Football drops road clash with Hawaii

Peter Boettger | Staff Photographer | Running back Billy Lucas — pictured here in Duquesne’s Sept. 10 win over Thomas More — rushed for 70 yards on 18 carries in the Dukes’ 24-14 loss at Hawaii on Saturday night.

Russell Macias | Staff Writer

Sept. 22, 2022

The Duquesne football team completed their out-of-conference schedule with a road loss in Honolulu against Hawaii 24-14 on Saturday night.

Leading up to Saturday’s game, the Dukes flew into Honolulu on Tuesday, and used the acclimation period to both practice and experience the island.

Head Coach Jerry Schmitt described the week of practice at the historic Saint Louis School, which produced NFL quarterbacks like Marcus Mariota and Tua Tagovailoa, as well as the team’s recreational time.

“We also went to Pearl Harbor, so there’s been educational time,” Schmitt said. “It’s great for young men, many won’t get here again. We balanced it real well.”

The Dukes were set to face an FBS opponent for the fourth time since the start of 2021.

On Duquesne’s first drive of the game, the Dukes went 56 yards on a drive that spanned 14 plays. Duquesne got it to the goal line, but failed to convert. The Dukes settled for a field goal, taking an early 3-0 lead.

On the ensuing kickoff, the Rainbow Warriors got a massive return of 58 yards, setting them up on Duquesne’s side of the field. It took just six plays and one third-down conversion for Hawaii to score the game’s first touchdown.

The Rainbow Warriors extended their lead in the second quarter, with a key play coming from a Duquesne punt. Hawaii had a jump on the play and blocked the kick, gaining possession inside the Dukes’ 15-yard line.

Hawaii running back Dedrick Parson would outrun Dukes defenders to the sideline, scoring to give his team a 14-3 lead.

The heroics on special teams weren’t just reserved for Hawaii, as the Dukes would later block a 35-yard field goal attempt.

In the ensuing drive, Schmitt opted to remove starting quarterback Joe Mischler from the game in favor of 2021 starter Darius Perrantes.

Perrantes led the Dukes up the field with a good pace, both throwing and using his mobility to gain chunks of yards. Kicker Brian Bruzdewicz nailed a 30-yarder as the game went to half, with the Dukes trailing 14-6.

When asked at halftime why Mischler was pulled and Perrantes was inserted, Schmitt told a sideline reporter covering the game for Hawaii that he “just wanted a different look” at quarterback.

Mischler returned to the field after halftime to lead the offense inside the Hawaii 20-yard line. Dwayne Menders Jr. caught a ball short of the sticks on 3rd-and-7, and cut back to set up a 1st-and-goal for Duquesne midway through the 3rd quarter, trailing by just a possession.
But on 2nd-and-goal from the 3-yard-line, Mischler misplaced a pass, and it was intercepted by the Rainbow Warriors.

Despite having a massive edge in time of possession in the third quarter (12:11 to 2:49), Duquesne had no points to show for it.

Then, disaster struck. An already struggling Mischler looked to get a pass to Billy Lucas, but Mischler’s throw was off line and went well behind Lucas. It was intercepted, and Hawaii took it all the way back for a touchdown, moving the score to 21-6. It was Mischler’s sixth interception in the last three games.

The Dukes’ defense could only do so much. A visibly frustrated Schmitt threw his arms up in the air as a face mask penalty was called on Lucas D’Orazio. Hawaii wound up settling for a 29-yard field goal, pushing its lead to 24-6 with just under seven minutes left in the game.

With not much time to mount a comeback, Duquesne marched down the field behind the arm of Perrantes, with the highlight of the drive being a 29-yard completion in the end zone to Menders, who had to lay out to haul it in. A two-point conversion on a pass to Rahmon Hart Jr., moved the score to 24-14.

Another lifeline Duquesne received was recovering an onside kick with just over two minutes to play. Lucas then caught a ball about 10 yards out, and ran it all the way to the Hawaii 16-yard line. Two plays later, Perrantes threw an interception, effectively sealing the game.

For Duquesne, it’s a loss in which the team out-possessed Hawaii by nearly an entire quarter’s worth of minutes (37:02 to 22:58), but succumbed to their own offensive miscues.

The Dukes’ defense played well and allowed only three points when Hawaii started drives on their own side of the field. But that didn’t reflect in the result.

Self-inflicted wounds hurt the Dukes immensely, and now questions will be raised about the starting quarterback position going forward, as Schmitt has shown that he is willing to give playing time to either quarterback.

After traveling over 5,500 miles for three non-conference games, Duquesne will get some much needed rest with a bye this week.

“Rest is going to be huge,” Schmitt said. “Heal up, get back to a routine. I think these road games will help us significantly down the line.”

Despite a 1-3 record, Duquesne is still considered to be a favorite in the Northeast Conference. The Dukes were picked to finish second in the NEC behind Sacred Heart, who is already 1-0 in conference play.

The Dukes will return to action on Oct. 1, when they head to North Easton, Mass., for a meeting with Stonehill — the NEC’s newest member.

Duquesne’s next home contest will come on Oct. 8, when the Dukes battle Merrimack at Rooney Field.