It was selected as the #NECFB on ESPN3 Game of the Week back in July.
As it turns out, Saturday’s regular season finale between Keystone State rivals Duquesne and Saint Francis will double as the 2015 NEC “Title Game.”
The winner will complete its NEC schedule with a 5-1 record and secure both sole possession of first place and the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division I FCS playoffs.
Duquesne, which had a bye this past Saturday, knew it would be playing for at least a share of the conference crown when the Red Flash visited The Bluff for the regular season finale. When the Week 11 results went final, it was clear that two teams would tussle for a FCS playoff bid during a Week 12 bout on Rooney Field.
Sacred Heart’s 28-19 victory over Bryant knocked the Bulldogs, who were the NEC preseason favorite, from title contention, while Saint Francis’ 21-0 shutout of Robert Morris assured the Red Flash a chance to play for their first-ever conference crown.
Although neither team has been to the Division I FCS playoffs before, Duquesne has tasted the NEC title twice since joining the league for the 2008 season. The Dukes shared the conference championship with Albany in 2011 and Sacred Heart in 2013, but missed out of the league’s automatic playoff bid on both occasions due to the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Meanwhile, the Red Flash, a charter member of NEC football whose time in the conference dates back to the 1996 inaugural season, are guaranteed to finish with a winning league record for the first time. Saint Francis, which has made great strides under the leadership of head coach Chris Villarrial, finished conference play with a .500 win percentage during each of the past three seasons. The Flash’s Week 11 triumph over RMU means that the team can finish with a league mark no worse than 4-2.
The home team has won each of the last three games in this series…
- Lance Geesey kicked four field goals in Saint Francis 26-16 victory in Loretto last November.
- Duquesne won the most-recent meeting in Pittsburgh, downing the Red Flash 21-10 in 2013. Dukes’ linebacker Christian Kuntz, who was a sophomore at the time, recorded 3.0 tackles for loss to spearhead a dominant team defensive effort that day.
- Duquesne was also home for the 2012 game, securing a 24-21 victory thanks to a 20-yard field goal with 00:32 remaining.
Click here to watch Saint Francis at Duquesne
Pregame Tweet Sheet
With Bryant’s loss to Sacred Heart today, the winner of next week’s Duquesne/St. Francis (Pa.) game will win the NEC championship.
— Doug Gulasy (@dgulasy_Trib) November 14, 2015
— Nick Redden (@nred66) November 15, 2015
— Mike Caputo (@mcaputo710) November 15, 2015