MEDFORD - Former Tufts University football kicker Willie Holmquist was a key contributor to last night's Duke University victory in the Quick Lane Bowl.
Holmquist, who is using his final year of eligibility at Duke after a record-breaking career at Tufts, kicked three extra points and a field goal in the Blue Devil's 36-14 win over Northern Illinois University on Tuesday night. He also punted five times for a 35.4-yard average. The game was played at Ford Field in Detroit, home of the NFL's Lions.
Duke's No. 1 kicker and punter, Austin Parker, was dismissed from the team earlier this month. That put Holmquist into the starting role as Duke attempted to win its second straight bowl game for just the second time in the program's history. In Holmquist's only regular season appearance, he kicked an extra point kick in Duke's 43-20 win over Georgia Tech on Nov. 18.
With a season of eligibility available due to missing his sophomore year at Tufts with an injury, Holmquist was looking for a university with a good graduate business school and a football team willing to give a small-college kicker a shot. Duke's Fuqua School of Business is one of the best in the country. Tufts head coach Jay Civetti, who coached at the DI level prior to coming to Tufts, had a contact at Duke. The Blue Devils, members of the Atlantic Coast Conference, were looking to improve their kicking game.
A key contributor to Jumbo football's back-to-back winning seasons in 2015-16, Holmquist's 11 field goals during the 2015 season is a Tufts record. In 2016 he led the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) with a 38.5-yard punting average. He also holds the Jumbos' career record with 28 extra points.
Holmquist's success has come while managing a severe hearing loss that he was born with, which compromises his ability to communicate on the field . Though he wears a hearing aid, he takes it out for football games and instead relies on visual cues to get the job done.
"Nobody prepares with more focus than Willie Holmquist," Duke coach David Cutcliffe said to the media after the game. "To come in under those circumstances, to have to be the punter, to suddenly be the place kicker. Couldn't write a script. It's a win. It's a memory for him."