Dukes Top Bucknell, 24-19, in Season Opener

With a bit less than a minute to go in the first half, starting senior QB Kevin Rombach called a timeout before a second down play. Junior Connor Dixon, who is recovering from shoulder surgery, came in and built on his teammate's start as Duquesne downed Bucknell, 24-19, in the season opener Saturday night at Rooney Field.

Box Score | Duquesne press release | Bucknell release

Kevin Rombach left the game because he had suffered a concussion. Connor Dixon, who was the starter last season, was called on to take over. Even though he isn't 100 percent, the junior Michigan State transfer completed 15-of-21 passes for 212 yards including a 35-yard touchdown toss to junior David Williams.

Williams led all players with 11 catches for 145 yards. The starting flanker is in his first season with the Dukes. Williams transferred to DU for the Spring 2009 semester from Michigan State, reuniting with Dixon. This provided a comfort level for Dixon who is not yet 100 percent, according to head coach Jerry Schmit's post-game interview with the RedZoneMedia.com announcers.

Duquesne had some trouble with Bucknell's running attack, especially when led by C.J. Hopson. The backup quarterback had a game-best 138 yards on 18 carries. The Bison gained 208 yards on the ground to Duquesne's 107 but trailed the Red and Blue, 322-208, in the passing game.

Senior running back Cleodis Williams was unable to play today because of a leg injury, "He was hobbling," said Coach Schmitt. This gave freshman Larry McCoy and sophomore Bill Bair an opportunity to get into the action. Bair had nine carries for 55 yards, including a 32-yard touchdown, and McCoy gained 31 yards on 14 runs.

Duquesne, which moved into a 3-4 defense for much of the game, had a 3-0 edge in turnovers. Starting QB Marcello Trigg had two passes intercepted, by junior Willie Millhouse and freshman Horvin Latimer. Latimer also recovered the fumble caused by junior Nathan Totino's tackle of A.J. Kizekai after the Bison senior had gained 12 yards and moved the ball to Duquesne's 19.

Freshman linebacker Anthony Rhoades and Totino combined for 22 tackles, 12 and 10 respectively. Sophomore defensive end Ashton Burno had two sacks.

The Dukes' rookie kickers definitely held their own. True freshman placekicker Eric Duale was 1-2 on field goals and 3-3 on extra point attempts. Redshirt freshman punter Charlie Leventry averaged 33.2 yards on five attempts, including two within the 20. Each also had a bad kick.

Both teams scored before three minutes were played in the game -- Duquesne on the opening drive when Rombach hit Michael Rasky for a 47-yard score. Bucknell answered via Trigg's 41-yard pass to Marlon Woods.

Duele hit a 19-yard field goal to break the 7-7 tie with 5:42 to go in the opening period. Bair's TD run midway through the second quarter increased the host's edge to 17-7.

Bucknell took the ball 66 yards in 4:13, scoring on Trigg's one yard run with 14 seconds remaining. Drew Orth's extra-point kick missed to keep the Dukes' more-than-field goal edge, 17-13.

Neither team moved the score in the third period. The Dukes increased the spread to 24-13 via Dixon's TD pass to Williams with 11:24 left to play.

Bucknell got the ball on their own 33 with 5:14 remaining in the game. Trigg hit Kizekai for a nine-yard touchdown with 0:54 seconds left. Trigg's pass on the two-point conversion was intercepted by freshman Serge Kona.

Sophomore Brooks Roorback controlled BU's onside kick. Unfortuanately, Rasky was injured on the play, another jolt to his sore shoulder.

Others may have been concerned about Duquesne's receiving corps which lost its top three starters, graduating wideouts Alex Roberson and Conrad Carter and tight end Sean Bunevich (season-ending injury). The coaches were not. Five different players had 22 receptions for 322 yards and a pair of scores.

Duquesne is now 9-4 in this series and has nine victories against Patriot League foes. Next Saturday, Septmeber 14, 2009, the Dukes head to Thibodaux, La. for a 2:00 p.m. ET game against Nicholls State at Guidry Stadium. The Colonials lost to Air Force, 72-0, today in Colorado Springs, Colo.

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