By Joseph Sykes | Sports Editor
The Duquesne football team opened up its 2015 campaign with a dominating 47-7 victory over Kentucky Christian University last Saturday afternoon at Rooney Field. The Dukes received help on all fronts en route to their win over KCU, however, much of their early-game success can be attributed to two senior players.
In his first drive as a Duke, senior wideout Dominique Terrell – a transfer from the University of Virginia – caught a pass from quarterback Dillon Buechel in the back left corner of the end zone to give the Dukes an early 7-0 lead. He even returned a punt for a touchdown; however, it was called back on a holding penalty. Despite this, Terrell made quite an impression on the fans, his teammates and most importantly, his coaches after showcasing his incredible speed and vision.
Dave Opfar, the team’s defensive coordinator, was proud of Terrell’s tremendous showing Saturday afternoon.
“He was an instant leader,” Opfar said. “He came in, and helped guys out. He just fit in like he’s been here for five years. It’s always good to bring in an older guy who has a great reputation coming from a great university.”
Terrell finished the game with three catches for 26 yards and one touchdown.
After the Dukes’ opening touchdown, the squad’s defensive unit was eager to get in the scoring action. After the Knights reached midfield, their quarterback, Graham Johnston, dropped back in the pocket before being sandwiched by senior nose tackle Dane O’Driscoll and junior cornerback Trenton Coles. This in turn made Johnston fumble the ball, which O’Driscoll corralled and ran half the length of the field to put the Dukes up 14-0.
O’Driscoll, who is in his third year as a starter, proved that when a player does his job correctly, he’ll always be rewarded.
“I tried to make a move and give a little pressure and I saw [Coles] come out of the side and take [Johnston] down,” O’Driscoll said. “As soon as he did, the ball came out and the quarterback’s helmet came off. I just grabbed the ball and basically thought whether I should jump on it or run with it, so I ran as hard as I could.”
After O’ Driscoll’s chaotic scoring play, the Dukes were bent on continuing their onslaught. To end the first quarter, sophomore tailback Rafiq Douglas powered through the KCU defensive line to give his team a 21-0 cushion. In the second, Douglas’ fellow running backs, Zach DeNardo and Klartel Claridy, also tallied rushing touchdowns. DeNardo found the end zone on a one-yard running play, while Claridy took the ball 43 yards to give the Dukes an insurmountable 37-0 lead.
Given their dominating first-half performance, many of Duquesne’s starters were taken out for the remainder of the match in order to give their backups some real-time reps. Buechel’s 159-yard, one-touchdown performance gave way for the No. 2 QB, junior Zach Egolf, to play for most of the second half. While Egolf only threw for only a total of 39 yards, he connected with junior wideout Reggie McKnight on a nice 20-yard passing play.
O’Driscoll, who is proud of his squad’s victory, still thinks his team has some areas to work on before their next game.
“We can always work on stuff; just working on calls and knowing what you’re doing,” he said. “We did a great job today, but you can never be too good at it.”
The Dukes will take on Bucknell next Saturday in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania at 6:00 p.m. This is the first of the team’s three-game road trip. They will return to Rooney Oct. 3 against Central Connecticut.