Saturday, Sept. 27 at 1:00 p.m.
Arthur J. Rooney Athletic Field (2,200/Sportexe) -- Pittsburgh, Pa.
DUKES WELCOME DAYTON
Dayton, a member of the Pioneer Football League, is the owner of the longest win streak at the FCS level at 10 in a row. The Flyers, who have defeated Central State (Ohio) (31-12) and Patriot League preseason favorite Fordham (23-20), are coming off a 31-17 home win over NEC member Robert Morris. The Flyers, under first-year coach Rick Chamberlin, return eight starters from their championship team.
Duquesne, which is 23-10 in non-conference home games at Rooney Field (17-5 since 1999), scored all 21 points in the second quarter of Saturday's win. DU opened the season with a 48-42 loss at Bucknell. Duquesne first-year sophomore quarterback Connor Dixon (Michigan State transfer), has thrown for nine touchdowns in two games. His 329 yards of total offense/g. ranks 3rd in the FCS and his 172.86 pass efficiency rating ranks sixth nationally. As a team, DU ranks sixth in passing offense. The Dukes, who rank ninth nationally in sacks allowed (one in 73 pass attempts), will face a Dayton defense that ranks first in the nation in sacks per game (14 in three games). UD's 6-3, 237-pound senior tackle Sean Heenan ranks third nationally with 1.3 sacks/g. Dayton forced five turnovers (four INTs and a fumble recovery) in its win over Robert Morris.
DUKES AND FLYERS
Although Dayton and Duquesne share membership in the Atlantic 10 Conference in other sports, football meetings between the two schools have been scarce. The Dayton/Duquesne football series dates all the way back to a 20-0 Duquesne home win over the Flyers on Nov. 13, 1920. The two also met in a home-and-home series in 1923 and 1924 with Dayton winning 27-0 at Pittsburgh on Oct. 6, 1923 and also taking a 28-0 decision on Oct. 18, 1924 at Dayton. Dayton's 42-16 win at Rooney Field in 2001 - in addition to ending a 14-game DU home winning streak - marked a renewal of the series. In 2002, Duquesne, ranked No. 2 in The Sports Network I-AA Mid-Major Top 10, went to Dayton and defeated the No. 1 Flyers 35-28. This is Dayton's second trip to Pittsburgh since 1923.
The quarterback and placekicker for the Dukes in the 1920 win over Dayton was none other than Art Rooney. Rooney, for whom Duquesne's home field is named, went on to become one of the most respected figures in the history of the National Football League as the owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Rooney was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1964.
TWO TOP TEAMS
The Duquesne vs. Dayton game matches two of the four most successful teams in NCAA FCS in the decade of the 2000s. Entering this year, Duquesne ranked fourth on the winning percentage list at .753 since 2000 (64-21), while Dayton ranked second (69-18, .793) over that same span.
Dayton is currently among "others receiving votes" in the Sports Network FCS Poll ... the Flyers have not been shut out in 356 games ... it is the longest streak in all of college football ... 5-9, 164-pound senior quarterback Rob Florian has completed 52.5 percent of his passes for 559 yards and four touchdowns ... he is also the Flyers' second-leading ballcarrier with 26 carries for 60 yards ... senior RB Ben Shappie leads UD with 37 carries for 122 yards and two scores ... sophomore SE Steve Valentino has a team-high 172 yards receiving (57.3/g.) and team-best three touchdowns ... Dayton ranks seventh nationally in rushing defense (52.67 ypg.), first in sacks (4.67/g.) and fifth in tackles for loss (9.67/g.) ... the Flyers have forced six fumbles and UD' Scott Vossler has blocked three kicks ... Dayton has outscored opponents 52-20 in the first half.
LEFTOVERS FROM SAINT FRANCIS
Notes from Duquesne's NEC-opening 21-7 win over Saint Francis on Saturday:
- The win was Duquesne's tenth in a row over Saint Francis, Pa. ... the Dukes lead the overall series 30-5
- Saint Francis had three red zone turnovers (all interceptions) in the first half
- DU intercepted two passes at its own 12 and one at its own two-yard line and followed the last two with scores
- Neither team punted in the first half ... the first punt of the game came at the 12:54 mark of the third quarter when a Saint Francis drive stalled ... Duquesne's first punt came on the ensuing possession
- The two teams combined for 437 yards in the first half and 181 in the second
- Sophomore quarterback Connor Dixon (South Park, Pa./South Park), who threw for 429 yards and a school record six touchdown passes in his first career collegiate start at Bucknell on Sept. 6, completed 13-of-25 passes for 211 yards and three touchdowns ... Dixon once again started slowly, completing 2-of-8 passes for four yards in the first quarter ... the 6-4, 200-pounder was 5-of-5 for 150 yards in the second quarter alone ... in two games this season, the first-year sophomore is 4-of-14 for 13 yards in first quarter play
- Freshman linebacker Chidozie Oparanozie (Pittsburgh, Pa./The Linsly School (W.Va.) stopped a pair of SFU drives with interceptions at the DU 12 and two yard lines ... he returned the first pick 55 yards to set up one touchdown and his second interception was followed by a 91-yard Dixon-to-Conrad Carter touchdown pass ... Oparanozie, who finished the game with six stops (four solo), was named NEC Rookie of the Week for his effort
- Junior tailback Cleodis Williams (Carlisle, Pa./Carlisle) posted his first career 100-yard game with 129 yards on 23 carries ... Williams rushed for 77 yards (on nine carries) in the first half
- Senior receiver Conrad Carter (Clinton, Md./Archbishop Carroll) caught four passes for a career-high 107 yards ... it was the first 100-yard game of his career ... The Dixon-to-Carter 91-yard touchdown pass with eight seconds left in the first half was the second-longest pass play in school history, second only to a 95-yard Tony Zimmerman-to-Jeremy Conley connection at Siena in 1998 ... it was the longest pass play in Rooney Field (1993) history
- Sophomore Nathan Totino (Pittsburgh, Pa./Seton-La Salle), who had a game- and career-high 16 tackles (10 solo) in the season opener at Bucknell, posted a game-high 11 stops for the Dukes.
