No. 20 IUP beats Mercyhurst behind RB Tuck's 231 yards
Indiana (Pa.) senior Harvie Tuck and Mercyhurst redshirt freshman Brandon Brown-Dukes wear No. 24 and bear demanding workloads as star running backs.
Showcased on the same field Saturday, Tuck and Brown-Dukes upheld their reputations as the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference West Division's elite ball carriers. The senior simply stood out a little more.
A 231-yard, two-touchdown day for Tuck helped the No. 20 Crimson Hawks (7-1, 4-1) pull away from Mercyhurst (6-2, 4-1) with 24 unanswered points to win, 31-13, at George P. Miller Stadium.
“He's a good north-south runner,” IUP coach Curt Cignetti said of Tuck. “He's 215 pounds. He has a really good line, and the tight ends did a great job as well as the fullbacks. ... This kind of offense, he's suited for.”
Tuck, who had 30 carries, cracked the 200-yard mark for the fourth time this season. His performance also potentially made him Division II's leading rusher — prior to Saturday, Tuck ranked second in the country with a 167.7-yards-per-game average.
Brown-Dukes became just the fourth player in Mercyhurst history to reach 1,000 yards with his 134-yard performance, which came on 30 carries.
Brown-Dukes scored the game's first touchdown and excelled where so many running backs failed against the Crimson Hawks' defense, which allowed just two previous opponents to rush for 50 yards. Through one quarter, Brown-Dukes had 15 carries for 102 yards.
By the second quarter, IUP began to contain Brown-Dukes, who went to the locker room at halftime with 103 yards.
“I feel like they rushed downhill a lot faster and were anticipating the run a lot more,” Brown-Dukes said. “They did a good job of coming downhill and filling the holes with their linebackers.”
Tuck, who gained 77 yards on 16 carries through two quarters, set the tone for the second half during IUP's first two plays, as he rumbled off the left side for 18 yards and then added 9 more on a run up the middle.
A 42-yard touchdown pass from Mike Box to Terrill Barnes capped that drive and put IUP ahead, 14-13.
“(Cignetti) told us to keep working, keep our composure,” Tuck said. “We didn't have the best (first) half, but he encouraged us to keep working hard and just let us know that everything would be cool.”
IUP broke two more big gains early in the fourth as Tuck had a 40-yard jaunt and De'Antwan Williams followed with a 40-yard touchdown run.
Tuck scored his second touchdown from 20 yards out late in the fourth.
The Crimson Hawks finished with 290 yards rushing and 416 yards.
“We felt we needed to be able to run the football and match what they were doing,” Mercyhurst coach Marty Schaetzle said. “We kind of run similar styles and live on the same thing. IUP did it better than we did today, and they kind of took us out of our game.”
Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 724-543-1303.