Dukes Knocked Down by Monmouth, 37-14

Chidozie Oparanozie had a game-best 13 tackles

The Duquesne football team's 37-14 loss to Monmouth Saturday afternoon at Rooney Field completed the 2008 season, the first in which the Red and Blue competed in the Northeast Conference. The Dukes ended the year with an unusual losing season, 3-7, 2-5 in the NEC.

GameTracker | Box Score | Duquesne press release


Duquesne, which last week stopped a five-game losing streak with a 14-0 win over Wagner on Staten Island, rotated junior Kevin Rombach and sophomore Connor Dixon at quarterback throughout the game.

Who was the signal caller wasn't the question; can Duquesne overpower Monmouth on both sides of the line, was. The answer was a convincing no. MU gained 497 yards while DU was held to 195, including 234 yards rushing versus 61.

Monmouth senior David Sinisi gained 174 yards, more than his FCS-best 150.0 ypg, and scored three touchdowns. Quarterback Billy Burke was 14-of-23 for 283 yards and two touchdowns of 57 and 83 yards.

Rombach was 12-of-16 for 71 yards and a 10-yard touchdown jaunt and Dixon hit 6-of-11 for 63 yards and DU's other score.

Cleodis Williams was held to 38 yards after recording his fourth 100+ yard game of the season last week. Sophomore Jay Spinks grabbed a game-high seven passes for 57 yards. Freshman Chidozie Oparanozie, the NEC Rookie of the Week, had a game-best 13 tackles, 11 solo, and senior Eric Halberstadt, who had eight take-downs, pulled in the interception that setup Duquesne's first score.

The Dukes had three injuries serious enough for lengthy timeouts. Linebacker Tyler Scruggs was the only one able to return to the field; wide receiver Alex Roberson, in his finale as a Duke, and defensive back Willie Millhouse, whose 57-yard kickoff return setup the final TD, each missed the remainder of the game.

Monmouth finished the season with a 7-4 overall mark, 6-1 in the NEC which is good for second place. Albany (8-3) topped Wagner, 30-11, this afternoon for a perfect 7-0 in leasgue play and a trip to the postseason bowl versus the Pioneer League Champs, either Dayton or Jacksonville, which tied for first with 6-1 PFL marks.


Monmouth took the opening kickoff for the game's first score, a one-yard Sinisi touchdown. The Hawks converted both third down situations on the 10-play drive.

Duquesne, forced to punt after a three-and-out, got an answer from the defense when Halberstadt intercepted Brett Burke and returned the ball 24 yards to the Monmouth 10. Rombach's play fake let the junior run untouched for Duquesne's first score.

Monmouth's Fred Weingart hit a 39-yard field goal to return the visitors to the lead, 10-7.

Dixon, in for the next series set up at Monmouth's 38-yard line by Millhouse's kickoff return of 57 yards, scrambled for nine yards during the six-play drive. He hit Brian Layhue for the second time, on a 3-yard pass in the end zone putting the Dukes on top for the first (and only) time, 14-10, with 1:30 left in the first quarter.

Monmouth, on the second play of the ensuing series, regained the lead when Burke hit Rodney Solomon for a 57-yard touchdown and a 17-14 lead.

After scoring 31 points in the first quarter, the defenses took over to keep both teams off the board in the second period.

Duquesne, with Rombach back in at QB, drove to the Monmouth 6 but came away with no points after senior Mark Troyan's 32-yard FG attempt was blocked. Monmouth took the ball 78 yards for a touchdown, with all but 10 gained by Sinisi. Sinisi rambled 33 yards for the score.

After their defense held the Dukes to another 3-and-out, Burke hit John Nalbone for an 83-yard touchdown. The PAT was off, keeping the deficit at 30-14 with 1:20 left in the third quarter.

Dixon, who came in for the Red and Blue's next series, was sacked and fumbled the ball. Monmouth took over on DU's 11 and Sinisi grabbed another score, another one-yarder. The score, 37-14, 13:56 left to play.

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