Michigan State transfer Connor Dixon (South Park, Pa./South Park), who won a spirited battle with returning starter Kevin Rombach (Harrisburg, Pa./Central Dauphin) for the starting quarterback position, has thrown for nine touchdowns in two games. Dixon, who was the No. 2 quarterback at Michigan State last season, has put up those numbers despite slow starts in his first two games. Here are the South Park, Pa. native's stats by quarter:
Comp. Att. Pct. Yds. Int. TDs 1st Q 4 14 .286 13 0 0 2nd Q 15 17 .882 229 0 4 3rd Q 9 12 .750 174 1 1 4th Q 15 29 .517 224 0 4 TOTALS 43 72 .597 640 1 9
This is the first extended playing time for Dixon since he led South Park HS to the Class AA Pennsylvania State Championship with a 16-0 record in 2005 ... Dixon redshirted at Michigan State in 2006 and played in one game for the Spartans last season before deciding to transfer closer to home in June ... Dixon was rated as a top 20 quarterback nationally (No. 17 by rivals.com) prior to committing to MSU.
Senior captain Greg Hough (Gibsonia, Pa./Pine-Richland), who moved from running back to linebacker in the spring, is back at running back. Hough played in the opener at LB prior to making the move back to the offensive side of the ball during the off week. Hough began his career as a running back in 2005 and was a first team All-MAAC linebacker in 2006. He was a second team All-MAAC running back last season leading the team with 191 carries for 801 yards and five touchdowns. Hough set the school record for longest interception return when he took one back 98 yards for a score at La Salle in ‘06.
Junior Cleodis Williams (Carlisle, Pa./Carlisle), who missed the past two seasons while attending to academic issues, has assumed the featured running back role this season. Williams, who last saw action as a freshman in 2005, took a short pass 38 yards for a TD at Bucknell and followed that with 129 yards on 23 carries vs. Saint Francis. The 129 yards were most by a DU back in the Jerry Schmitt Era and most since James Jacobs ran for 157 yards at La Salle on Nov. 6, 2004.
Senior Alex Roberson (Waynesboro, Ga./Curtis Baptist Upper School), DU's top returning receiver, set career highs for catches (11) and yards (154) in the opener at Bucknell and followed that with three catches for 51 yards - including a 12-yard TD - vs. Saint Francis. Roberson, who entered the season averaging 16.9 yards per catch for his career, averaged 20.2 yards on 34 catches last season. He has caught at least one pass in each of the past 24 games he has played and topped the 100-yard mark in five of his past nine games. Fellow senior Conrad Carter (Clinton, Md./Archbishop Carroll) has caught a pass in 20-straight games. Carter, who leads the team with three TD receptions, pulled in a Rooney Field record 91-yard touchdown pass with eight seconds left in the first half vs. Saint Francis. The pass play was the secoond-longest in school history and longest ever at Rooney Field. Carter now has touchdown catches of 91 (Sr.), 66 (Fr.), 56 (So.) and 49 (Jr.) yards to his credit.
TOTINO KNOWS TACKLES
Sophomore linebacker Nathan Totino (Pittsburgh, Pa./Seton-La Salle), who ranked fourth nationally among FCS freshmen with an average of 9.3 tackles per game last season (93 stops in 10 games), leads the Dukes with 27 stops. Totino, who was named MAAC Rookie of the Week five times on the way to being named 2007 MAAC co-Rookie of the Year, posted a career-high 16 tackles (10 solo) at Bucknell and followed that with a game-high 11 stops vs. Saint Francis.
GREEN AND GROWING
Fifty-six of the 85 players on the current roster are freshmen or sophomores. The breakdown: seniors (9), juniors (20), sophomores (17) and freshmen (39). Sixteen freshman - including six freshman starters - played in the opener at Bucknell. In all, 11 players made their first career starts at Bucknell. The 2-deep for the Daytion game lists seven freshman starters, including five on defense: DE Ashton Burno, MLB Chidozie Oparanozie, OLB Wiley Brown, SS Akeem Moore and CB Aaron Fitzpatrick. Two more freshmen are slated to start on the offensive line: LG Cameron Downey & RG Ron Dunn.