Football defeats Central Connecticut in final home game

Brentaro Yamane | Staff Writer | Davie Henderson (left) and Tim Lowery (right) celebrate following Cyrus Holder’s game-winning touchdown. Lowery set up the score with a fumble recovery.

Brentaro Yamane | Staff Writer

Nov. 18, 2021

At the end of the third quarter of Saturday afternoon’s football game between Central Connecticut and Duquesne, light snow was falling from the sky as Mariah Carey’s hit single, “All I Want For Christmas Is You” began to play through the speakers at Rooney Field.

All the Dukes wanted was an early Christmas present, which would come in the form of a win against the Blue Devils in the team’s final home game of the year.

And that’s what they got.

With 0:29 left in the fourth quarter, quarterback Darius Perrantes scrambled left out of the pocket and threw a 30-yard pass to wide receiver Cyrus Holder in the left side of the end zone. Holder was covered, but he was able to fight off the coverage and get in front of the defender He came down with the catch, and the eventual game-winning score (plus the extra point) gave the Dukes a 31-27 lead.

“I saw it [the football] in the air,” Holder said. “I didn’t know I was in the endzone, but my only instinct was to come down with the ball no matter what, and that’s what happened.”

Blue Devils quarterback Shon Mitchell threw two touchdown passes on the day (both in the second quarter). The latter of his end zone connections, a 48-yard throw to Tyshaun James, gave Central Connecticut a commanding 17-3 lead.

The Dukes got a spark of their own when they faked a punt on fourth-and-3 from its own 27-yard line with 1:39 left before halftime. Dukes punter Michael Berarducci received the snap and ran down the sideline for 19 yards. The drive-saving play eventually led to a 10-yard touchdown grab from Davie Henderson with just 10 seconds to go in the quarter.

Central Connecticut held a seven-point lead heading into halftime, but the momentum began to shift.

That shift continued in the third quarter, when the Dukes tied the game via another 10-yard touchdown grab from Henderson with 8:10 left in the quarter.

Perrantes completed 24 of 48 passes for a season-high 329 yards in the win, while Henderson recorded six receptions for 63 yards.

The Blue Devils kicked a field goal late in the third quarter to reclaim the lead. However, the Dukes scored on the very next drive thanks to a two-yard rushing score from Billy Lucas, giving them a 24-20 advantage.

“We just had to keep executing, and we just had to find ourselves and not get down on ourselves,” Lucas said.

On the ensuing possession, Central Connecticut’s Kyren Petteway returned the kickoff 81 yards to the house, quickly giving a three-point lead back to the Blue Devils.

With 2:02 left in the fourth quarter, the Blue Devils needed to convert on third-and-6 to wrap up the game. After taking the snap, Mitchell rolled left, out of the pocket.

Before he was able to throw the football, Dukes defensive lineman Maxi Hradecny punched the ball out of Mitchell’s hands, allowing defensive back Tim Lowery to recover the fumble.

That play eventually led to Holder’s game-winning touchdown catch, but there was still some time for Central Connecticut to mount a drive of its own.

With 0:29 left in the game, the Blue Devils were at their own 34-yard line. Mitchell and his offense ran a play-action pass.

He heaved the ball down the field into double coverage. Duquesne’s Jeremiah Josephs could have intercepted the pass, but he tipped the ball and it landed in James’ hands, putting Central Connecticut on Duquesne’s 17-yard line.

After an incompletion, a four-yard run (and subsequent timeout) and another incompletion, the Blue Devils needed 13 yards to find the end zone and win the game.

On the final play of the game, Mitchell completed a six-yard pass to Petteway, which was enough for the first down.

But, with no timeouts left, the clock ran out and Duquesne held on to win.

“We always believe we have a chance to win no matter what it says on the scoreboard,” Holder said. Coach Schmitt tells us if we play 60 minutes, then it’ll end up in our favor, and we did it today.”

Duquesne will wrap up its season with a road contest at Wagner on Saturday. Due to a head-to-head tiebreaker that favors Sacred Heart, the Dukes can’t clinch an outright Northeast Conference title.

However, with a win against Wagner and an SHU loss to Long Island, Duquesne would clinch a share of the NEC title.