Photo by Mark McDonald
With a 50-0 thrashing of Valparaiso and a San Diego loss, Drake is back in the hunt for the Pioneer Football League title.
The Bulldogs scored 44 points in the first half as senior quarterback Mike Piatkowski tossed a career-high four touchdown passes. The Drake defense held the Crusaders to just 125 total yards in Saturday’s game at Drake Stadium.
Piatkowski was 16 of 23 through the air for 214 yards. He threw his scoring passes to four different receivers.
“I think we had a lot to do with how it went today,” head coach Chris Creighton said. “No matter who we’re playing, we need to come out and play like we’re capable, and I think we did that.”
The Bulldogs moved to 6-2 on the season and 4-1 in the PFL. Drake’s lone conference loss was a 31-24 setback at San Diego last week, and it appeared the team’s conference title aspirations were in jeopardy.
But San Diego lost 48-24 to Campbell on Saturday for its first PFL loss. Now Drake is tied with the Toreros for second place. Both teams trail Jacksonville, which is 5-0 in the PFL after a 56-13 victory over Davidson on Saturday. The Bulldogs take on Jacksonville at Drake Stadium on Nov. 5.
Valparaiso fell to 0-7 overall and 0-4 in the PFL. The Drake defense forced two interceptions on the day.
“It’s one (game) at a time, but the challenge is not over,” Creighton said.
Drake junior running back Trey Morse led the rushing attack with 60 yards on 16 carries. He scored his fourth touchdown of the season on a 5-yard run in the second quarter to put the Bulldogs up 14-0.
Junior Nick Rosa and sophomore Jacob Dines led Drake with four receptions each. Each also scored his first career touchdown. Rosa scored on a 3-yard touchdown reception in the Bulldogs’ opening possession. Dines scored from 14 yards out in the second quarter to push the Drake lead to 42-0.
“I feel like as a team, offensively, we’re seeing the field well, getting in the right plays,” Piatkowski said. “The defense is doing a great job getting the ball and shutting down their offense.”
Junior linebacker Jake Underwood secured one of the Bulldogs interceptions in the second quarter and raced 65 yards into the end zone. It was the Drake defense’s first interception return for a touchdown since last season’s game at home against San Diego.
“It was a great feeling,” Underwood said. “Any time the defense can score, it definitely gets the team going. It fires up the team.”
Piatkowski connected with senior Nathan Paddock for a 19-yard score and junior tight end Kevin Marshall for a 15-yard touchdown for his other two scoring passes.
Senior linebacker Tyler Moorehead recorded a team-high eight tackles and added his second interception of the season. Junior defensive end Brandon Coleman contributed one sack to push his season total to 9.5 sacks. He came into the game tied for fifth in sacks in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision.
Drake travels to Marist next Saturday. It’s the Bulldogs’ third road game in four weeks. The squad returns home to take on first-place Jacksonville and then closes out the season by hosting Dayton on Nov. 12.
“We still have to win these next three games,” Piatkowski said. “It’s on us.”