Photo: Luke Nankivell
The Drake Bulldogs wrestled another victory from the Morehead State Eagles in Kentucky on Saturday. Drake’s fifth-year senior kicker Billy Janssen nailed four field goals en route to a 41-26 Bulldog victory.
“Billy (Janssen) was phenomenal with both his punting and his field goals,” head coach Chris Creighton said. “It took all three phases and it took every guy on this trip.”
Drake now owns a 5-1 record overall and a 3-0 record in the Pioneer Football League.Morehead State, entering this game with the top offense in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision, fell to 2-4 overall and 1-2 in the PFL while racking up just 297 total yards.
“We knew it was going to be a 60-minute battle, and it was,” Creighton said. “I’m just really proud of everyone. Our sidelines were into it, and even though it’s warm out and kind of a still-air day, I think we created some energy and our defense played so hard. (Defensive coordinator Brian) Ward and the staff had a great plan.”
Drake led 6-0 after the first quarter. Morehead State then answered with two touchdowns in the next quarter, but missed one extra point, jumping ahead 13-6.
Drake answered the offensive onslaught with a touchdown and yet another field goal. The Bulldogs led just 16-13 at the half.
“It’s huge for us,” Janssen said. “We know Morehead State is a scrappy team, and they always play us tough. Just like our theme, we know each week is a step in our climb, and we want to keep getting better and better. Our ultimate goal is to get to the top.”
The Bulldogs took the field from the locker room and had another three points within two minutes.
Senior quarterback Mike Piatkowski and senior running back Nathan Paddock awed the fans with an 80-yard pass for a touchdown halfway through the third quarter. Paddock, who had a career-high 163 yards receiving, was able to complete the play with a huge block by junior wide receiver Nick Rosa.
The 80-yard touchdown was the longest scoring play for Drake since 2007.
“Our offense is just running on all cylinders. (Piatkowski) did well, the O-line did well and the receivers did well,” Paddock said. “At the beginning of the game, we wanted to keep the ball as long as we could and keep their offense off the field. But I think a lot of that goes to our defense. In the beginning they had two or three 3-and-outs, so a big credit goes to our defense.”
To end the third quarter, Piaktowski completed a 15-yard pass to junior Joey Orlando for another touchdown.
Halfway through the fourth quarter, the Bulldogs scored yet another touchdown with a 10-yard run by junior running back Trey Morse.
The Eagles finally rallied with a touchdown and a failed two-point conversation attempt.
“You can’t shut down a team like that,” Creighton said, “but we played well.”