In a game where defense was the prevailing factor, Drake held off a late rally from Valparaiso and won 21-19 to begin its Pioneer Football League season. The Bulldogs held Valparaiso to 158 yards offensively and forced two turnovers in the contest.
After David Witkiewicz returned an interception to start off the second half, it seemed like Drake would cruise to victory, considering how tough the defense was playing. However, Drake turnovers combined with 10 penalties allowed Valparaiso to chip into the lead in the fourth quarter.
“Defensively we played pretty good,” Head Coach Chris Creighton said in a Drake athletics press release. “But our offense in the second half didn’t help our defense like we needed to do.”
It was a tale of two halves for the Bulldogs and, more specifically, for redshirt freshman Cody Seeger, who made his first collegiate start at quarterback. The first half was much kinder to him and the Bulldogs than the second half was.
On the third play of the game, senior defensive end Dain Taylor recovered a fumble. Following the recovery, Seeger came onto the field and led the team to a 10-play, 42-yard drive that was capped off by a 16-yard touchdown run by Pat Cashmore.
After a touchdown to start the second, the Valparaiso offense was held to seven yards throughout the rest of the quarter. It was in the second quarter when Seeger led a brilliant drive in which he converted a long third down by scrambling for 15 yards, and then finishing off the drive with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Steve Platek. Unfortunately, things stalled for the Drake offense after that.
Despite great starting field position for the Bulldogs throughout the third and fourth quarters, the offense could not take advantage, and turned the ball over. A holding penalty by Troy Whitmer negated a 33-yard touchdown run by Trey Morse. All these plays prevented Drake from getting things going offensively. The Bulldogs were held to just 19 yards in the second half.
“If we don’t commit those penalties, we probably have a different offense in the second half,” Creighton said.
In the fourth quarter, two costly turnovers by Seeger allowed Valparaiso to get back into the game. However, with the game on the line, the Bulldog defense shut the door on Valparaiso and with one minute and 49 seconds left in the game, ran out the clock.
Seeger managed the game well, despite two turnovers. He threw his first touchdown pass and had 50 yards rushing on the day.
His favorite target was freshman tight end Dan Hohenstein, who led the team with five receptions for 30 yards.
Linebackers Ben Morrison and Tyler Moorehead led the Bulldog defense with nine and eight tackles, respectively.
“It is college football and my hats off to Valparaiso,” Creighton said. “They definitely came to play. They have a young team, are well coached and fought hard, giving themselves a chance to win the game.”
Drake returns home this Saturday when it takes on Marist at 1 p.m.
Photo: File Photo