Saturday, Oct. 18 at 1:00 p.m.
Arute Field (3,000/field turf) • New Britain, Conn.
DUKES AT CCSU FOR FIRST TIME SINCE 1993
Duquesne (2-3, 1-2), coming off back-to-back losses to Albany and Robert Morris, hits the road to face Central Connecticut State at 1:00 on Saturday, Oct. 18 (WMNY-AM 1360).
The Blue Devils, the preseason pick to finish third in the Northeast Conference, are off to a 4-2 start (1-1 in league play). This is DU's first trip to New Britain since a 41-22 loss to CCSU on Nov. 13, 1993 (Duquesne's first season at the then-I-AA non-scholarship level).
The young Dukes' defense, which surrendered a total of 549 rushing yards in the losses to Albany (33-23) and at Robert Morris (34-27), faces the formidable task of slowing a CCSU ground game that ranks 10th nationally at 225 yards per game.
The Blue Devils own a conference win over Wagner (35-10) and rallied from a 24-9 fourth-quarter deficit only to see a potential game-tying two-point conversion pass fall incomplete with under a minute left in a 24-22 loss. Junior running back James Mallory, who ranks sixth nationally with a 141.3 yards per game average, leads the CCSU ground game. Mallory, who had 256 yards on 29 carries in a season-opening 42-35 win over Bryant, has run for 100 or more yards in five of Central Connecticut's six games.
Duquesne, which starts five freshmen on defense has seen Albany's David McCarty (37-230-0) and Robert Morris' Myles Russ (37-246-2) both top 200 yards rushing in each of the past two games. The DU defense ranks 105th nationally in rushing yardage allowed (211.2 ypg.). Duquesne first-year sophomore quarterback Connor Dixon (Michigan State transfer), who had thrown for at least two TDs in each of his first four starts, struggled at Robert Morris going 13-of-23 for 130 yards and no scores. Dixon, who suffered a bruised left forearm late in the first quarter at RMU, missed a pair of possessions before returning. Despite the subpar performance at Robert Morris, Dixon has thrown for 1,338 yards and 13 touchdowns in five games. His 270.4 yards of total offense/g. ranks 16th in the FCS. As a team, DU ranks 12th nationally in passing offense and 40th in total offense.
Outside linebacker Nathan Totino, bolstered by a 23 tackle performance against Albany two week's ago, ranks second nationally with 14.8 tackles per game. The Oct. 6 NEC Defensive Player of the Week has had 10 or more tackles in each of DU's first five games.
Duquesne and Central Connecticut State have met just once, with the Blue Devils defeating the Dukes 41-22 at Arute Field ... in that game the Dukes, in their first season at the I-AA non-scholarship level, jumped out to a 16-0 second quarter lead only to see CCSU reel off 27 consecutive points on the way to the win in front of 880 fans ... the ‘93 Dukes finished 4-6 in their first season under head coach Greg Gattuso.
ON THE ROAD
This is just the third time Duquesne will leave the state of Pennsylvania to play a Northeast Conference school ... the Dukes, who have played at NEC in-state foes Robert Morris and Saint Francis, Pa. on numerous occasions, have only played at Monmouth (a 31-20 loss in the final game of last season) in regular season play. The only other trip to an NEC out-of-state stadium was for a 24-0 loss at Albany in the 2002 ECAC Classic.
ON CENTRAL CONNECTICUT STATE
CCSU fell a two-point conversion shy of completing a second-half comeback and forcing overtime in a 24-22 loss at Albany last weekend ... the Blue Devils, who trailed 24-9 in the fourth quarter, pulled to within two on a TD pass from Hunter Wanket to Tyler Rossnagle with 55 seconds left ... Wanket's pass to Nick Colagiovanni for the potential tie fell incomplete … Wanket, currently is his first season as a Blue Devil, enjoyed a career passing day at Albany ... the junior QB, who splits signal calling duties with junior Aubrey Norris, was 16-of-24 for 198 yards and a TD ... kicker Joe Izzo, who had only one career field goal attempt prior to visiting Albany, nailed all three of his three-point tries (24, 36, 26) against the Great Danes … junior James Mallory reached the 100-yard rushing mark for the fifth game this season, totaling 109 on 26 carries at UA ... Mallory is the sixth-leading rusher in Division I FCS with 848 yards in 159 attempts (5.3 ypc.) … CCSU is averaging 225 yards per game on the ground - good for first in the NEC and 10th in the nation in rushing offense … CCSU leads the NEC and is ninth in the nation in tackles for loss with 49 … the Blue Devils also have an NEC-high 17 sacks … Central Connecticut's 33 wins since 2004 are the fifth most victories among New England, New York and New Jersey FCS schools ... only New Hampshire, UMass, Harvard and Monmouth have more.
