Story by Mike Wendlandt
For the final time in 2013, Drake stepped off Johnny Bright Field as victor, this time defeating the Dayton Flyers 36-10.
“It was a great win for us. We have a ton of respect for them,” said Drake head coach Chris Creighton said in a Drake athletics press release.
The big star was fifth-year senior Nick Rosa, who closed out his Bulldog home career with nine receptions for 185 yards and a touchdown in a resounding win.
The Bulldogs (6-4, 5-2 PFL) were expected to struggle offensively against the Flyers (6-4, 4-2), but the offense continued its growth, rolling up 518 total yards against the top defense in the PFL.
Dayton struck quickly in the first quarter, scoring just 39 seconds into the game with a 64-yard pass from Luke Johnson to Gary Hunter to give the Flyers a 7-0 lead. Drake responded midway through the first quarter with a one-yard run by junior quarterback Andy Rice.
After a Dayton field goal in the second quarter, Rice scored again from a yard out to give the Bulldogs a 14-10 lead at the intermission.
The second half was all Drake, as it rode its first half momentum to a dominating third quarter, scoring 24 points, 21 of which came within the last four-and-a-half minutes.
“Everything came together, offense, defense, special teams,” Creighton said.
It started with a 38-yard field goal by sophomore Cam Bohnert, than Drake’s offense exploded with at the 4:30 mark. Rosa caught a 92-yard bomb from Rice, followed closely by a 55-yard strike from Rice to Graham Butler.
Then, Caz Zyks got the defense into it with a one-yard fumble return to end the scoring and end Dayton’s day.
For the game, Rice completed 19-of-30 passes for 351 yards and the two touchdowns, while freshman Conley Wilkins ran for 107 yards on 19 carries. Eric Saubert added 61 yards receiving to Rosa’s explosive game.
Defensively, it was the day for the seniors, as four made impact plays in the game. Senior lineman Brandon Coleman and Kolby Knuth each had a sack, and defensive backs Michael Ratelle and Dustin Davis had interceptions to give this class a spectacular send-off. “I’m really proud of our seniors, playing their last game at Drake Stadium. It’s emotional. They’ve given five years of their lives to this program,” Creighton said.
Drake ends the regular season next week as they travel to the warm climate of San Diego to battle the Toreros. Kickoff for that game is at 3 p.m. central time.