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The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

The Oldest College Newspaper in Pennsylvania

The Lafayette

Football falls to No. 21 Duke for first loss of season

Sophomore quarterback Dean DeNobile throws the ball against Duke. (Photo by Rick Smith for GoLeopards)

Coming off of a hard-fought win against Sacred Heart the previous week, the Leopards found themselves in a David versus Goliath matchup against the No. 21 ranked Duke Blue Devils. In the group’s first test against an AP Top-25 ranked team in over a decade, the Maroon and White fell to the Power 5 opponent in a 42-7 blowout on Saturday.

Duke arrived to the stadium fresh off a win against 9th ranked Clemson just five days prior. According to junior defensive back Gabe DuBois, Duke’s stature didn’t deter the Leopards from stepping up to the challenge.

“The team’s mentality was that if we all went out and did our jobs going one hundred percent, then we could compete with anybody,” DuBois wrote in an email.

The Blue Devils stormed down the field in their first offensive possession, capping off an eight-play, 68-yard drive with a 19-yard touchdown pass.

Lafayette’s offense took the field shortly after, with sophomore quarterback Dean DeNobile getting his first collegiate start under center. The Leopards turned heads with a scoring drive that lasted over seven minutes, driving 75 yards down the field against an imposing Duke defense.

DeNobile completed five passes for 42 yards on the drive, including the first touchdown of his collegiate career when he found junior wide receiver Chris Carasia for a 12-yard strike. Sophomore running back Jamar Curtis, who rushed for 181 yards in the season opener versus Sacred Heart, also added 24 yards to the drive.

The defensive play of the game for Lafayette happened on the first play of the next drive, when DuBois stripped the ball from Duke running back Jordan Waters, giving the Leopards possession near midfield. 

DuBois wrote that the turnover “felt good.”

I’ve been thinking about making some big plays in that game for a while now,” he wrote.

Despite the strong first quarter showing from the Leopards where they were able to keep the game tied 7-7, they never managed to build on their momentum. In the drive immediately after the DuBois fumble recovery, Lafayette’s offense went three-and-out and was forced to punt back to the Blue Devils, who took complete control of the game from there.

After Duke ripped off two quick rushing touchdowns on back-to-back possessions, a DeNobile interception in Duke territory sent the Leopards headed back to the locker room trailing 21-7 at halftime. Head coach John Troxell said that it was hard for Lafayette to recover at this point.

“I think heading into halftime, our drive was completely lost,” Troxell said. “A couple of breaks like that while playing a great team can really sway the momentum away.”

The Leopards defense allowed three second-half touchdowns and the offense failed to move the ball past midfield for the rest of the game.

“I think there were points in time where we let momentum and things that were out of our control affect our mindset as a team,” Troxell said. “We can’t let that happen in the future.”

Despite the 35 point loss, DuBois said that he and the rest of the team see the game as a learning experience. 

“We’re taking the lessons from last week’s loss to make us better, which I feel can benefit us,” DuBois wrote. “This week we’ll be getting back on track, trying to put it all together.”

The Leopards will look to notch a win on Saturday when they return to Fisher Stadium to take on the Columbia Lions in their home opener. Troxell sees Saturday, as well as the rest of the home schedule, as a major opportunity for the team.

“You have to defend your home turf,” Troxell said. “We haven’t had a winning season here since 2009. If we can defend our home field, that alone would end the drought and put us in contention for the Patriot League championship.”

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About the Contributor
Dan Sullivan
Dan Sullivan, Staff Sports Writer

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  • D

    Daniel TeodorescuSep 15, 2023 at 11:42 am

    Very Nice!