By JD PELEGRINO
Three games into the 2019 season and the Bulldogs find themselves 0-3. On Saturday, Drake traveled to South Dakota seeking their first win facing the South Dakota State Jackrabbits (SDSU). After a beat down opener against North Dakota and a 10-7 loss against Truman State at home Drake needed to find out “who [they] really are,” WR Devin Cates said.
SDSU received the opening kickoff and began the drive at their own 21-yard line. The Jackrabbits first drive went 70-yards in 14 plays, concluding with a field goal by senior kicker Chase Vinatieri, nephew of NFL great Adam Vinatieri.
On Drake’s first possession they received a false start on the first play for a 5-yard loss. Senior RB Drew Lauer carried twice for 5-yards. Freshman QB Ian Corwin threw an incomplete pass on third-and-10 signaling senior punter Ross Kennedy onto the field for the first time. Kennedy punted the ball 52-yards and the ball was fumbled by SDSU’s Jaxson Janke and recovered by Drake’s Noah Larson.
The Bulldogs carried their momentum into their second drive on the SDSU 20-yard line. But the drive gained just 3-yards in three plays and freshman kicker Nathan De Bruin missed a routine 17-yard field goal. De Bruin would later connect on a 22-yard field goal for the Bulldogs’ only score of the first half. Halftime: SDSU 17, Drake 3.
Drake’s defense only allowed 17 points and hauled in one interception from LB Logan Backhaus. Fifth-year DE Erin Morgan, one of the leaders on defense has made sure the defense plays with intensity. “A strength on the defense that we have is our effort,” Morgan said. “We are always running to the football and playing with an intensity and since of pride about ourselves.”
In the second half Drake’s defense allowed 21 points. Late in the fourth quarter, Drake DB Jeran Proctor sacked SDSU QB Kanin Nelson causing a fumble. The ball was recovered by Drake safety Will Warner.
Drake’s only score in the second half came during the fourth quarter. The Bulldogs went 90-yards in six plays. Two passes went for 30+ yards setting the Bulldogs up for a Shane Feller 10-yard touchdown. The only problem is that it takes more than one touchdown to win a game. Final score: SDSU 38, Drake 10.
The game wasn’t great, Drake wasn’t supposed to win. Our offense should score more than 10 points and our defense shouldn’t allow 38 points, although they forced two turnovers. Corwin is starting to look like he can play at the college level, completing 19-of-34 passes for 232-yards with 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions, but needs to be more efficient with the ball in his hands.
“[Corwin’s] got all the talent in the world, [he] just needs to focus it and continue to look for ways to improve,” Cates said about his QB. “He’s gotten better each game and I have no doubt he will continue to grow and get better as the year goes on.
Feller and Doran each had over 30-yards. Feller caught three passes for 39-yards and Doran had one for 32-yards. Lauer totaled 47-yards on 15 carries (3.1 yards-per-carry), whereas SDSU had two running backs combine for 236-yards on 21 carries (11.2 yards-per-carry).
“It’s never easy to start out a season 0-3,” Cates said. “We haven’t had a start at Drake like that in a very long time. We’ve shown spurts of greatness in those 3 games, we just haven’t been able to pull it together for a full 60 minutes.”
The Bulldogs have all of the weapons on both sides of the ball, with key pieces returning from last year. Fans should expect that the season turns around after the bye week. Conference play begins in two weeks when Drake (0-3) travels to Poughkeepsie, N.Y. to play Marist (1-1, 1-0 conf.). The game is set to begin at Saturday, Sep. 28 @12 p.m.