BY JD PELEGRINO
Week 10 presented the Drake Bulldogs with a tough pill to swallow. The Bulldogs traveled to San Diego to play the Toreros, who were undefeated in conference, but fell short in a 45-15 loss.
The Bulldogs welcomed back quarterback Grant Kraemer from a knee injury that sidelined him for the last game and a half. Kraemer completed 15 of 28 pass attempts for 224 yards and one touchdown. Kraemer’s top weapon on offense was receiver Steven Doran, who hauled in seven receptions for 141 yards with one touchdown on Saturday.
“Every receiver has their individual preferences on how they run their route and just … repetition, repetition, repetition,” Doran said. “Me and Grant have just gotten good at knowing where I’ll be.”
Doran also mentioned that back-up QB Sam Hefner played a great game against Davidson, and that Doran and Hefner being friends off the field made communication easier.
Throughout most games this season, the Bulldogs have had a running back post around 100 yards rushing. The run game was a non-factor against San Diego. Kraemer and four of the teams RBs combined to manage only 16 total rush yards on 21 carries.
The Bulldogs missed wide receiver Mitchell McFarlane last week and will continue to play without him for the rest of the season after he sustained an ACL injury two weeks ago, according to Doran. McFarlane has been one of the other dynamic receivers on the field aside from Doran.
There was not much the Bulldogs could do to stop the Toreros’ offense. San Diego QB Anthony Lawrence completed 27 of 36 passes for 326 yards and four touchdowns. The Bulldog defense did not have much of an answer for the San Diego aerial game. The opposition ran for 122 yards and two touchdowns as well. The Bulldogs secondary, who had forced at least one turnover in each of their last several games, did not get a takeaway in this matchup.
The loss against the Toreros has eliminated the Bulldogs from playoff contention this post-season. However, there are still two games left against above .500 teams. Campbell (6-4) will host the Bulldogs this weekend as they stay on the road. The following week, Jacksonville (6-3) will travel to Drake Stadium for the final game of the 2017 season.
“I am really interested to see how the freshmen are going to step up and how the freshmen will contribute,” Doran said.
Doran cited McFarlane as one of the first-years who stepped up for the team this year, and is optimistic about what members who redshirted this year have to offer come their times of eligibility.
Spring ball is perhaps the most opportunistic time for football teams: this is when players showcase themselves in drills and against other teams in brief games prior to next season.
The Bulldogs play away at Campbell in North Carolina this Saturday, Nov. 11 at 12 p.m. Wins over Campbell and Jacksonville would be huge boosts, as two wins could provide Drake with the momentum they’d like to have for spring ball and next season.