Drake running back Drew Lauer produces 136 rushing yards and 2 touchdowns
BY JD PELEGRINO
The Bulldogs traveled to Dayton, Ohio for the team’s sixth game of the season against the Dayton Flyers. The game was played under clear conditions, sun out, and 48 degrees. Dayton entered the game two games worse than the Bulldogs with a record of 3-4 (2-2). Drake headed to Dayton coming off of a 3-point loss to Stetson last week at home and were 3-2 (2-1). The Bulldogs defense ranked first in points allowed this season entering the matchup forfeiting only 98 points to opposing teams. In conference play, they have only let up 38. Both of these numbers led the PFL prior to Saturday’s games.
The Flyers started the contest on offense, but punted the ball after 5 plays. The Bulldogs went to work on their own 2-yard line, but after 2 plays and 28 seconds, the Flyer defense intercepted Drake quarterback Grant Kraemer. The Flyers scored on a 1-yard rush after the interception for the game’s first score.
“We knew we were probably going to make mistakes in the game, obviously there was the 1 interception really early that gave them the ball on the 2-yard line.” Doran said. “Our coaches just told us ‘stick through it, keep fighting through adversity, keep throwing punches. You’re going to get punched back, but just keep crawling back.’ We did that really really well.”
After the Flyers kickoff, Kraemer and the offense started their second drive of the game on their own 31-yard line. The offense pushed the ball 69 yards in 5 plays, responding with a touchdown of their own. Drake running back Drew Lauer scored the Bulldogs first touchdown of the day on a 2-yard rush, tying the game up 7-7 (PAT by Danny Donley)
After a Dayton turnover on downs and a couple of punts back and forth, the next score of the game came from Dayton kicker Joseph Bruni on a 22-yard field goal to give the Flyers the 3-point lead 10-7.
Once again, the Drake offense responded to the field goal conversion by Bruni, converting on the next drive with a touchdown. Wide receiver Steven Doran finished the 10-play 75-yard drive with a 6-yard touchdown catch from Kraemer. This marks Kraemer’s and Doran’s first touchdown of the game.
The last drive of the first-half ended with a bit of confusion to the Dayton coaching staff, Dayton players and even the announcers: the Bulldogs had possession of the ball, Kraemer hit Doran for a first down across the middle of the field, and the Dayton defense held Doran up to send the game to halftime. The referees of the game announced that a Drake timeout was called by head coach Rick Fox with one second left giving the Bulldogs an opportunity 40 yards out from the end zone to score. Kraemer stayed on the field to launch a deep pass, but threw the ball out of the back of the end zone, sending the game to halftime.
At the end of the first-half, the Bulldogs led Dayton 14-10. Drake was set to receive the ball for the start of the second-half, but after 4 plays and 14 yards, punter Ross Kennedy sent the ball to Dayton. The Dayton offense couldn’t get much going either, returning the ball to the Bulldogs after 3 plays for 9 yards.
The leading Bulldogs went to work on their own 23-yard line. Kraemer and the offense took things slow, converting on each third-down of the drive into another opportunity. The Drake drive ate up 6 minutes and 22 seconds, the longest drive by either team of the whole game. However, the 13-play 77-yard drive concluded with yet another Doran touchdown. The was Kraemer and Doran’s second connection of the day. “They were really worried about our pass game,” Doran said.
After exchanging punts, two Dayton drives later, the Bulldogs defense came up big, doing what they have done all season by executing another takeaway. The Bulldogs defense recovered a fumble on Dayton 12-yard line. Drake RB Lauer scored on the first and only play of the drive: Lauer took the ball into the end zone on a 12-yard rush (PAT by Donley) to add to the Bulldogs lead 28-10.
The game still had 14 minutes for Dayton to come back. The Flyers offense marched down the field in 9 plays to score on a 77-yard drive. Flyers quarterback Jack Cook capitalized on the drive with a 2-yard TD of his own (PAT by Bruni), cutting into the Dayton deficit 28-17.
The next drive, owned by the Bulldogs, went 74 yards ending with a Kraemer rush of near 50 yards. At the very end of the run, a Dayton defender flew at Kraemer from behind knocking the ball out of Kraemer’s possession and recovered by Dayton on their own 1-yard line. With six minutes left in the game, the Flyers had a long road ahead of them.
On the next drive, the Flyers were unsuccessful converting on fourth down, due to the lock down defense of cornerback Jabari Butler. With four minutes and 30 seconds left, ball on the Dayton 33-yard line, running the clock out would be in the Bulldogs favor. Instead, Kraemer dropped back and threw the ball, but was intercepted. This presented another opportunity for the Flyers.
Cook and the Flyers offense marched down the field, but around to 50-yard line were confronted with a fourth-and-medium situation. Cook stepped up in the pocket and tucked it to run for the first down, defensive end Erin Morgan tracked Cook down from behind stopping him 1-yard short of the first down, awarding the ball back to Kraemer and the Drake offense. Morgan’s tackle on Cook ultimately secured the Bulldogs win.
Offensive leaders for the Bulldogs on Saturday were: Kraemer who went 21 for 33 for 217 yards, 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. WR Doran led all receivers being targeted 10 times by Kraemer, hauling in 6 catches for 93 yards and 2 touchdowns. As for the Drake run game, this was their most efficient outing of the season. RB Lauer led Drake on the ground on 28 attempts for 136 yards and 2 touchdowns.
“Sometimes, [Dayton] was more concerned about our pass game, so they would drop eight and that would only leave three defenders,” Doran said. “Drew Lauer just played out of his mind. There were plenty of moments where I saw him get contacted and he got a lot of yards after contact.”
The Bulldogs redeemed themselves from the Stetson loss two weeks ago, with another conference win. Drake is now 4-2 overall and 3-1 in conference play. On Saturday, Oct. 27 the Bulldogs will head to Valparaiso, Ind to take on PFL rivals Valparaiso (1-6, 1-3). The game starts at 1 p.m.