Eighth-Ranked Blue Hens batter Dukes

Courtesy of Duquesne Athletics | Duquesne’s captains walk to midfield prior to their matchup in Delaware on Saturday. The game took place in a sold-out stadium of Blue Hen fans, who saw their team move up in the FCS rankings.

Spencer Thomas | Sports Editor

They may be flightless birds, but the Delaware Blue Hens took to the air and used a lethal passing attack to beat Duquesne on Saturday, 43-17.

Delaware quarterback Drew O’Connor nearly tripled Duquesne’s passing output, with 347 yards on 28-40 passing, while Duquesne’s Darius Perrantes finished just 9-17 for 128 yards.

That trend was not the case early on, when Perrantes found Darryl Powell Jr. for a 52-yard touchdown less than three minutes into the game.

“We took advantage of some of the things we thought they might be giving us,” Schmitt said. “Darius can make some plays, and do it with his feet and hit arm”

However, Delaware bounced back quickly with two touchdowns before the end of the quarter and took a 15-7 lead. A 63-yard drive that ended with a field goal from Brian Bruzdewicz, got Duquesne back in the game. However, Delaware looked capable of extending their lead when they moved the ball within a yard of Duquesne’s end zone. However, a lofting pass to the corner fell short of its target and was intercepted by Ayden Garnes.

Duquesne threw one final counterpunch on their ensuing drive a draw play to Edward Robinson saw Duquesne’s running back explode up the middle, using his speed for a 67-yard touchdown. Duquesne’s two-point lead would be the last they’d hold for the remainder of the game.

Delaware recaptured the lead with 43 seconds to go in the second quarter with a short run,

And extended it on a long touchdown pass in the third.

A pair of touchdowns later in the half sealed Duquesne’s fate in the 43-17 loss. Duquesne was shut out in the second half. Their five drives ended with a pair of interceptions and three punts.

Despite the loss, Schmitt found some positives from his team’s performance, especially against venerable opposition. The Blue Hens’ only loss this season has come at Penn State, and the win moved them up two spots to eighth in the FCS Coaches Poll.

“I want to get a chance to take a look at the tape because I think our kids really played well for spurts of the game,” Schmitt said. “There are periods where we made some mistakes that allowed them to capitalize or didn’t allow us to score. I’m really happy with the way we played. We’re going to keep improving on that.”

The Dukes will finally return home for the first time in six weeks on Saturday when they host Central Connecticut State in a Northeast Conference showdown. Kickoff is scheduled for noon.

“You know what we’re most looking forward to?” Schmitt asked. “Coming home to Rooney. We love playing there and looking forward to seeing all of our fans.”