Saturday, Oct. 25 at 1:00 p.m. - Homecoming
Arthur J. Rooney Athletic Field (2,000/Sportexe) • Pittsburgh, Pa.
DUKES HOST SACRED HEART
Duquesne (2-4, 1-3), looking to snap a three-game losing streak, returns home to face Sacred Heart in its annual Homecoming game at 1:00 on Saturday, Oct. 25 (WMNY-AM 1360). Sacred Heart, the preseason pick to finish seventh in the Northeast Conference, has been the surprise team of the league with a 6-1 record (2-1 in NEC play). The Pioneers suffered their first loss of the season last weekend against Albany (26-21).
SHU is 3-0 on the road with wins over former MAAC schools Iona (44-24) and Marist (28-16) in addition to a conference win at Saint Francis (41-24). SHU has topped the 40 point mark three times and not scored fewer than 21 points in a game so far this season.
The young Dukes' defense has surrendered 835 rushing yards in losses to Albany (33-23, at Robert Morris (34-27) and at Central Connecticut State (35-23) in the past three weeks. SHU, which was held to 51 yards rushing by Albany, boasts the nation's eighth-leading rusher in senior Evin Jones (122.57 ypg.). Jones, who had a season-high 210 yards in Sacred Heart's 42-21 season-opening win over Assumption, ran for 187 yards against Robert Morris on Oct. 4.
The Pioneers have had their share of trouble against the run as Albany rolled up 320 yards on the ground last week. SHU ranks 85th nationally in total defense and 94th in pass defense.
Duquesne, which started seven freshmen on defense last weekend, ranks 93rd in total defense and 114th in rushing yardage allowed (223.67 ypg.). Duquesne first-year sophomore quarterback Connor Dixon (Michigan State transfer) has thrown at least two TD passes in five of six games. Dixon has thrown for 1,536 yards and 16 touchdowns in six games.
DU ranks 17th nationally in passing offense and 41st in total offense. Dixon, who has thrown just five interceptions, will be going up against a SHU secondary that has 11 picks in seven games.
DU outside linebacker Nathan Totino ranks tied for first nationally with 15.0 tackles per game. The Oct. 6 NEC Defensive Player of the Week has had 10 or more tackles in each of DU's first six games.
This is fourth meeting between the Dukes and Pioneers with DU holding a 2-1 series advantage ... in the first game between the two, Sacred Heart defeated Duquesne 31-15 on Dec. 1, 2001 in the ECAC Classic at Rooney Field ... the last two meetings - both Duquesne wins - have been decided on the game's final play ... two years ago, Sacred Heart drove to the Duquesne three with three seconds left when holder Dario Melendez took a high snap from center, hesitated in putting the ball down, rolled to his right and threw a pass that was knocked to the ground in the end zone by John Simmons as time expired to give Duquesne a dramatic 24-21 win at Rooney Field ... last year, Aaron Strader's interception in the end zone in overtime preserved a 30-23 victory for the Dukes at SHU ... Strader, who was called for pass interference on fourth down on the previous play, stepped in front of Tyler McKeon's pass to end Sacred Heart's comeback attempt ... the Pioneers, who were down 23-14 entering the fourth quarter, tied the game when John Wilson returned a blocked punt 18 yards for a score with nine minutes left.
ON SACRED HEART
Sacred Heart opened 6-0 prior to last week's 26-21 loss to Albany ... the Pioneers, who have scored at least 21 points in every game this season, rank 24th nationally in scoring offense at 32.57 ppg. ... SHU is the only FCS school that has yet to surrender a sack this season (a nation's-best zero in 217 pass attempts) ... Sacred Heart is tied for 12th nationally with 11 interceptions in seven games ... SHU has scored on 24 of 27 red zone possessions (22 touchdowns) ... sophomore quarterback Dale Fink - the 2007 NEC Rookie of the Year - has completed 68.7 percent of his passes this season ... Fink has thrown for 1,526 yards and 17 touchdowns in seven games ... senior RB Evin Jones ranks tied for eighth nationally in rushing yardage at 122.57 yards per game ... he has four 100 yard games this season, with a high of 210 in the season-opener vs. Assumption ... junior receiver Steve Tedesco is the school record holder for career catches (133) and touchdown receptions (23) ... he enters the Duquesne game needing 77 yards to secure the school record for career receiving yardage.
LEFTOVERS FROM CCSU
- Central Connecticut scored touchdowns on its first three possessions and did not punt until the 55 second mark of the second quarter
- The DU defense rallied to force three punts and a turnover (fumble) in the second half
- CCSU, which entered the game ranked 10th nationally in rushing yards per game (225.0), finished with 286 yards on the ground
- The Blue Devils' James Mallory, who finished with 126 yards on 37 carries, went over the 100-yard mark with seven minutes left in the third quarter
- CCSU converted 3-of-3 fourth downs
- Four Dukes - including three freshmen - made their first career start on defense: sophomore (and first year Duquesne player) DE Tyler Scruggs, freshman DT Mike Passodelis, freshman DT Aldon Sutton and freshman LB Chris Oliver .
- Connor Dixon (South Park, Pa./South Park) completed 19-of-31 passes for 198 yards and three touchdowns (5, 14 and 3 yards) ... he has thrown 16 touchdown passes in six games and thrown for two or more scores in five of six games
- Junior tailback Cleodis Williams (Carlisle, Pa./Carlisle) rushed 20 times for a game and career high 139 yards (6.9 yards per carry) ... it was Williams' third 100-yard game of the season ... his previous career high was 129 yards against Saint Francis on Sept. 20
- Sophomore linebacker Nathan Totino (Pittsburgh, Pa./Seton-La Salle), extended his double-digit tackles streak to six games with a game-high 16 stops (9 solo) ... Totino is now averaging 15.0 tackles per game ... Totino also forced a fumble
- Freshman defensive lineman Mike Passodelis (Allison Park, Pa./North Allegheny) had seven tackles (three solo) in his first career start