Football falls to 1-5 after home loss to Merrimack

Peter Boettger | Staff Photographer | Multiple Duquesne players attempt to tackle a Merrimack ball carrier during Saturday’s contest at Rooney Field. Merrimack won the game 28-21, handing Duquesne its fifth loss in six games.

Russell Macias | Staff Writer

Oct. 13, 2022

The Duquesne football team hit another speed bump on Saturday afternoon, as they fell 28-21 to Merrimack at Rooney Field.

Joe Mischler started the game at quarterback for Duquesne.

His offense started out as well as it could’ve hoped for, as the first drive of the game went 12 plays and spanned 70 yards, culminating with a 1-yard touchdown run from Billy Lucas.

On the ensuing Warriors’ drive, Merrimack converted six third downs on their way to a 3-yard touchdown run from Donovan Wadley. The drive spanned 75 yards in 18 plays, and took nearly 10 minutes off the game clock.

After a quick Duquesne drive of less than three minutes, Merrimack regained possession. On a 3rd-and-6, Dukes captain Jeremiah Josephs secured a momentum-swinging interception at his own 32-yard line.

A pair of Lucas runs got the Dukes near midfield, and Mischler then unfurled a 56-yard deep ball into the arms of Dwayne Menders, who shrugged off a tackler and waltzed into the end zone, giving Duquesne its second lead of the day at 14-7.

Merrimack took over with just over eight minutes to go in the second quarter. After taking nearly six minutes of game time off the clock, the Warriors’ Victor Dawson ran it in from nine yards out to even the score.

After another sustained drive by Merrimack kept Duquesne’s offense on the bench, the Dukes returned to the field and went three-and-out.

However, on the punt, punter Michael Beraducci got roughed, and the Dukes were handed a 1st-and-10. They failed to muster anything, and the teams went to the locker room tied at 14.

Out of the half, things looked promising for the Dukes. For only the second time in 11 tries, the Dukes stopped the Warriors on third down and got a quick punt out of Merrimack, giving the offense a chance to set the pace and reclaim the lead early in the second half.

After another quick three-and-out from the Duquesne offense, Merrimack took over at its own 41-yard line. The Warriors needed less than three minutes to drive almost 60 yards, taking a 21-14 lead thanks to a 20-yard touchdown pass from Gavin McCusker to Hayden Fisher.

On a 3rd-and-13 during Duquesne’s ensuing drive, Mischler was sacked and fumbled the football, allowing Merrimack’s Chiebuka Aduaka to recover and gain possession on the Dukes’ 18-yard line.

The very next play saw Dawson run the ball in for his second score of the day as Merrimack doubled its lead.

From there on out, Mischler’s day was finished. Darius Perrantes came off the bench to lead the Dukes on their next drive. After four runs totaling 27 yards from redshirt freshman JaMario Clements pushed the Dukes from their own 25-yard line into Merrimack territory, Perrantes found Abdul Janneh on a 48-yard touchdown connection. Janneh’s one-handed catch brought the Dukes back to within one possession with 51 seconds to go in the third quarter.

Despite switching things up under center, Janneh felt the offense was able to gel with both quarterbacks.

“Whoever’s in, we try to make something happen,” Janneh said to Pittsburgh Sports Now after the game. “Both [Mischler and Perrantes] throw differently, but they’re our guys, and we make something happen.”

Despite a fourth-quarter drive from Merrimack that took nearly seven minutes and forced Duquesne to use all three of its timeouts, the Warriors punted it back to Duquesne.

With less than three minutes to go, the Dukes had one final chance to even the game at 28.

A 13-yard connection between Perrantes and Janneh got the Dukes to their own 41-yard line, but four-straight incompletions and a turnover on downs ended Duquesne’s chances of tying the game.

“With me, I always got to stay ready, and I try to stay ready for my team,” Perrantes said to Pittsburgh Sports Now. “The team did a great job and helped me out a lot, and I couldn’t be more happy with their effort. It’s a loss, it sucks, but we got to take it one day at a time.”

After a bye week this week, a 1-5 Duquesne squad will travel to take on 0-6 Central Connecticut on Oct. 22.

“Every team is good in this conference,” Perrantes said to Pittsburgh Sports Now. “We have to play our best football every day.”