Football snaps skid, beats Central Connecticut

Peter Boettger | Staff Photographer | Abdul Janneh — pictured on Oct. 8 — had five catches for 72 yards and a score on Saturday.

Russell Macias | Staff Writer

Oct. 27, 2022

The Duquesne football team took down Central Connecticut 30-6 on Saturday afternoon, snapping a three-game skid and earning their first Northeast Conference win of the season.

Both teams traded punts in their opening drives, but the Dukes’ next possession spanned 20 plays and took up nearly 10 minutes of game action. However, all Duquesne came away with was a 23-yard field goal from Brian Bruzdewicz.

After one more drive with starting QB Joe Mischler under center, Darius Perrantes then took over at quarterback for the Dukes in the second quarter.

One issue that has plagued Duquesne recently is the lack of success on third down. In the Dukes’ last three games, they are just 14-for-41. When asked about this at practice on Tuesday afternoon, Head Coach Jerry Schmitt said that while he does see the struggle, he thinks a lot of the issues on the pivotal down are rooted in sloppy plays on first and second down. As a result, third downs become that much harder to convert.

On his first drive of the day, Perrantes connected with wide receiver Abdul Janneh for third-down conversions of 26 and 27 yards, respectively. However, the offense stalled again, and a 40-yard field goal from Bruzdewicz pushed Duquesne’s lead to 6-0 nearly halfway through the quarter.

After Duquesne’s defense got the Blue Devils’ offense off the field quickly, Perrantes had another chance to make big plays, and he did.

Starting from his own 9-yard line, Perrantes connected with wide receivers Dwayne Menders Jr. (45 yards) and Joey Isabella (37 yards) on consecutive plays, putting the Dukes in the red zone. After a brief two-yard run from DeMarcus Ware, Perrantes hit Janneh for a 7-yard touchdown reception, good for his team-leading seventh score of the season.

When Janneh was asked about his success, he referred to his teammates and wide receiver depth on the team.

“[The depth]’s huge, I wouldn’t get a TD without them,” Janneh said. “With Joey coming back from injury, it was big to see [him make that catch], and Darius made the big throws. We focused all week on execution, especially in the red zone, so it was good to get that going early.”

The Dukes took a 13-0 lead into halftime, but Central Connecticut threatened that lead midway through the third quarter with a 19-yard rushing touchdown from Nasir Smith. However, the Blue Devils missed the extra point, and the score sat at 13-6.

Entering the fourth quarter, the Blue Devils held possession within the Dukes’ 10-yard line and looked prime to tie the game with a touchdown and accompanying extra point.

However, led by captain Jeremiah Josephs, the Duquesne defense held their own. After plays that resulted in no gain or negative yardage on second and third down, Josephs intercepted a fourth-down pass from Central Connecticut’s Shon Mitchell in the end zone, preserving Duquesne’s lead.

On the ensuing drive, Perrantes, who had remained in at quarterback since coming in during the second quarter, led a long drive that got Duquesne as far as Central Connecticut’s goal line. However, the Dukes were stuffed again, and a 20-yard field goal from Bruzdewicz allowed Duquesne to walk away with a 16-6 edge.

That drive featured running back JaMario Clements, who was unable to score in consecutive plays from the Blue Devils’ goal line. However, Schmitt believes that Clements’ emergence will be pivotal for the Dukes moving forward, especially as the wear and tear of the season begins to take a toll on frequently used backs like Ware and Billy Lucas.

“He’s been huge for us,” Schmitt said. “He’s a hard worker, and we really needed a guy to step up.”

After Duquesne’s defense forced a stop and regained possession with just over eight minutes left in the contest, a series of runs from Ware and Clements helped get the Dukes back into Central Connecticut’s red zone. Faced with a 4th-and-11 from the Blue Devils’ 24-yard line, Schmitt dialed up a passing play, and Perrantes found wide receiver Jalin Cooper for a 24-yard touchdown. With just 1:28 to go in the game, Duquesne’s lead sat at a comfortable 17 points.

With the game all but secured, Mitchell had a pass intercepted by Duquesne’s Ezekiel Daure 30 yards for a touchdown, ballooning the Dukes’ lead to 30-6.

The day after Duquesne’s 24-point victory, Perrantes was named the Northeast Conference Offensive Player of the Week. He threw for 260 yards and two touchdowns in the victory.

“Perfect timing. We played a great opponent. We all worked hard all week, watched a lot of film and prepared a lot,” Perrantes said. “Obviously, when the time is right, and we work hard, we get it done. [His wide receivers and running backs] make my job so much easier. Such an all-around great effort from everyone.”

The Dukes will return to action on Saturday, when they host Long Island at Rooney Field.