Dukes finish off excellent football season with 20-20 tie

Posted by Jeremy Tepper on 10/19/2023

As Duquesne City coach John Mahone gathered his team together for a post-game talk, his voice swelled with pride.

“We put our name on the map,” Mahone said. “Trust me.”

At that moment, his team was a little down. They had tied 20-20 with Montour in their last game of the season. It was the Dukes’ first non-win, having finished the season 6-0-1.

But Mahone was still satisfied. Satisfied with the growth his team had shown throughout the season, and satisfied with what the Dukes are building. In their first two seasons since returning from a ten-year hiatus, the Dukes have gone 13-0-2.

And although their final game had its ups and downs, the Dukes embodied the city’s perseverance, fighting tooth and nail with Montour until the last second. 

“I’m proud of the guys. They left 110 percent on the field,” Mahone said. “We’ll grow from this and hopefully next season we’ll accomplish that undefeated season.”

Wednesday’s game offered something that the Dukes hadn’t experienced all season: down to the wire competition. Montour was hungry to knock off the Dukes. They trailed just 8-6 at halftime. But when Duquesne City running back Jarelle Mason torched its defense with a 96 yard touchdown run to close the 3rd quarter, it seemed that the Dukes were starting to take control.

Montour, though, tied the game right after with a kick return touchdown and a two-point conversion. Afterwards, they took a 20-14 lead with 2:42 left in the 4th quarter

“This was our toughest game this year. We played a good ballclub, a well-coached team,” Mahone said. “But we came back and fought through adversity.”

With their backs against the wall, the Dukes fought back. They furiously marched down the field, and Mason capped the drive off with a 30 yard touchdown run to send the game to overtime. In a one-minute overtime, neither team was able to score, though Mason nearly executed a buzzer-beating touchdown, manipulating and fighting through defenders before being wrapped up by a host of Montour players.

“He showed great leadership this season,” Mahone said of Mason. “At times, he put the team on his back, carrying us when we needed him to.”

Mahone will be sad to see his 8th graders go, but excited to see what they accomplish in high school. The Dukes are building up a pipeline of talented athletes, exemplified recently by Armand Hill, who received a football scholarship offer from UNLV. Hill, now at West Mifflin, played at Duquesne last season.

His emergence as a freshman has been a revelation for the Titans, but its no surprise to Mahone and his coaching staff. They know that Duquesne City is filled with talented, hungry athletes. And as Mahone preached with his “we put our name on the map” message, the rest of Western Pennsylvania is starting to notice, too.

“I think they feed off that. The kids that played last year, they see what they’re doing as freshmen, and that gives them confidence,” Mahone said.

“Every year, we don’t rebuild, we reload because there’s so much talent.”