Football defeats LIU, snaps brief skid

Courtesy of Duquesne Athletics | Duquesne’s Billy Lucas ran for a career-best 137 yards and a touchdown in the Dukes’ 34-28 victory over Long Island on Saturday. In Duquesne’s last two games, Lucas has rushed for a total of 236 yards.

Brentaro Yamane | Staff Writer

Nov. 11, 2021

The Duquesne football team broke a two-game losing streak on Saturday, besting Northeast Conference foe Long Island, 34-28, at Bethpage Federal Credit Union Stadium in Brookeville, N.Y.

The Dukes’ first quarter was less than ideal. On the game’s first drive, LIU marched 75 yards down the field on six plays. With just 2:30 of game clock elapsed, the Sharks held a 7-0 lead following a 28-yard rushing score from Jonathan DeBique. After the Dukes cut into the LIU lead with a 45-yard field goal from Andrew Smith on the following drive, the Sharks immediately answered.

A drive which LIU started at its own 20-yard line ended with another touchdown, as quarterback Camden Orth threw a 25-yard touchdown strike to Derick Eugene to give the Sharks an 11-point lead. Orth finished the day completing 21 of 36 passes for 348 yards and two touchdowns.

For a fourth consecutive drive to start the game, points were put on the board.

Duquesne quarterback Darius Perrantes threw the first of his three touchdown passes of the day to wide receiver Cyrus Holder to trim the deficit to 14-10. Perrantes, who returned to the lineup following an injury which forced him to miss the previous week’s loss against Saint Francis (Pa.), completed 19 of 32 passes for 215 yards.

From that point, things continued to look up for the Dukes.

On LIU’s second play of the ensuing drive, Orth threw an interception that landed in the hands of Dukes defensive back Tim Lowery.

Lowery knew that even though his team was still trailing, they had to find a way to secure a win.

“We knew that it wasn’t going to be easy after trailing at the end of the first quarter,” Lowery said. “We just had to come together and take it one play at a time. We believed in one another, so as long as everyone did their job, good things will happen in the end and that’s what happened.”

Perrantes continued to throw the ball effectively, as the next two scores of the game were passing touchdowns. He was able to connect with Davie Henderson from 42 yards out before halftime to give the Dukes a 17-14 lead going into the locker room.

On the Dukes’ second drive of the third quarter, Holder caught another touchdown pass, this time from 28 yards out to help Duquesne extend its lead to 24-14.

However, the Sharks kept fighting. They responded on the next drive with another rushing touchdown from DeBique. He ran the ball 16 times for 103 yards in the game.

Despite DeBique’s solid performance, it could be argued that Duquesne running back Billy Lucas had an even stronger game.

On the drive following DeBique’s second score of the game, Perrantes was facing a third down from his own 33-yard line. He handed the ball to Lucas, who was about to run into traffic up the middle, but decided to cut back to the left. That decision resulted in a 67-yard rushing touchdown.

Lucas ended the day with a career-high 137 rushing yards on 20 carries, ultimately averaging 6.9 yards per carry. Those stats helped him to be recognized as the NEC Player of the Week.

“It felt great to win and get things back rolling,” Lucas said. “The team was happy, and it is motivating us for next week. It feels good to see all the practice reps paying off and being able to help the team win games.”

The Sharks continued to try and come back, and they got close. After a 24-yard field goal from Joey Corado helped Duquesne push its lead to 34-21, Orth threw a 58-yard touchdown pass to Tosin Oyekanmi with 4:39 remaining in the game.

With the ball in their possession on what would turn out to be the final drive of the game, the Sharks converted twice on third down and moved the ball all the way to Duquesne’s 30-yard line. However, time expired following an Orth incompletion on second down, and the Dukes escaped with a one-score victory.

Duquesne linebacker Jahan Worth, who recorded eight tackles, was proud of his team’s resiliency and composure in the victory.

“The game plan was to play our game of football, eliminate easy penalties and put pressure on them on both sides of the ball,” Worth said. “We just emphasized to each other the importance of staying focused on every play. We wanted to win the game a play at a time, and trust that our teammates would have each other’s backs, and that’s what happened.”

Duquesne’s next game will be its final home game of the regular season, when it hosts Central Connecticut on Saturday.

The Dukes and Blue Devils are both 3-2 in NEC play.

Those two teams, in addition to SFU and Bryant, are locked in a four-way tie for second place. Sacred Heart currently leads the NEC at 4-1.

For Duquesne to have a shot at winning the conference title, it would need to win its final two games, in addition to Sacred Heart losing both of its final two games and SFU dropping at least one more game.

For Duquesne offensive lineman Roman Macek, he prefers focusing on Saturday’s game rather than trying to look ahead.

“The only thing on our minds is to get better each day and go 1-0 this weekend against Central Connecticut,” Macek said. “Both times I’ve played against Central Connecticut in my career, it has been for the conference championship, and it has come down to one of the last plays of the game to decide the winner.

“They’re really a good team, but if we all collectively do our jobs, we have a great chance at coming out on top.”