In a battle of Pioneer Football League unbeatens, Drake’s comeback effort came up just short in a gut-wrenching loss to Jacksonville, 39-34. Drake got the ball back with just over 2 1/2 minutes left and a chance to win the game, but it could not capitalize.
Jacksonville safety Lacy McDougald intercepted junior quarterback Mike Piatkowski at midfield, which ended the threat and sealed a loss for the Bulldogs.
After trailing 30-7 at halftime, Drake came out with guns blazing in the second half and put in a valiant effort. Piatkowski threw for 296 yards with two touchdown passes, and ran for another score. He also eclipsed the 3,000 passing yards mark for his career.
“We came back,” said Head Coach Chris Creighton said in a Drake press release. “We fought hard.”
Fought hard Drake did, outscoring Jacksonville 27-9 in the second half. Despite being without the services of two-time, first-team all-PFL running back Steve Platek, the Bulldogs managed to score two touchdowns on their first two possessions of the second half.
Drake racked up 238 yards of total offense in the second half.
One of the biggest contributors for the Bulldogs was junior receiver Drew Blackmon, who exploded for 158 yards on only nine catches. He also had a touchdown.
Drake’s defense turned up the pressure on Jacksonville quarterback Josh McGregor, who was ranked fourth in the nation in passer efficiency coming into the game. The Bulldogs sacked him four times. They also forced him into throwing three interceptions.
Drake heads to Buies Creek, N.C., Saturday to take on Campbell at noon. They return home to take on Davidson on Oct. 23 at 1 p.m.
“Three minutes into the game our guys were tired, heavy-legged and played sluggish, like we were in a trance,” Creighton said. “But to their credit, despite that, they fought through it and settled down.”
Passing: Mike Piatkowski, 19-40, 296 yards, 2 TD, 3 Int
Rushing: Tom Kostek, 8 carries for 24 yards
Receiving: Drew Blackmon, 9 catches for 158 yards, 1 TD
Tackles: Tyler Moorehead, 8
Photo: Heather Boone