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Bulldogs survive late scare to win 27-23

Photo: File photo

Drake entered the field to a roaring home crowd for Parents and Family Weekend, and the Bulldogs battled to a 27-23 victory in front of an audience of 3,578 against Missouri S&T.

Although the weather was a little dismal and overcast at 58 degrees, there was nothing dismal about this game.

The Miners’ tough defense held strong for most of the first quarter, but Drake broke through for the game’s first score with a little over five minutes left in the period. Senior quarterback Mike Piatkowski connected with senior Nathan Paddock for a 16-yard touchdown strike.

The game heated up in the second quarter provided as both teams raised their intensity and level of play. The excitement started early in the period with an impressive blocked punt by senior linebacker Tyler Moorehead. Sophomore defensive back Brent Shelton recovered the ball and ran it 28 yards into the end zone to put Drake up 14-0.

“Our defense has really been coming through in the clutch, which has been good,” Moorehead said. “I’m starting to learn a little bit more about the defense and really step it up when we need to. It’s been looking good.”

Three minutes later, fifth-year senior kicker Billy Janssen added three more points with a 45-yard field goal.

Missouri S&T marched right back down the field and scored a rushing touchdown less than three minutes later to get on the board. The Miners added another touchdown in the final minute of the half to pull within 17-14 heading into the locker room.

The third quarter was an intense struggle between the two teams, each trying to gain the upper hand. Drake finally gained a little ground with a 37-yard field goal by Janssen.

Drake added to the lead early in the fourth quarter, as fifth-year senior running back Pat Cashmore scored on a 27-yard pass from Piatkowski.

The Miners responded with a touchdown and a two-point conversion within minutes.

“After my touchdown, when Missouri S&T marched down and scored on us I was little nervous, but I had complete faith in our defense,” Cashmore said “They always pull us out of tough times.”

Cashmore had 81 rushing yards and two receptions on the day, including the one for a touchdown.

“I’m mainly the third or fourth option on our pass plays,” Cashmore said. “Today they just left me open. Mike (Piatkowski) found my eyes and my eyes got really big and he fed me the ball and somehow I got to the end zone.”

The game remained stagnant at this point, each team vying for another score to pull ahead. With 3:24 remaining, Missouri S&T pinned Drake deep its own territory. On fourth down, instead of punting from their own end zone, the Bulldogs elected to concede two points by taking a safety. Drake still led 27-23 and had better field position to punt the ball to the Miners. Drake fans were on the edges of their seats as the Miners got the ball.

The Bulldogs defense finished strong and held the Miners on a fourth and 12. Missouri S&T turned the ball over on downs and Drake ran out the clock for the victory.

“We appreciate the crowd tonight and the support,” head coach Chris Creighton said. “It’s a beautiful night and it was a little bit more exciting and a little bit more interesting than I would like it to be, but I’m proud of our guys for finishing the game. We’re making it exciting, there’s really no question about that.”

Last week Piatkowski moved into fifth on the Drake career passing list, and this week he moved into fourth. He now has 4,757 career passing yards after completing 17 passes out of 30 attempts for 230 yards. He tossed two touchdowns and two interceptions.

HITTIN’ THE ROAD

SATURDAY, SEPT. 24
@ BUTLER, 11 a.m.

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