BY JD PELEGRINO
The Drake University Bulldogs started the 2017 football season on the wrong foot in the season opener against South Dakota. The Bulldogs played in their first game of the season on Saturday, Sept. 2. The Coyotes turned out to be more of a challenge than Drake could handle.
The Coyotes scored on their first offensive drive, going up on Drake 7-0 less than two minutes into the first quarter. USD then converted seven out of eight first half possessions into touchdowns against the Bulldogs and did not let up in the second half. The Bulldogs couldn’t seem to find an answer on defense to stop the Coyotes’ momentous offense.
Starting quarterback Grant Kraemer could not get anything going with the offense either, having a tough game himself. Kraemer went 10 for 24 on pass attempts and threw for 135 yards through the air. Kraemer did not throw any touchdowns in Friday’s game but was intercepted three times. The Bulldogs lost to USD last year as well in their 7-4 season finish.
“I kind of think [a loss like this] brings us together, because you have to fight through adversity and there was definitely adversity in this game,” Kraemer said.
Kraemer expressed his enthusiasm for the team’s season after the loss. Although the game might not have ended in the Bulldogs favor, there was a great deal of good that spawned from it.
Kraemer commented on learning from week one’s anomaly moving into the season.
“We just have to learn from the film and just forget about it and know this game doesn’t matter much. We have to come back stronger and learn from our mistakes,” Kraemer said.
One of the keys to learning what to improve on is reviewing game film from each game to clarify and polish both the offense and the defense. Hopefully after film and a week of practice, the Bulldogs will be ready to play Southwestern College on Saturday at 6 p.m.
The Bulldogs’ lone score of the game came from Tyler Updegraff on a rushing touchdown four minutes into the second quarter. Updegraff took five rushing attempts for four yards in the contest. Sophomores Taylor Murph and Isaiah Skinner also got carries producing only 24 yards on 16 carries. The Bulldogs netted -1 rushing yards on Saturday against the Coyotes.
The Bulldogs threw for 148 yards in the game between three quarterbacks. Besides Kraemer, junior quarterback Sam Hefner got in the game throwing one for five and three yards. Shortly after Hefner’s offensive turn, sophomore Alex Bray got a turn. He was one for two on attempts and threw for 10 yards on his one completion.
“I think we were able to move the ball, we just had a couple of penalties that hurt us on drives and I think that affected momentum, but I think we really saw a lot of great things,” Kraemer said. The Bulldogs were punished for 11 penalties tallying up to 82 yards in the game.
It was a rusty start for the Bulldogs in week one against the University of South Dakota, but there are 10 games left including Southwestern College next week at home. The Bulldogs should have no problem turning it around and pushing further into the season against other teams.