LEFTOVERS FROM RMU
- Robert Morris' victory ended Duquesne's series win streak at three games
- RMU's Myles Russ' 246 yards on 37 carries were the most by an opposing runner since Iona's Ralph Saldiveri carried 31 times for 248 yards against the Dukes in 1999 ... Russ' total was the second-highest by a DU opponent since Duquesne moved to the FCS level in 1993
- Connor Dixon (South Park, Pa./South Park) left the game with a left forearm injury following a 13 yard run with 6:04 left in the first quarter ... he returned with 4:33 remaining in the half
- Junior quarterback Kevin Rombach (Harrisburg, Pa./Central Dauphin), who had taken one snap from center in ‘08, threw a 31 yard touchdown pass to Alex Roberson on his first play ... the TD, which was Rombach's first pass attempt of the season, came on a fourth-and-four play ... Rombach completed 6-of-9 passes for 80 yards in a little over one quarter of play of the first half ... he played the first series of the second half and was 0-of-3 as the Dukes went three-and-out
- Eight different receivers combined for Duquesne's 19 total receptions
- Sophomore linebacker Nathan Totino (Pittsburgh, Pa./Seton-La Salle), extended his double-digit tackles streak to five games with a game-high 14 stops (5 solo) ... Totino, who entered the game averaging an FCS-best 15.0 tackles per game, saw his season average "dip" to 14.8
- Freshman linebacker Chidozie Oparanozie (Pittsburgh, Pa./The Linsly (WVa.) School) finished with 11 tackles (5 solo) ... it was the second-straight double-digit tackle game for the two-time NEC Rookie of the Week ... he has 31 total tackles in his past three games
DIXON AT THE HELM
Michigan State transfer Connor Dixon (South Park, Pa./South Park), who won a spirited battle with returning starter Kevin Rombach for the starting quarterback position, has thrown for 13 touchdowns in five games. The 6-4, 200-pounder completed 30-of-47 passes for 429 yards and a school record six TDs - including five in the second half - in DU's season-opening 48-42 loss at Bucknell. He put up those numbers despite completing 2-of-6 passes for nine yards in the first quarter. 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 (3-of-5 for 37 yards and a touchdown in MSU's 2007 opener against UAB) 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 Michigan State. The South Park, Pa. native is the second Football Bowl Subdivision quarterback to transfer to Duquesne in the past 10 years. Tony Zimmerman transferred from the University of Pittsburgh following his freshman season and set 14 school records in leading the Dukes to a 26-7 record and two Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference Football League championships in three years as a starter from 1998-00. Zimmerman threw for 7,313 yards and 73 touchdowns in 33 career games.
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), ranks second nationally with a 14.8 tackles per game average (74 in five games). 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 then career-high 16 tackles (10 solo) in the season opener at Bucknell and followed that with a game-high 11 stops vs. Saint Francis and a team-best 10 vs. Dayton. Totino topped them all with 23 tackles (13 solo) against Albany on the way to being named NEC Defensive Player of the Week. The 23 stops, which tied the single-game high by any FCS player this season (Murray State's Nathan Williams had 23 tackles against Illinois State on Sept. 13), were the most by a DU player since the school moved to the FCS level in 1993. The Pittsburgh native added a game-high 14 stops at Robert Morris. Totino, whose 11.1 career tackles per game average, ranks second among all FCS players, has led the Dukes in tackles in all five games this season.