Photos: Luke Nankivell
Playing in front of a raucous home crowd, the Drake University football team defeated Grand View University on Aug. 30, 28-8.
“That was the best that the student section has been in my five years at Drake,” said head coach Chris Creighton.
As students filled the stands for a break from their first assignments, the Bulldogs (1-0) used the game against their cross-town rivals as a test of their preseason preparations and fitness.
After falling behind 6-0 to the Vikings (1-1), Drake’s offense managed to regroup and deliver something to cheer about for the 4,158 supporters in attendance.
“We proudly represent Drake and really appreciate them (the fans). They do impact the energy and success on the field,” Creighton said.
Fifth-year senior quarterback Mike Piatkowski connected with senior Nick Rosa to put the Bulldogs on the board and give them their first lead of the night at 7-6.
“There were two instances when we were passing where the guys got a little confused,” Creighton said. “Grand View’s defense is built to confuse the opponent’s offense and we managed to get it figured out.”
The Bulldogs expanded their lead throughout the remainder of the game with a consistent effort by the Bulldog defense.
Drake held Grand View to 241 total yards of offense as they collected nine sacks and 12 tackles for a loss.
Grand View was held to just its lone touchdown during the first quarter. The Vikings posted two additional points before the half after the Bulldogs failed to convert for a first down and drew a penalty prior to the punt. A miscalculated spike of the ball over the head of junior Jeremy Stein and into the end zone resulted in a safety.
Despite keeping the Vikings off the scoreboard in the second half, a Piatkowski interception and two turnovers on the ground proved the Bulldogs may not have been on their “A game” throughout the game.
Both players and coaching staff welcomed the win but said play will need to improve for future contests.
“It was definitely big,” Piatkowski said. “There was a lot of stuff we’ll learn from watching the films, for sure, but definitely coming away without overtime is always nice.”
Drake defeated Grand View 28-21 in overtime last season.
Reflecting on the game Creighton identified two overall team goals, winning the turnover ratio and coming out ahead in the battle of special teams, as areas the Bulldogs would focus their energy this week in practice.
“Our special teams made a big play for sure, but they gave us far too many other big plays,” Creighton said.
Creighton expects to see improvement as the Bulldogs face Montana State University this coming Saturday.
“The great improvement for the team is usually between the first and second game,” Creighton said. “We need to improve and be excellent in those areas when we face Montana State.”
Players echoed Creighton’s fervor for future success and had some insight of their own to offer as to how the Bulldogs intend to meet the demands of their nationally ranked opponent.
“We’re going to be prepared for them and study them hard. We need to be physical on defense. We allowed six points tonight, so we need to do the same thing,” said senior Naser Hannoon. “On offense, I know the last time we played them, we had our starting quarterback, Mike Piatkowski, out. This year, we’ll have him, so we’ll be ready to go.”
The next test of the Bulldogs’ training efforts and their ability to make adjustments in practice this week will take place this Saturday at Drake Stadium. Kick-off for the Bulldogs’ game against the Bobcats is scheduled for 6 p.m.