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Duquesne beats St. Francis to claim first-ever NEC title

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Dukes earn automatic bid to FCS playoffs

The Duquesne football team (8-3, 5-1) won its first ever outright Northeast Conference title and earned the league's automatic bid to the NCAA FCS Championship with a 30-20 win over visiting Saint Francis Saturday on Rooney Field. It will be Duquesne's first trip to the play-offs.

The Dukes trailed visiting Saint Francis 14-0 early in the game, but scored the final 16 points of the first half and outscored the Red Flash, 14-6 in the second half.

The Red and Blue will find out their Nov. 28 opponent Sunday morning as the NCAA releases the bracket at 11:00 am on ESPNU.

Rafiq Douglas rushed for 153 yards and three touchdowns to pace the Duquesne offense. It was his second three touchdown performance in the past three games, giving him 11 scores on the season. He was assisted by receivers Wayne Capers (4-104-1 TD) and Chris King (7-95-0).

Defensively, Abner Roberts led the Dukes with eight tackles (6 solo), an interception with a 19 yard return and a pass break-up. Christian Kuntz added six tackles (5 solo), including two sacks for a loss of 13 yards and 2.5 tackles for a loss of 17 yards, giving him 23 TFL's for the season. Josh Jordan and Xavier Nelson also intercepted passes.

After forcing Duquesne to punt on the game's opening possession, Saint Francis scored first as Zack Drayer hit Daniel Adams with a 24-yard pass and a 7-0 lead less than four minutes into the game.

The Red Flash made it 14-0 with 3:12 remaining in the first quarter as Drayer hit Terrell Smith from 14 yards out.

Rafiq Douglas put the Dukes on the board with 14:01 ticking in the second quarter as he ran it in from the two yard line, making it Saint Francis 14, Duquesne 7.

The DU defense prevented SFU from making it a two touchdown lead again as Josh Jordan intercepted a pass in the end zone with 10:02 to go in the half.

The Red and Blue then cut the deficit to 14-10 with an Austin Crimmins 25-yard field with 1:54 left in the half. On the ensuing SFU possession, DU forced a punt while using two timeouts to get the ball back with 39 seconds remaining in the half.

Quarterback Dillon Buechel then went deep to Wayne Capers for a 62-yard touchdown strike with 30 seconds left, giving DU a 16-14 halftime lead after a missed point after attempt.

In the third quarter, the Dukes picked up where they left off in the first half, keeping the Red Flash off the scoreboard and extending their lead to 23-14 as Douglas found paydirt again, this time from three yards out to make it 23-14 with 45 seconds remaining in the third quarter. The 16-play, 98 yard drive was highlighted by a 44 yard pass from Buechel to King on third and 20 from their own 26.

Duquesne opened the fourth quarter scoring as well as Douglas scored his third touchdown of the game, running it in from the six yard line to make it 30-14 with 10:53 remaining in the game.

Saint Francis answered quickly though, as Drayer ran it in from the one-yard line to make the score 30-20. The play was set up by a 53-yard pass from Drayer to Adams to the Duquesne one yard line. Armstead Williams sacked Drayer on the two-point conversion attempt to keep the score, Duquesne 30, Saint Francis 20 with 10:02 to go in the game.

The final five drives of the game for both teams were fruitless as Duquesne punted it away with 6:32 left, Roberts intercepted a Drayer pass with 6:13 remaining, Luke Weiss recovered a Duquesne fumble with 3:45 to go and Nelson picked off a Drayer pass with 1:35 remaining before Buechel took three consecutive knees to seal the victory.

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