BY DRAKE LOHSE
The Drake football team entered Saturday’s game against Marist with a record of 5-3. With Marist in position to take home the conference title, and Drake competing for second place in the Pioneer Football League, the game was a defensive showdown. With a stadium full of incoming recruits, Drake was up against a challenge on their last home game of the season. A challenge not like many they’ve faced all year.
“Marist plays a different defense then we’ve seen all year. They had a good game plan and played very solid the whole game,” said fifth-year quarterback Grant Kraemer. “They were physical and matched our physicality. They were playing for the conference championship and you can tell they were gonna leave it all on the field.”
Kraemer’s accurate description of the game was present throughout most of Saturday’s game. For the first three-quarters of action, both Drake and Marist were locked in a stalemate. The first half saw promising drives from both teams sputter out—partially due to the rigid defense displayed on both sides.
“The defense was amazing today,” junior defensive back Will Warner said. “They bailed out the offense so many times and really put us in a great position to win that game.” They would end the third quarter with the same score they had entered it with—3-3.
Early in the fourth, the defensive demons from Des Moines lived up to their 2018 namesake, holding off Marist on an impressive goal-line stand. The jubilation wouldn’t last. Just a drive later, Marist quarterback Austin Day would find receiver Jutson Christian in the back of the Drake end zone for the first touchdown of the game.
On the resulting Drake drive, Grant Kraemer would hit Steve Doran on a long ball to tie the game right back up. Marist would receive the kickoff and attempt it’s own scoring drive, but it was cut short early when Iowa native Will Warner would pick off Marist’s Austin Day, returning it deep into Marist territory. It would be his second pick of the game.
Marist’s defense held Drake on the end zone on the ensuing drive, and Drake would come away with a field goal. Austin Day and the Marist Red Foxes would get one last shot at a win. Heaving desperate passes in an attempt to breach Drake territory with the clock winding down, Day would throw his third interception. Once again, it was Will Warner who would make the play, picking off Day and returning it to midfield—before kneeing and all but sealing the Drake win.
“[Those three picks] meant a lot, mainly that it put us in positions to win the game. I kinda got lucky being in the right spot but it’s a full team effort on all three,” Warner said. “Our d-line and backers rush the quarterback and give him no time, and the rest of the dbs lock down the rest of the receivers to make him make a bad choice. Really could’ve been any of us out there. It was really special winning our last home game for the people graduating. They’re the leaders of this team and have mentored and pushed the rest of us to be the best we can be, guys like Sean Lynch, Austin Dismond, Terry Wallen, Jabari Butler, and all of the fifth-years. They mean so much to me and the rest of our team!”
With the win on Saturday, Drake’s football record against Marist improves to 7-0. They hit the road to face off against Morehead State next Saturday, with hopes of closing out the season with a record of 7-3.