By David Borne | Staff Writer
Trailing 24-7 with 6:57 remaining in the first half, it appeared that Duquesne was about to suffer their second consecutive loss in NEC Conference play to the Bryant Bulldogs. The loss would have likely crushed their NEC title hopes. However, the Dukes were able to outscore Bryant 21-7 in the second half and pull out a 35-31 victory.
The win came in the ninth ever meeting between the two teams, and it brought Duquesne’s three game losing streak against Bryant to an end. Additionally, it set the stage for receiver Blair Roberts to showcase his talents on Rooney Field.
The Red & Blue saw a breakout performance from the graduate transfer who played undergraduate football for the Old Dominion Monarchs.
However, Roberts was not the only receiver who had a career day on Saturday afternoon.
Bryant receiver Keenan Thompson also had a stat-stuffing night for the Bulldogs. He opened the game’s scoring with a 32 yard reception from quarterback Dalton Easton, but Roberts immediately made his mark and evened the score four minutes later. This was just the start of a back-and-forth affair between the two all night long.
The two stole the show on Saturday, as both managed to find the endzone four times and they totaled a combined 242 yards receiving in the contest.
However it was Roberts for Duquesne who was able to come out on top of the receiver dual and in turn help his team come away with the win. Roberts sealed the deal for the Dukes with 9:15 remaining in the 4th quarter, when he caught a 13-yard pass from redshirt senior quarterback Dillon Buechel and scored his fourth and final touchdown of the afternoon.
Roberts ended the day with a season high 8 receptions for 153 yards. Roberts’s performance on Saturday tied the school record for most touchdowns in a single game. He now shares the record with teammate Wayne Capers Jr., who recorded four touchdowns in a game against Jacksonville earlier this season.
Blair Roberts has usually been more of a secondary target for Buechel behind Wayne Capers Jr., but he sure stepped up when the Dukes needed him to on Saturday. Bryant was able to limit Capers to only one reception in the contest, and Buechel needed someone to fill the role of the number one receiver, which is exactly what Roberts did. Roberts and Capers both share the team lead with six touchdown receptions on the season and have done a nice job of giving Buechel weapons to replace Chris King, who had been Buechel’s favorite target over the past few seasons before graduating last Spring.
In his four seasons at Old Dominion, Roberts appeared in 25 games and had 13 touchdowns during that time. He only appeared in one game in his final season at Old Dominion but missed the remainder of the season due to injury. The transition to Duquesne and a new offense hasn’t seemed to impact Roberts this season, as he is one of the team’s two leaders in nearly every receiving category.
If Roberts and Capers can continue to step up, Duquesne’s passing attack will become very dangerous on the shoulders of their leader Buechel.
The Dukes head to Long Island to take on Wagner this upcoming Saturday. Wagner enters the matchup allowing 221.1 passing yards per game, so Roberts and Capers Jr. should be able to find success again this weekend.
With the win over Bryant, the Dukes improved their record to 5-3 on the season, and 2-1 in conference play. The upcoming games are must-wins for the Dukes in order to preserve hope of defending their NEC Championship, as they currently sit behind Saint Francis in the standings, who is 6-3 on the season and has a perfect 4-0 record in conference play.