The Dukes finished their conference schedule with a much needed win against the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils. The win, in combination with the Robert Morris loss to Sacred Heart, gave the Dukes their second share of an NEC conference title in the last three years. Largely, they did it in the way that we wanted them to. Let’s take a look at our goals versus the reality of the game.
1. Stop Holloman
The Dukes made Holloman look average, just as they did to Harbridge of SFU. He averaged just 2.5 yards per carry – a fantastic achievement for this defense considering how much he normally gets. Quarterback Nick SanGiacomo made some plays through the air, but then they were forced to because of the limitations faced by Holloman. He completed passes at a low clip – less than 50% – and also had an interception at a key moment. Forcing CCSU to be one dimensional was huge, and the Dukes pulled it off.
2. Offensive Efficiency
On the season, the Dukes averaged 3.0 yards per run and 11.4 yards per catch. During this game, the Dukes notched 3.9 per run and 13.1 per catch. This was a marked improvement and was a big reason why the offense was able to piece together five scoring drives (and one almost-scoring drive).
One must note the running game. Douglas and Dorsey – a shame Dorsey is a senior else we may call them the Killer Ds – combined to be in essence one back. If I told you that the Dukes would have a back take 22 carries for 111 yards and a touchdown, you’d take it, right? This is what the Killer Ds did today, averaging 5 yards per carry. Not too shabby. To provide context, the efficiency stat for the Blue Devils’ Rob Holloman is 5.2 per carry. The Dukes’ tandem was right up there with that of one of the best backs in FCS.
3. Complete Game
At the time, I wasn’t sure that this was true – several stalled offensive drives were there yet again. Still, the Dukes did what they needed to do. Buechel had one of his better stat lines in weeks – 22/36 for 288 yards and a touchdown. Rahming and Carter had monster days. The running game seemed to find a rhythm, with Dorsey as the short yardage back and Douglas as the finesse guy, as we mentioned above. The defense was effective and pulled in a key turnover.
If there was one black spot, it was special teams. The Dukes had a field goal blocked, and then the Blue Devils scored a touchdown on the ensuing drive. Pretend that all else would be constant and we’d have seen a final score of 27-14. That’s a ten-point swing and the second consecutive game with a field goal blocked. The kick coverage was iffy, though Fleck had another excellent coffin corner punt.
That notwithstanding, this was a more complete game than I initially gave the Dukes credit for.
The Dukes have one final game, away at Monmouth. While the playoff game remained elusive for this team, one more game to make a statement for these seniors is something special. It comes on the road and gives the team that last hurrah after the perils and triumphs of the conference slate.