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Drake dominates second half en route to first win

Story by Austin Cannon

Photo by Cameron Johnson

fball_johnson-w2000-h2000The Drake University football team used a second half, 31-point outburst to stifle the University of  Indianapolis and get its first win of the season, 31-14.

Head coach Chris Creighton was pleased that his team returned to playing the game it knows best.

“For the most part, we got to Drake football. That is what we are longing for and what will help propel us to start the Pioneer Football League season,” Creighton said.

“Just for us to get a win going into conference is big,” junior running back Gary Scott Jr. said. “It’s great confidence for us.”

Down 7-3 to begin the second half, the Bulldogs marched down the field and arrived at the Indianapolis 20-yard line.

A 14-yard dash up the middle from quarterback Andy Rice got the ball to the six,  and an illegal substitution penalty on the Greyhounds moved the ball to the three.

On the ensuing play, Rice lofted a ball towards fifth-year senior Nick Rosa in the back right corner of the end zone. Rosa fought off an Indianapolis defender, who was called for defensive pass interference on the play and hauled in the pass one-handed for the score.

Drake had the lead at 10-7 and kept it for the rest of the game.

Up 13-7, Drake prepared to receive an Indianapolis punt.

Sophomore Eric Saubert rushed Greyhound punter Scott Miller and, with a blocker still in front of him, managed to reach out and block the punt.

Miller then kicked the ball while it was on the ground and was called for illegal kicking, putting the Bulldogs in prime scoring position on the Indianapolis 11.

After a couple short runs from Scott, it was third down and five from the Indianapolis six.

Time for a little déjà vu.

Rice threw a fade to the back corner of the end zone, once again intended for Rosa.

A Greyhound defensive back all over him, Rosa, who finished with 107 receiving yards on the day, reached out with one hand and hauled in the pass for his second touchdown.

The defender was, as you’ve probably guessed, again called for pass interference.

The Bulldogs went for two after the score. They converted on a Rice pass to tight end Kevin Marshall to extend the Drake lead to 21-7 with a little over a minute remaining in the third quarter.

Midway through the fourth quarter, running back Conley Wilkins took a pitch from Rice and threw towards the end zone. It was intercepted by Indianapolis’s Andre Smith at the two-yard line.

After an incomplete pass, Greyhound quarterback Chris Mills dropped back to pass in his own end zone. As he reached back to throw, Drake fifth-year senior defensive end Brandon Coleman knocked the ball out of his hand. The ball rolled around in the end zone for a second or two before Drake’s Sean Conerty fell on it for a Bulldog touchdown.

Coleman attributed Drake’s presence in the Indianapolis backfield to the Bulldog’s offensive success.

“They have to start throwing the ball all of a sudden, it’s nice … I really  didn’t have to take a read step and read the run or anything like that. I can just go,” Coleman said.

The point after was good and Drake led 28-7.

Drake coasted from there, only giving up a meaningless touchdown with 34 seconds left in the game.

Freshman kicker Ben Tesson had an excellent showing for the Bulldogs. He was a perfect 3-3 on field goals, including a massive 52-yarder to give Drake some momentum as time expired in the first half.

That kick tied former Drake star Bily Cundiff for the fifth longest in school history. And, as Coleman noted, it provide a huge boost going into the locker room.

“That really launched us going into the second half, both (on) offense and defense,” Coleman said.

Even without scoring a touchdown, Scott was effective running the ball, especially in the second half.

He averaged 3.6 yards per carry in the first half. He nearly doubled that in the second, averaging 6.1 and finishing with 117 total yards on the ground.

After only throwing only twice, both incomplete, in the first quarter, Rice recovered to have a solid game. He threw for 211 yards and completed nearly 74 percent of his passes.

The first quarter ended 0-0. Indianapolis left points off the board with a missed field goal and Drake couldn’t muster anything offensively, going three and out twice.

The Greyhounds got on the board first, scoring on a 22-yard pass from Mills to receiver Greg Johnson with 52 seconds remaining in the first half. Their other score came on a 15-yard Mills pass to Klay Fiechter with seconds left in regulation.

Fiecher then recovered the ensuing onside kick, but an interception by Drake defensive back Dustin Davis on the next play effectively ended the game.

The Bulldogs return to action next Saturday to kick off the Pioneer Football League schedule with a noon game at Mercer.


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