BY JD PELEGRINO
The Bulldogs took the week seven bye-week to regroup for the final five games of the season. Before Drake’s bye-week, they lost a tightly contested game against Dayton at home. The Dogs traveled to Poughkeepsie, New York in week eight to collect a 19-14 win against Marist.
Drake, after the bye, turned it around and was able to get back to their game. Quarterback Grant Kraemer completed 12 of 19 passes for 144 yards with zero touchdowns and zero interceptions. Two weeks ago, Kraemer also completed 12 passes but with 40 attempts. Kraemer went down in the third quarter with a knee injury and is questionable for this week. More information about the injury will be available later this week.
Long snapper Dustin Anthony remains hopeful that Kraemer will be able to return to the field this as soon as possible.
“He took a shot as he was scrambling, hurt his knee,” Anthony said. “We don’t know how bad it is right now, he was walking on it.”
Second-string quarterback Sam Hefner stepped in after the injury and finished the remainder of the game completing 8 of 14 pass attempts for 94 yards.
The Drake running backs, once again this season, had a strong presence against Marist. Tyler Updegraff rushed 15 times for 65 yards and Brock Reichardt ran 17 times for 34 yards and the offense’s only touchdown of the game. Running back Drew Lauer had 10 carries for two yards in his first game back this season from injury, according to Anthony.
“Danny was the PFL Special Teams Player of the Week, he went out there and made every kick he took count,” said Anthony. “He showed he’s a force to be reckoned with.”
Kicker Danny Donley executed four field goals in the win (season high) and an extra point. Donley came up big for the Bulldogs accounting for 13 of the Bulldogs’ 19 points. The team counts on Donley every week to do exactly as he did against Marist.
On the other side of the ball, the Bulldogs defense has been learning and growing every game this season. Drake’s defense has blocked a few field goals this season, caused and recovered fumbles, intercepted the ball and pushed opposing offenses back by sacking quarterbacks.
Defensive back Sean Lynch had not one but two interceptions against Marist. Lynch was named PFL Defensive Player of the Week for his game-changing play. Without the two turnovers forced by Lynch, the game could have gone either way.
“Playing and beating [Marist] was big,” said Anthony. “We play San Diego in two weeks, and that’s essentially our conference championship, even though we are seeing every game as the conference championship.”
The remaining five games for the Bulldogs are “must wins,” because one loss could propel another team too far out of reach within the conference.
The Bulldogs currently sit at an uneasy 4-3 and in third place in the PFL. However, they remain in contention with only one game out of first place. The two teams ahead in conference play for the Bulldogs are San Diego (5-2) and Campbell (5-3). This puts the Bulldogs in a vulnerable position for the rest of the season, as one more loss could cost a conference championship. But every win means moving up a spot in the standings.
This week, Drake (4-3) hosts Davidson (2-5). Davidson is 0-4 against teams in the PFL and is waiting in the bushes to collect their first conference win, setting up what is sometimes called a trap game – so the Bulldogs can not let their guards down.
The Bulldogs have only one conference loss this season, coming from Dayton in week six. Every game from here on out is a “must win” for Drake.