the win is monumental for Duquesne, a school that had only ever been to the FCS playoffs once before, in 2015. No. 16 Towson, one of six teams from the Colonial Athletic Association to qualify for the playoffs in 2018, was heavily favored against the NEC’s Dukes.
Duquesne will be even heavier underdogs this Saturday, Dec. 1, when it will take on No. 5 South Dakota State. The Jackrabbits have averaged 50.75 points per game over their past four contests, outscoring opponents 203-100 in that span.
Schmitt said he’s glad that Duquesne has faced the Jackrabbits recently, compliments of an Aug. 31, 2017 game in Brookings. The Dukes fell, 51-13, to begin their season.
“It’s good we’ll be familiar with the surroundings. And, an understanding of what their program is like because they’re a top-five program in the country on a year-to-year basis.
“We’ve played against them. We know the level we have to play to compete with them.”