The first safety swung the momentum in Duquesne's favor. The second helped break the game open.
The Dukes took points any way they could in their 21-point third quarter that made the difference Saturday night in a 21-20 win against Robert Morris at Joe Walton Stadium.
First it was a safety, followed by a field goal. Then Dillon Buechel hit Gianni Carter for a 10-yard touchdown on the first play after the Dukes got a strip-sack of Colonials quarterback Paul Jones, who played at Sto-Rox High School and transferred from Penn State.
Later, when Jones and Ryan Thermil muffed a handoff attempt near their goal line, Robert Morris fell on the ball in the end zone for another safety.
And after the safety kickoff, Duquesne went eight plays and 54 yards for another touchdown, this time with Buechel connecting with Devin Rahming for a 26-yard score.
"I thought it was a crazy game all the way around," Duquesne coach Jerry Schmitt said. "A lot of momentum swings and turnovers, it could've went either way the whole game. That's what this rivalry is about."
In all, the Dukes scored five times in the third quarter. And they needed every last point.
Rallying around an injury to safety Andy Smigiera, who was taken off the field in an ambulance in the third quarter, Robert Morris came back with two touchdowns in the fourth.
Running back Deontae Howard, a former Clairton standout, made it a one-possession game, scoring from 1 yard out with 11:45 to play.
Then with 4:43 to go, Jones bullied his way into the end zone on a 1-yard sneak to make it 21-20.
Robert Morris, however, missed the extra point.
Jones and the Colonials offense got the ball back on their 41 with 3:01 left but couldn't get into field-goal range.
They stopped Duquesne on its next possession and took over on the Robert Morris 33 with 54 seconds remaining. Jones completed a pass over the middle but his receiver tried a lateral, which was recovered by Duquesne.
Buechel, a redshirt freshman out of Montour High School, completed 23 of 41 passes for 202 yards, two touchdowns and an interception for Duquesne (4-2, 2-0 Northeast Conference).
Jones finished with 100 yards passing and 41 rushing for Robert Morris (2-4, 0-1).
Smigiera was hit with a block he never saw coming on Duquesne's final touchdown play. He appeared to be moving his extremities before he was lifted onto a stretcher.
Robert Morris coaches were furious with officials, but there was no penalty on the play.
"The officials didn't feel as if there was any intent, [but] from where we were standing, obviously we didn't see it the same way they did," coach Joe Walton said.
"Our guys battled back, and that's a good sign. We really let the game get away from us in the third quarter. We came out flat in the second half, and a few miscues on special teams really hurt us."
Duquesne now leads the all-time series against Robert Morris, 8-7, dating to 1994.
Nick Veronica: firstname.lastname@example.org and Twitter @NickVeronica. First Published October 19, 2013 8:00 PM