BY JD PELEGRINO
In a bounce-back effort from last week versus Montana, the Drake Bulldogs pounced on the Missouri S&T Miners. The Bulldogs exemplified their offensive dominance as well as defensive patience and aggression. All around, Drake played a fine game of football and consequently for the Miners, were nearly impossible to be stopped.
The Bulldogs got into an offensive rhythm from the second they walked out onto the field. The first drive of the game started out with two back-to-back one-yard rushes by running back Braeden Hartwig, followed by a 13-yard catch by the reliable WR Devin Cates on third down. The very next play, quarterback Grant Kraemer connected on a 58-yard pass to running back Drew Lauer. Lauer took the ball all the way to the end zone with nobody to beat.
“We had been working on that play ever since the start of camp,” Lauer said. “We knew we were going to run it the first down of the next series … We just went for it.”
This was the first score of the seven touchdowns throughout the game for Drake. After the Drake score, the Miners took to the field to put up seven points of their own. On the first play, defensive tackle Nathan Clayberg sacked Miner quarterback Tyler Swart for a loss of seven yards. The Miners went three-and-out and sent the rock back to the Bulldogs.
Kraemer hustled back out onto the field with his offensive unit. He called the cadence and took his regular drop back, threw the ball to an open wide receiver Mitch McFarlane, and 65 yards later, McFarlane reached the end zone. The drive contained one play and it went for a touchdown. That was the second touchdown passing for Kraemer over 50 yards at that point in the game, and from there the game began to get away from the Miners.
After forcing the Miners to punt yet again, Kraemer dropped back and launched a deep pass intended for the deep-threat WR Steven Doran, but the fall was intercepted by the Miners. Kraemer jogged off the field to the coaches awaiting him on the sideline and simply laughed it off.
This is the point where WR Devin Cates started to heat up. Cates capped the Bulldogs offensive drive with a 6-yard TD catch. This would be the first of Cates’ two touchdown grabs. This put the Bulldogs up 21-0.
The Miners responded to the next drive with a touchdown of their own. Miner RB Aaron Moya scored on a 3-yard touchdown rushing. The Miners were only able to get six points up on the board however, due to a blocked PAT courtesy of the Bulldogs’ special teams unit.
After trading a couple of punts, the Bulldogs got the ball back with 4:19 left in the second quarter. RB Lauer rushed the ball, but was met by the defense before being able to cross the line of scrimmage, losing one yard and getting tackled on the Drake 23-yard line. On second-and-11, Kraemer found Lauer through the air and the connection resulted in 73 yards receiving for the QB-RB duo. Lauer got hit and weaved his way through the defense, fighting for every yard all the way down to the Missouri S&T 5-yard line.
“I was thinking, score! I’ll admit, I was tired,” Lauer said. “They’re gonna give me some crap about not scoring, but man it was fun, it was awesome.”
Kraemer connected with Cates for the second time in the first half, scoring a 6-yard touchdown. The Miners punted the next drive and the Bulldogs ran down the clock to end the first half. The Bulldogs had the lead at the end of the first half 28-6.
The Bulldogs scored touchdowns on offense and defense in the second half. Kraemer completed a third touchdown pass 50 yards or longer going over the top for a 50-yard connection to Doran.
The next score in the game came from Kraemer’s sixth and final touchdown pass of the game on a 12-yard pass to McFarlane. Having kicker Danny Donley make all six PATs in the game, this had put the Bulldogs up 42-6 on the Miners.
After throwing his sixth touchdown pass of the game and ultimately securing the Bulldogs’ victory, head coach Rick Fox decided to pull Kraemer for the rest of the game.
Kraemer finished the game with an 87 percent completion percentage completing 14 of 16 passes for six touchdowns and one interception. This game will be hard for even Kraemer to beat moving forward in the season.
“When you have everybody as a weapon, it’s just tough to defend,” Kraemer said. “And I mean, you kind of saw that. Mitch with two touchdowns, Devin with two touchdowns, Steven a touchdown, Drew with another one.”
Kraemer boasted about the talent of his offense and how they are capable of anything. He joked about how “now [they] just have to give the tight ends some love.”
Following Kraemer’s exodus from the game, Donley nailed a 38-yard field goal to contribute three more points to the growing score. Less than one minute later, safety Will Warner intercepted the second-string QB Brennan Simms of the Miners and returned it 26 yards to the house for his second touchdown of the season.
The only touchdown the Bulldogs forfeited to the Miners was on a punt return that Miners’ Rod Chapman returned 82 yards in the closing seconds of the game to finish 52-12 Bulldogs. This is exactly what the Bulldogs were hoping for going into this week, according to Kraemer.
“It’s just a matter of us just getting some momentum going into the bye week, because we’re 0-0 right now,” Kraemer said. “This doesn’t help us get into the playoffs. We just have to be great going into conference and get ready for Jacksonville now.”
The Bulldogs will head into their bye week before taking a trip to Jacksonville (1-1) to face their first PFL game of the season. The game will be held in Jacksonville on Saturday, Sept. 29 at 12 p.m.