Digesting What We Saw in Week 2 on the Gridiron plus other NEC fall sports news

The expectations were high for Duquesne heading into the 2011 season, but the Dukes were looking at a possible 0-2 start as they trailed Dayton in the third quarter on Saturday one week after their last-minute 27-26 loss at Bucknell in the season opener.

The NEC coaches tabbed the Dukes for a second-place finish in their annual preseason poll one year after Jerry Schmitt’s team posted a seven-win season that included a 5-3 conference mark. 

Duquesne’s stock is clearly bullish in a number of eyes.  Pittsburgh Tribune-Review writer John Mackey wrote in a preseason story entitled RMU, Duquesne making NEC ‘Burgh thing – “…Duquesne will challenge preseason favorite Central Connecticut State…”

The bottom line is the Dukes are expected to be a “good team.” And although there is still a lot of football yet to play, they did something that “good teams” are notoriously good at doing.

They bounced back. 

They hit a Week 1 road bump, suffering a disappointing season-opening setback that included a missed extra point and the squandering on a 13-point lead, and were on the road again against a formidable foe in Dayton.

The Flyers, who have won at least a share of the Pioneer League title in three of the past four seasons, had won 10 straight games to account for the longest active streak in Division I FCS.

But that wouldn’t faze Duquesne, which was the last team to beat Dayton having done so on Sept. 11, 2010.

With the game deadlocked at 13 apiece and 3:37 left on the clock, NEC Offensive Player of the Week Sean Patterson executed a new flawless 2:00 Drill and marched the Dukes down the field to set up a go-ahead field goal attempt by Charlie Leventry.

Just as he was with his game-tying 40-yarder in the third quarter, Leventry was on the mark with 30 seconds left in the game.

Dayton wasn’t done yet, but neither were the Dukes.  The Flyers were able to set up a 50-yard field goal try on the game’s final play, but Duquesne cornerback Jared Williams stuffed the kicked and took it 48 yards the other way to pay dirt.

Quite a remarkable three minutes and 37 seconds of football.

Related Story:

UD football’s 10-game win streak ends in last seconds of game – Springfield News-Sun

Hangin’ Tough
Playing on the road is never easy.  Playing on the road in front of record crowds against nationally-ranked opponents turns the difficulty level up even higher.

Both Wagner and NEC preseason favorite Central Connecticut received a taste of that this past Saturday night traveling to CAA members Richmond and James Madison, respectively.

Walt Hameline’s Seahawks accounted of somewhat of an uneasy feeling amongst the crowd of 8,700 fans at Robins Stadium.  Wagner had already twice picked off Richmond QB Aaron Corp and preseason all-NEC kicker David Lopez had just nailed a 45-yarder.  The game was heading into the fourth quarter and the Seahawks were very much in it, trailing by just a touchdown and two-point conversion.  

Atoning for his previous errors, Corp hit Tre Gray for a 25-yard gain on the first play of the final quarter.  That drive, which directly followed Lopez’s big kick, ended with the #9 Spiders adding an insurance touchdown that would finally allow the Robins Stadium crowd to breathe a bit easier on the way to a 21-6 win.

Meanwhile, the 25,102 fans, who accounted for the largest ever crowd at Bridgeforth Stadium, had even more reason to squirm.

Central Connecticut has completely taken away James Madison passing attack and trailed the #19 Dukes by only a 7-3 margin.  With just over 10:00 remaining in the fourth quarter, CCSU QB Gunnar Jespersen hit Nick Baccarella for a 22-yard gain down to the JMU 11-yard line. 

The Blue Devils were on the doorstep, 11 yards away from a potential go-ahead TD.

As was the case with Richmond, the host Dukes bended but didn’t break.

The stopped Lawton Arnold just shy of the 1-yard line on a fourth-down carry in what was the turning point of the game.

They all look the same in the loss column, but considering the circumstances, Wagner and Central did alright for themselves.

Related Stories:

CCSU football hangs with JMU, falls short – New Britain Herald
UR overcomes turnovers to beat Wagner – Richmond Times-Dispatch


Phenomenal Field Hockey Performances
Monmouth’s Michelle Pieczynski and Quinnpiac’s Jess Rusin both recorded hat tricks in leading their respective teams to victory last week, but neither of the forwards earned the NEC Field Hockey Player of the Week award.  That distinction went to Robert Morris rookie Michelle Lewthwaite. 

To say Lewthwaite had “ice in her veins” during the Colonials’ win over Colgate would be an understatement.  In the clutchest of clutch performances, the defender stuffed home a shot off a penalty corner to tie Colgate with one second left in regulation and force overtime.  Then, six minutes into the extra period, Lewthwaite blasted home the game-winner off a set piece from the top of the circle.

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