STORY BY COLTON WARREN
The Drake football team fought to a 17-14 loss to San Diego after their offense screeched to a halt in the second half of Saturday’s tilt at Drake Stadium.
Drake got out to a quick start, running over the Terrero defense in the its first two possessions of the game on the way to an early 14-0 lead in the first half.
But that would be all the scoring the Bulldog offense could produce, and San Diego mounted a comeback to end Drake’s 19-game home conference winning streak.
With just 1:21 left in the fourth quarter, San Diego quarterback Keith Williams found Chris Campano wide open on the right side of the field.
Campano walked into the endzone for San Diego’s first lead of the game, capping a 13-play, 87-yard drive that gave the Terreros the win.
“As a defense we need to be better,” said senior linebacker John Huginin of the final drive. “For the majority of the game, we handled them pretty well, but we couldn’t deliver most when we needed to.”
Both sides were heavily penalized throughout the game, combining for 15 flags and 146 penalty yards.
Drake head coach Rick Fox said some of those penalties contributed to the San Diego comeback down the stretch.
“We lost some discipline in the fourth quarter,” Fox said. “Those were decisive penalties.”
The Bulldog offense looked poised for another scoring battle early in the first half before the contest shifted to a defensive standoff in the second half.
On its first possession, Drake went 80 yards in 17 plays and running back Conley Wilkins punched in a one-yard score.
The drive was kept alive by a pass interference against San Diego, and a 15-yard run on third down from quarterback Andy Rice got Drake to the three yard line. Two plays later, Wilkins ran it in for his 10th touchdown on the season to put the Bulldogs up 7-0.
Their next possession looked much the same, as the Drake offense moved the ball down the field with little difficulty.
On third and 11, Rice dropped back to pass before scrambling out of the pocket. He found a lane down the left side of the field and took off for the 23-yard touchdown. Drake led 14-0 early in the second quarter.
Just two possessions later San Diego got themselves on the scoreboard with just three plays.
Following a 35-yard punt that Cam Bohnert took from his own endzone, the Terreros set up at the Drake 39 with 7:02 left in the first half.
After two running plays picked up four yards, Williams found a streaking Brandon White down the right side of the Drake defense for a 35-yard score.
The 14-7 score stood until the half despite a San Diego turnover in their own territory.
On a third and 10 from their own 45, Williams dropped back under heavy pressure from the Drake defensive line. Senior Brett Park hit Williams hard as he threw the ball away deep down the sideline. The pass never made it out of bounds and floated into defensive back Bob Quilico Jr.’s hands at the Drake 31.
Quilico returned the interception 21 yards into San Diego territory to set Drake up with good field position and a chance to extend its lead before half.
“As a defense, turnovers are what we preach,” Huginin said. “As long as we are creating more opportunities for our offense, it’s never a bad thing.”
Huginin didn’t forget to give credit to the defensive line for forcing the bad throw from Williams.
“The front line makes my life so easy,” Huginin said. “I have been so spoiled the last four years with Matt Acree and Brett Park up there … they are a big deal in this conference.”
However, the Bulldog offense failed to put anything together and was forced to punt after just three plays.
In the third quarter, San Diego kicker David Last converted a 50-yard field goal attempt to narrow the Drake lead to 14-10.
The Drake offense continued to struggle to put a full drive together, and allowed San Diego to stay close going into the fourth quarter.
Neither team did much with the ball before San Diego’s game-winning touch down late in the fourth quarter that gave Drake its second conference loss this season.
Junior linebacker Taylor Coleman led the Drake defense with 11 tackles. San Diego was held to 271 yards on the day. Huginin and linebacker Sean Conerty each added eight tackles.
On senior day at Drake stadium, Rice went 10-27 for 87 yards and no interceptions and added 53 yards on 13 carries and one score.
Huginin was immediately ready to move on and travel to Dayton Nov. 8 for the Bulldog’s next conference match.
“Flush it, this game’s over,” Huginin said. “We can only learn from it from now … Dayton is a big, physical team, too. We just have to be ready to be good tacklers and just go from there.”