PITTSBURGH — Julius Chestnut had 173 yards rushing, including a 6-yard touchdown run, Marquez McCray hit Nasheim Brantley for a 29-yard touchdown in overtime, and Sacred Heart held on to beat Duquesne 34-27 on Sunday to win the first-ever Northeast Conference championship game and earn a berth into the FCS playoffs.
McCray finished 15-of-23 passing for 180 yards and two touchdowns. Brantley had four receptions for 74 yards and hit Garrett Lynn for a 6-yard touchdown on a reverse pass to open the scoring in the first quarter.
On the first series of OT, Duquesne’s AJ Garson sacked McCray on a third-down play but on fourth-and-14 from the 29 McCray hit Nasheim Brantley for a touchdown and Noah Gettman’s extra point made it 34-27. The Dukes (4-1, 4-1) then had a first-and-goal from the 3 but Omar Frazier forced a fumble by Dukes quarterback Joe Mischler that was recovered by Sacred Heart’s Frank Alfano in the end zone to seal it.
Sacred Heart (3-1, 3-1) missed a PAT attempt in the first quarter and failed to convert a 2-point try in the second.
Mischler completed 23 of 40 passes for 335 yards and three touchdowns, Billy Lucas had 22 carries for 110 yards and a score, and Cyrus Holder had eight receptions for 131 yards and a touchdown for Duquesne. Joey Isabella added six catches for 76 and two scores.
Duquesne, ranked No. 25 in the STATS FCS poll, took over at its own 2 with about 6 minutes to play in regulation and Mischler completed passes of 25 yards to Holder and 30 yards to Davie Henderson before hitting Isabella for a 35-yard touchdown that made it 27-all with 4:18 to play and, eventually, forced overtime.
The Duquesne beat the Pioneers 30-27 in the season opener on March 7.