by JD PELEGRINO
Drake football is now 2-0 in the Pioneer Football league after demolishing Valparaiso at home during Parent’s Weekend on Saturday. Everything appeared to have gone right for the Bulldogs on both sides of the ball, which was made evident by the 35-6 win for their second-straight win of the season. The Bulldogs are now 24-3 against Valpo all-time and have won the past 16 straight contests, dating back to 2004.
Kickoff was pushed back to 2 p.m. due to the weather conditions, but it was Valpo set to receive the opening kickoff. After a short three-play drive, Valpo punted the ball to Drake. The entire first quarter was scoreless, but on the second Valparaiso drive, Drake safety Will Warner intercepted opposing quarterback Jimmy Seewald’s pass and returned it for 3 yards. This was the first turnover Drake forced of the game.
With five minutes left in the first quarter and two minutes into the second, Drake took possession of the ball and drove 64 yards in 15 methodical plays for the game’s first touchdown. Fifth-year running back Drew Lauer pounded in the rock taking a handoff from freshman quarterback Ian Corwin. This was the first of Lauer’s touchdowns in the game. Drake led the game 7-0 at the beginning of the second quarter.
One minute and a half later, Drake got the ball back due to their stark defense. Corwin and the offense was out to put the game away early. It only took them five plays in under two minutes to go 62 yards before running back Caden Meis caught an 11-yard TD pass from Corwin for his first score of the game. The Bulldogs increased their lead to 14-0 with 10 minutes left to play in the second.
On the succeeding drive, Valpo drove 37 yards into Drake territory before field goal kicker Dimitrios Latsonas, who has one of the most powerful legs in the PFL, knocked through a 46-yard field goal for Valpo’s first points of the game.
With four minutes left to play in the second quarter, Corwin, Lauer, and wide receiver Steve Doran drove down the field to put up another score for Drake. Lauer had 35 total rushing yards on the drive, while Corwin found Doran for a 14-yard gain. Lauer capped the drive off with his second 15-yard rush of the drive, for a touchdown. After allowing another Latsonas field goal from Valpo, this time a 41-yarder, Drake held the lead 21-6 at the end of the first half.
Drake received the opening kickoff of the second half and they wanted to put the game away. Corwin hit redshirt-junior RB Isaiah Skinner for a 22-yard gain to begin the drive. To complete the two-play, 75-yard drive, Meis took a 53-yard play to the house, doing it all himself on a rush. Following PAT kicker Nathan De Bruin’s PAT kick, Drake held the lead 28-6.
Valparaiso didn’t score again, and on their second drive of the second half, Valpo QB Seewald, threw his second pick of the game. Drake’s Collin Seymour was there to make the play, intercepting the ball for a 2-yard return to give the offense the ball at the Drake 43-yard line.
Corwin threw seven passes on the drive for 40 total yards, but there was also a Valparaiso facemask penalty when attempting to tackle Lauer on the second-to-last play of the drive, advancing the ball 5 more yard to the Valparaiso 4-yard line. Corwin found his biggest receiver Devin Cates for the final score of the game. Drake captured an easy win 35-6 over Valpo in Valpo’s conference opener.
Corwin was 13 for 20 in the contest throwing for 154 yards and 2 touchdowns with not a single interception. Most of Corwin’s scoring drives happened in only a few minutes, if that. He looked more comfortable in this game than he has in most this season, with the exception of last week against Marist.
Running backs Drew Lauer and Caden Meis ran all over Valparaiso. Lauer had 17 carries for 77 yards contributing 2 rushing touchdowns to the overall score. Meis had 12 carries for 90 yards and one rushing touchdown. He also had 1 reception for an 11-yard touchdown, adding two total touchdowns to the team’s 35 points.
Receivers Steve Doran and Devin Cates had the best of the Valparaiso secondary with 4 and 3 catches respectively. Doran had 61 yards on the day, averaging 15.3 yards-per-catch. Cates had 38 yards in the game for 12.7 yards-per-catch with the game’s final touchdown.
Two of Drake’s top defensive backs, redshirt-juniors Will Warner and Collin Seymour captured an interception each for Drake’s two forced turnovers. Warner was one of the defensive players in the PFL last year and led the league in interceptions.
Drake now moves to 2-0 in conference, which is what matters when shooting for the PFL championship trophy. They are 1-of-3 teams to have played two conference game so far this season, and are the only 2-0 (against conference opponents) team.
Next week, the Drake Bulldogs will be on the road against the Butler Bulldogs (1-4, 0-1 conf.) in Indianapolis. Kickoff is set for 12 p.m.