There were tears to be expected, but if there were, they were of joy, as Drake closed out the 2010 football season with a 10-7 victory over Butler last Saturday at Drake Stadium. It was a sloppy game, mostly due to the weather. On a cold, windy day, leadership and smart play mattered the most, and the Drake Bulldogs had both in abundance.
Drake finished the season in third place of the Pioneer Football League, with a 7-4 overall record and 6-2 in league play.
After a Butler missed field goal in the first quarter, Drake, behind sophomore backup-quarterback Cody Seeger, drove down and senior kicker Billy Janssen nailed a 23-yard field goal to give Drake a lead that it would not relinquish.
Butler drove deep into Drake territory several times, but each time it committed a costly turnover. It began when sophomore Michael Ratelle intercepted Butler’s Andrew Huck in the end zone, one of four turnovers committed by Butler in the first half.
The first touchdown of the game wasn’t scored until there was 2:57 remaining in the third quarter, when senior Tom Kostek scored from 4 yards out to make it a 10-0 game.
Butler finally got on the board late in the fourth with a Zach Watkins touchdown reception from 22 yards away with 2:22 left in the game. After the ensuing onside kick failed, Drake ran the ball to move the clock to under a minute before Butler got the ball back. Defensive end Dain Taylor made the final sack of his Drake career and then Ratelle sealed the victory with his second interception of the game.
It wasn’t the cleanest game, but in the end, it was only fitting that the eight seniors all made an impact during their final game wearing the blue and white.
“It all flies way too fast, but I cannot regret a single minute of the game,” Steve Platek, a two-time first-team All-PFL running back, said.
Looking back on the third-place season, it is easy to be bitter about all the close games, but not for this team.
“All in all, it was a successful season,” said Janssen, the punter competing in his first season of Drake football. “We finished third and won six games in conference.”
For the seniors, it was tough to lose so many close games. Co-conference champions Dayton and Jacksonville barely survived the Bulldogs. Dayton escaped with a last-second touchdown while Jacksonville held on after a furious Drake rally to win by five.
Drake will return to action in May, when it will become the first team ever to play an American football game in Africa.
Photo: Connor McCourtney