MARYVILLE, Tenn. -- For the eighth straight season, the Christopher Newport University football team opened the USA South portion of the schedule with a win. The Captains (2-2, 1-0) held off the Maryville College Scots (1-3, 0-1) for a 45-31 victory on the road, led by a three-score day by freshman running back Paul Dukes.
The freshman from Norfolk, Va. broke out in a big way in Saturday's game, rushing for three touchdowns and 92 total yards on 13 carries. He also picked up an average of 29.5 yards on four kick returns. He finished the day with over 200 yards of all-purpose yards. It was the 15th time in program history an individual rushed for three touchdowns in a single game.
"To have over 200 yards of offense, he was definitely a spark," said head coach Matt Kelchner. "But we still haven't put together a full game yet. We did some nice things, forcing turnovers on defense - we put in a lot of work on that - but we still have a long way to go."
Christopher Newport used a balanced rushing attack to build a two-touchdown first half lead, and then held on in the second half for the win. Five different players carried the ball for CNU, a total of 43 times, compiling 240 yards on the ground. The Captains had just one rushing touchdown in the first three games before punching in five against the Scots.
Tyler Portell sparked an early touchdown drive by the Captains when he picked off the Maryville quarterback, Evan Pittenger, at the Maryville 35-yard line. With the short field, CNU handed the ball to Dukes for a 10-yard run, and then to junior running back Markeese Stovall on four successive plays capped by a 9-yard scamper into the end zone.
Maryville answered on the following drive to pull even at 7 on a 14-yard touchdown pass by Eric Sisson to Travis Felder. On the ensuing kickoff, Dukes nearly broke free for a kickoff return touchdown, but was wrestled down at the CNU 49-yard line after a 35-yard return. The solid field position again benefited the Captains offense, as the team drove down the field in nine plays, setting up a 31-yard field goal by Mason Studer.
Again the Scots responded, with a 24-yard field goal by Dylan Miller, to tie things at 10. In the final eight minutes of the second quarter, though, CNU created some distance offensively. Dukes scored on a 17-yard run with 2:28 remaining and on the following kickoff, Chad Cieslewicz forced a momentum-shifting fumble to give CNU one more possession before halftime. The Captains converted, with a 13-yard touchdown strike from Aaron Edwards to Rudy Rudolph as CNU took a 24-10 lead at the break.
Maryville was unable to close to closer than seven the rest of the game, as CNU responded to each Scots touchdown. The defense continued to make big plays, grabbing three interceptions in the game. CNU now has seven picks in the last two games.
Dukes continued to pace the Captains rushing attack, adding 1- and 24-yard rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Between those two scores, Marcus Morrast added a 28-yard sprint to the end zone for his first score of the year. Dukes finished the game with 92 yards on 13 carries, Morrast with 74 yards on 13 carries and Stovall added 47 yards on 10 attempts.
Defensively, Tyshawn Harris led the way, with 11 tackles and one interception. Cieslewicz added 10 tackles while Daniel Lewis and Portell each had interceptions in the game.
CNU will now return home for a big conference matchup against Ferrum College next Saturday at 7:00 pm.
"It'll be nice to get back home to POMOCO next week -- looking forward to a nice crowd," Kelchner said.
The game is a WHITE OUT and fans are encouraged to wear all white in support of the Captains on Family Weekend.