The Duquesne Dukes beat the West Liberty Hilltoppers today 27 – 14 and evened out their record to 2 – 2. And that’s about it.
There was not a lot to get excited about in this win as the Dukes failed to execute in each of the key areas we noted as important in our game preview save one.
The offense had a single scoring drive that was helped by penalties. They failed to put together a complete drive on their own for the entire game against a mediocre Division II squad.
The defense took three turnovers from a bad offense to the house, but they also allowed two touchdowns. Unremarkable except that WLU’s total offensive touchdowns from four prior games is one.
Tackling issues continued. There were many times that the Hilltopper running backs bypassed the entirety of the front seven on their way to a gain. Running back Marty Bishop had 81 yards today, nearly double his average per game.
The offensive line continued to struggle as well. It wasn’t so much that they were shaky – though they were – it’s that they missed blocking assignments so very badly. The protection scheme of the Dukes is either badly flawed or the line doesn’t know how to execute it. The last Buechel interception came as he was hit by a player who was completely unblocked on his way to the quarterback. That’s simply unacceptable. The running backs share blame for that one.
In general the Dukes looked confused and unready. There were a few timeouts that the Dukes were forced to take when the offense couldn’t get the play set correctly. Wide receivers continued to miss catches that they had their hands on. There was the attempt to field a punt that was bouncing into the end zone. West Liberty fans with a better vantage point than I were calling for a safety there. There was the team’s inability to find Radzukinas and get him on the field when they wanted him to come in as an eligible receiver to help convert a third and one. The whole bench was looking around shouting “Rad! Rad!”
Every time the offense looked like they were getting something going, there would be a penalty and they would prove unable to overcome it.
There were a few positives. One was the turnovers that the defense racked up, considering that they hadn’t done a lot in that way since the Albany game. Another was the tackles for loss that they had, another scarce commodity thus far this year. Christian Kuntz separated himself, with eight tackles and a forced fumble. Ryan Ho’s 18 carries for 70 yards is an improvement, but most of the gains came from sweeps to the outside. Most times that he went up the middle, the play resulted in a tackle for a loss. Jason Douglas looked alright in his seven carries.
Crimmins and Fleck both continued to be solid, and both had some booming kicks. Crimmins had a nice one for a touchback and Fleck booted a nifty pooch punt that pinned West Liberty down at their own goal line.
Many times in the preview article, we said “If the Dukes can’t do it today, they’re in trouble.” Unfortunately, the Dukes may be in trouble. The coaching staff had two instances of long rests earlier this year and improvements haven’t come. They need answers, and quickly, or they will struggle rather than flourish in NEC play.