Impactful defense and effective quarterback play resulted in two historic victories for Northeast Conference football teams on Saturday afternoon.
With all-NEC starting quarterback Joe Mischler sidelined by injury, Duquesne’s Darius Perrantes accounted for a 66.7 completion percentage and two touchdowns in a 28-26 victory over MAC member Ohio.
After Brian Bruzdewicz’s fourth field goal of the day bumped the lead to 28-20 late in the fourth quarter, the Dukes needed one final defensive impact play to secure the program’s first-ever victory over a FBS opponent.
Ohio found the end zone with 00:09 remaining, but Duquesne denied the game-tying two-point conversion attempt.
Merrimack starting quarterback Westin Elliott completed 68.6 percent of his passes and threw a pair of touchdowns to spoil Patriot League preseason favorite Holy Cross’ home opener.
The Warriors’ defense limited the Crusaders to six first downs passing and Anthony Witherstone’s second-quarter 30-yard interception return touchdown gave Merrimack a lead that it never relinquished.
The 35-21 triumph is Merrimack’s first-ever win over a FCS top-25 team and it happened only one week after Holy Cross posted a 10-point victory at FBS member UConn. The Warriors also ran the ball effectively with Victor Dawson gaining 111 yards on 19 carries.