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Drake explodes in fourth, moves to 4-1 in PFL

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The Drake Bulldogs opened the second half of the Pioneer Football League season with a win over Davidson last Saturday, bringing their record to 5-3. The Bulldogs won the game by a score of 42-10, largely due to successful play after turnovers and a strong defensive line.

Senior Dain Taylor and junior Michael Lahart returned interceptions for touchdowns. Redshirt sophomore quarterback Mike Piatkowski tossed for three scores, and ran in another after a blocked field goal.

The Bulldogs led just 14-10 early in the fourth quarter, but erupted for 28 points in the final period. Davidson had minus five rushing yards on the day.

Drake moved into sole possession of third in the PFL with a 5-3 overall record and 4-1 in league play.

Action picked up at the start of the second quarter. The Bulldogs held Davidson in its first possession of the quarter by not allowing a first down and forcing a punt on fourth down. The Wildcats punted from their own 25-yard line, but a 14-yard shank gave the Bulldogs great field position on Davidson’s 39. After two complete passes, the Bulldogs moved into scoring position. On third and goal, Piatkowski, scrambling to stay away from the Wildcat defense, threw a strike to senior Steve Platek for an 11-yard touchdown.

Davidson looked to respond on offense, but a screen pass from freshman quarterback Jonathan Carkhuff was intercepted by the defensive end Taylor, who ran 36 yards for a touchdown.

“Our defense definitely performed today,” Head Coach Chris Creighton said. “They forced turnovers and converted them to points. They deserved to have fun.”

Davidson came back near the end of the first half to tighten the score. The Wildcats marched into Drake territory, and scored on a two-yard pass from Carkhuff to senior Justin Williams.

The fourth quarter started with a Davidson field goal to make it 14-10. Drake came back on its next possession, with Piatkowski firing a 27-yard touchdown pass to junior Drew Blackmon. Drake’s success continued on Davidson’s next possession, when Lahart intercepted a pass and raced 40 yards into the end zone. Within minutes, the Bulldogs were leading 28-10.

Drake dominated the remainder of the fourth, scoring touchdowns on its final two possessions. The second, which was a field goal attempt, was blocked by Davidson, and Piatkowski picked up the ball and carried it 22 yards for a touchdown.

“I saw the ball was rolling around and I tried to remember what we’ve done for turnovers in practice, so I just went for it,” Piatkowski said.

Drake trails undefeated Dayton and Jacksonville in the PFL standings. The Bulldogs nearly capped a comeback to defeat Jacksonville on the road on Oct. 9, falling 39-34. The team travels to Dayton, Ohio, on Nov. 6.

“This game was a dog fight,” Creighton said. “And the next will be the same thing.”

Piatkowski agreed that the team will need to work hard in the weeks ahead.

“We have to keep going, keep getting wins and stay hungry,” he said.

Drake will play at home again this Saturday at 1 p.m. against San Diego. The Bulldogs close the season at home on Nov. 13, against defending PFL champion Butler.

Photo: Heather Boone

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