Duquesne gets better of Robert Morris again
Duquesne fullback Randy Morris wiped bittersweet tears from his eyes as he hugged teammates on Saturday at Arthur J. Rooney Field.
A 22-0 win over Robert Morris represented the end of the graduate student's career, and it sent him off in a satisfying manner.
Morris, a 5-foot-10, 223-pound Seneca Valley graduate who transferred to Duquesne in 2013 after three years as a walk-on at Pitt, provided punishing blocks to an offense that exceeded 200 yards rushing for just the second time this season.
Rarely a ball carrier, Morris reveled in his ability to clear the way for others in his first season as a Dukes starter.
“This was a chance to keep going until I could go out on my own note,” Morris said. “I didn't want to sit at a program where I had three coaches in three years, so I came here, where the staff has been established, and I just competed.
“It's a family here, a brotherhood. … We had a lot of adversity, a lot of injuries this year, and it could've been really easy to give up, but we came out and shut these guys out.”
Morris, who will graduate with an MBA in the spring, also visited Robert Morris and IUP after deciding to leave Pitt, but Duquesne won him over with its tight-knit team.
He's one of several WPIAL products to end up on the Bluff after time at BCS programs: Others on the Dukes' roster include redshirt freshman offensive lineman Matt Barone (Montour/Temple), junior wide receiver Wayne Capers (Chartiers Valley/Arizona), junior linebacker Armstead Williams (Gateway/Purdue) and sophomore wide receiver Chavas Rawlins (Monessen/West Virginia).
“It's good to see them grow into our family, because it's obviously different here,” Duquesne coach Jerry Schmitt said. “We don't have all the facilities and the publicity. What we fall on here is the personal touch.”
Rawlins delivered a highlight Saturday in a defense-heavy contest that featured few thrills as he pulled in a one-handed catch in the back left corner of Robert Morris' end zone for a 12-yard score with 11:06 left in the third quarter.
Rawlins' touchdown, which put Duquesne (6-6, 2-4 in the NEC) up 17-0, served as insurance for the Dukes' lockdown defense. Robert Morris (1-10, 1-5) finished with just 151 yards of offense, 88 of which came in the first half.
Duquesne claimed back-to-back wins over Robert Morris for the first time since 2006-07.
“It's great to finish this way for our seniors and really our whole team,” Schmitt said. “We probably had a full lineup standing on the sideline in street clothes today (because of injuries), so the young guys got a lot of snaps and really played well, so that bodes well for the future.”
First-year Robert Morris coach John Banaszak also had the future in mind as he addressed the shutout loss to Duquesne, a first for Robert Morris.
The setback also meant the Colonials finished with their worst record in their 21-season history.
“We haven't played very smart football, and that's on me,” Banaszak said. “I feel bad for our seniors that worked hard and aren't going to be a part of the turnaround because we are going to turn this around, no question about that.”