PITTSBURGH- Monmouth University’s (2-1, 0-0 Big South) comeback attempt fell short to Duquesne (2-2, 0-0 NEC) 30-21 on Saturday afternoon at Rooney Field.

Monmouth Hawks on the field (Monmouth Athletics)

After Monmouth took a 7-0 drive on its first drive, Duquesne scored 24 unanswered points, including 17 in the second quarter to take a commanding lead, one it would not relinquish. Monmouth battled back in the second half closing to within six points in the fourth quarter but the Dukes added a late field goal and were able to hold on for the nine point win.

“I didn’t think we played well enough in the first half to give ourselves an opportunity to win the game,” said Monmouth Head Coach Kevin Callahan. “In the second half I was happy the way our players fought back and got themselves back in it.  We put ourselves in the position that it was a one score game and we had the ball. If we could have been able to get on the board at that point I think it could have changed the outcome.  We didn’t have the ability to make plays when we really needed to today. Duquesne did a good job along the defensive line and we made it difficult for us to find any consistency in the run game. Without being able to run the ball, it made throwing the ball all that more difficult.”
Duke quarterback Dillon Buechel was 29-of-46 for 344 yards and two touchdowns, both to wide receiver Chris King who finished with 10 catches for 124 yards. Brandon Hill (Audubon, N.J./Audubon/UMass) was 24-of-42 for 258 yards and a pair of touchdown passes. The Duquesne defense was stout against the run, holding Monmouth’s explosive rushing attack to 38 net yards.

The Hawks moved the ball fluidly on the opening drive of the game, converting three third downs and a fourth down in an 11-play drive that culminated in a Hill to Neal Sterling (Manasquan, N.J./Belmar) 17 yard score.

The Dukes then went on a run scoring three touchdowns on three consecutive drives, while the Duquesne forced three straight punts. Duquesne needed two plays to tie the game up when Buechel connected with Chris King for a 55 yard strike with 8:01 left in the first quarter. After its defense held, Duquesne’s Ryan Ho sliced off the left side of the line for an 8-yard touchdown and a 14-7 lead. Buechel again found King, this time for a six yard touchdown on a fade, putting the home squad ahead 21-7 midway through the second quarter. The Dukes extended its lead right before the half on a 23 yard Austin Crimmons field goal capping a 75 yard drive that ate up 3:22 and went 11 plays.

Duquesne extended its lead to 27-7 on the second Duke drive of the second half when Crimmons converted a 36 yard field goal with 7:40 remaining in the third frame.

Monmouth cut the lead to 13 after a Ryan Mohr (West Orange, N.J./St. Peter’s Prep) punt pinned the Dukes deep and the defense forced a three-and-out. The Hawks received great field position after a shanked punt gave MU the ball at the Duquesne 36. Hill hit tight end Hakeem Valles (Sicklerville, N.J./The Peddie School) for a two yard touchdown, the seniors second of the his career. The play was set up by a 27 yard Hill to Darren Ambush (Dickerson, Md./Urbana) connection that got the ball down to the Duke two yard line. The six-play 36 yard drive took just 1:32 off the clock.

The biggest play of the game for Monmouth came on the ensuing drive, after Duquesne got great field position off the kickoff. On a third and seven Buechel zipped a ball that King couldn’t handle and sophomore Teddie Martinez (Baltimore, Md./St. Paul’s) recorded his first career interception, returning it 51 yards down to the Duquesne six. One play later Lavon Chaney (Edgewater, Md./South River) piled in for his second touchdown of the season, cutting the Duke lead to 27-21 with 14:47 remaining. The Dukes added a late Crimmons field goal to finish the scoring and then held firm on defense to secure the win.

Duquesne racked up 447 yards, including 103 on the ground and 344 in the air. Monmouth had 296 yards and were led by Sterling and Lamar Davenport (Asbury Park, N.J./Asbury Park) each had 53 yards receiving. Chaney led MU on the ground with eight carries for 33 yards.

Rahming and King each eclipsed the 100-yard plateau, with Rahming catching 11 passes for 129 yards and King hauling in two scores on 10 catches for 124 yards. Ho led the Dukes on the ground with 13 carries for 43 yards.

Defensively, John Sieczkowski (Manalapan, N.J./Manalapan) led all players with a career-high 11 tackles. Safety Kevin Butler (Piscataway, N.J./Piscataway) had a career high 10 tackles while Mike Basile (Brick, N.J./Brick Memorial) added eight takedowns. Duquesne cornerback Malik Shegog led the Dukes defensively with nine tackles.

Monmouth is back on the road next weekend when they face Lehigh at 1 p.m. in Bethlehem.


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