STORY BY AUSTIN CANNON
The Bulldogs will have to wait until the 2016 season for another chance to claim their first Pioneer Football League title since 2012.
The loss to Morehead State and wins by Dayton and San Diego mathematically eliminated Drake in the quest for the PFL’s automatic qualifying spot in the FCS playoffs.
The Bulldogs’ chances were already slim. Even if they were to win out they would’ve needed a lot of help from the rest of the PFL.
The loss to MSU extinguished the faint flame.
With the Drake loss, MSU, San Diego and Dayton would all have to lose their last three games if the Bulldogs were to have a chance of winning the PFL. However, MSU and Dayton will play each other on Saturday and, because there are no ties in college football, one team will win to give it a guaranteed finish above Drake.
The Season Ahead
Two games remain on Drake’s 2015 schedule: a trip to Indianapolis to play Butler before Dayton comes to Des Moines for the finale.
Drake coach Rick Fox said his team would be ready for both games, especially against the undefeated Flyers.
“There’s nobody I would rather finish the season with,” Fox said. “(We) get the chance to beat those guys because they are our rival and we will show up and play … Our guys don’t need the external motivation. They love playing the game. That’s the kind of guys they are.”
Drake fell to 0-5 on the road, a mirror of their 4-0 undefeated record at Drake Stadium. For now, the only thing to do is look ahead.
“Got to keep pushing forward,” tight end Eric Saubert said.
Rice Plays With Heart
Andy Rice hit both the highest and the lowest moments a quarterback can experience in a single game.
His final minute touchdown pass tied the game to send it to overtime, but another potential touchdown pass was intercepted in the first overtime.
Rice still had a clutch 5-yard touchdown pass to Saubert on a do-or-die fourth-down play in the second overtime to re-tie the game that seemingly wouldn’t end.
According to Fox, Rice sustained a stinger to his throwing arm after taking a hit in the third overtime. Two plays later, his pass intended for Saubert was picked off to set up MSU’s winning field goal.
Despite Rice’s up-and-down day, his on-field exploits weren’t what his coach took away from Saturday.
“The thing that really stands out to me the most, and it’s what you saw today, is how he plays with his heart so much,” Fox said. “He just gives himself completely to this team. You saw that in the way he was just putting himself out there today.”
Drake is off this week. The Bulldogs will travel to play the other Bulldogs of the PFL, Butler, on Nov. 14. Kickoff in Indianapolis is set for noon EST.