Photo: Luke Nankivell
After a week of tightly contested football, the Bulldogs look to start 2-0 in Pioneer Football League play as they travel to Buies Creek, N.C., to take on the Campbell Fighting Camels in their first road test of the conference season.
After last week’s heart-pounding victory over Morehead State, the Bulldogs look to have a stronger performance against one of the PFL’s less accomplished teams.
After losing at Butler by a score of 35-14, the Camels look to respond with force against a Bulldog team that is known for big plays and defense. Last week, the Bulldogs got big plays from fifth-year seniors Anthony Gianaras and Tyler Moorehead that led to turnovers and points for Drake en route to sealing a victory over the Eagles.
Campbell will be looking for another big game from quarterback Dakota Wolf, who ran for 111 yards and passed for 159 in its loss to Butler. The past three games have shown that Drake can struggle to stop the run. The Bulldogs will try to contain the Camels’ running attack.
For Drake, the offense will go as far as fifth-year senior quarterback Mike Piatkowski will take it. His experience and skill will be a matchup nightmare for Campbell, as he is incredibly adept at spreading the ball around to his receivers.
Through four games, Drake has seen breakout performances from seniors Joey Orlando, Kevin Marshall, Nick Rosa, as well as sophomore Michael Hudson in different games, a testament to the balance the Drake passing game has.
Here are three matchups that will be major factors in the game.
1) Piatkowski vs. the Campbell pass rush
Piatkowski has overcome the pressure of breaking the all-time passing record; now he will try to continue his success as Campbell looks to stop him. Campbell has three interceptions in four games and 11 sacks. Piatkowski will have to be on his toes as Campbell will do its best to slow down the reigning PFL Offensive Player of the Year.
2) Drake Defensive Line vs. Wolf
Wolf is the main threat for the Fighting Camels, leading the team in rushing, and will be the focal point for the Bulldog defense. Stopping him starts with the defensive line. Getting consistent pressure and rattling Wolf will go a long way toward winning the game. Look for huge games from senior Brandon Coleman, Moorehead, Gianaras and junior Matt Acree.
3) Drake offensive line vs. Campbell defensive line
After a solid game against Morehead State, all eyes will be on the Drake offensive line as it attempts to slow down the Campbell defensive line. Campbell has seven players with at least half a sack and will use all of them to slow down the powerful offense of the Bulldogs. If the Bulldogs can give Piatkowski time and avoid costly penalties, they should be on their way to a 2-0 start.
This game is an important one for the Bulldogs with powerhouse San Diego coming to Drake Stadium in a week. Preparation and focus is a must for the Bulldogs this week to avoid falling into the stereotypical trap game versus Campbell. Look for a resounding energy and intensity from Drake. Kickoff is set for 5 p.m.