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Bulldogs in good spirits after defeating Boulder

Photo courtesy of Drake Athletics

Last Saturday’s away matchup between Drake football and Butler University took place in the historical city of Indianapolis, where a rich culture of football finds itself home. Head coach Todd Stepsis said he appreciated the time he and his players spent out on the road. 

“You get away from campus, and it’s just us,” Stepsis said. “And Butler is a great place to play… It’s a historical type of place with the Butler Bowl and the Hinkle Fieldhouse.”  

Junior defensive back Danny Morales said he felt it was a good experience for him and his teammates. 

“Just being with the guys…it was really good memories,” Morales said. “I enjoyed that for sure.” 

But the Bulldogs were not in Indianapolis just for some sightseeing. They were there to play some Drake football and make a statement, and they did just that with a 33-7 win over Butler. 

Coach Stepsis said the dominating performance is what he thought he would expect from the start of the season. 

“I’m surprised we didn’t see some of this sooner,” Stepsis said. “I knew it was going to happen. It was just a matter of when.”

The moment Stepsis was referring to was in the second quarter, when sophomore quarterback Ian Corwin made his return to the football field after he was injured in Drake’s first home game against San Diego. He proceeded to take over what was before a pretty close matchup between both Bulldog teams, worryingly reminiscent of the previous upset loss against Valparaiso University. 

Corwin wowed his coaches and teammates with three touchdown passes and 142 total yards, all taking place in the just the second quarter alone. Coach Stepsis said it took a one-on-one conversation with Corwin to remind him of his role as a contributor to the team. 

“We watched some of his tape when he first came in as a true freshman,” Stepsis said. “Just like, ‘Hey man, that same guy is in there, you just gotta let him out now.’”

And the liberation of Ian Corwin spelled bad things for Butler. From there, the PFL Offensive Player of the Week connected with young receivers Colin Howard and Brandon Langdok for two touchdowns along with sophomore running back Caden Meis for another. 

Morales congratulated Corwin on his return. 

“I was super excited about that,” Morales said. “It was exciting to see Ian throw some touchdown passes and run for some first downs.” 

Adding to the excitement, Coach Stepsis acknowledged the impressive performance of Drake’s young receivers. 

“You need time to find out who your best eleven are,” Stepsis said. “Colin seems to be our big play guy…Brandon, being a true freshman, has some good quickness to him…The future is definitely bright for them.” 

When it came time for mop up duty, Drake’s veteran run game and defensive presence executed once again. Senior running back and captain Cross Robinson ran for 74 yards and a touchdown, while Drake’s defense held Butler to a single touchdown late in the fourth. 

Coach Stepsis said he believed the whole defense came to play that game, but he did mention Morales as an impressive force. 

“He never misses,” Stepsis said. “He knows the game, and he knows how to play it the right way.”

Morales was among freshman defensive back Jackson Williams and sophomore linebacker Linden Howe with five total tackles, while he individually added three pass breakups to his box score. Like many others, Morales said the defense’s mentality of hard work and focus has kept them consistent throughout the spring season. 

“We really tried to focus on improving what we were doing, especially after the week before where we just wanted to reset,” Morales said. “Just working towards that, and it just happened that Butler was there that week.” 

Along with celebrating the win, Coach Stepsis said there were two moments from the recent games against Valparaiso and Butler that he wanted to share. The first being senior running back Conner Furu’s return to the field after 1,000 days of being inactive, and the second being senior receiver Brady Bjorkman recording his first collegiate catch in four years.   

“Those are the things that don’t make the papers necessarily,” Stepsis said. “But you just see the look on those guy’s faces when they come off the field after finally sticking through all this hard work…You know, that’s why you do it.”   

Drake will look to build off the momentum of the Butler win when they take on the newcomers to the Pioneer Football League, the Presbyterian Blue Hose. Morales reiterated the message of focusing on themselves as a team. 

“This is our last game of the season, so we’re just making the most of it,” Morales said. “Just trying to put everything out on the field, making sure everyone knows who we are as a team…”

The Blue Hose currently sits at three in the PFL rankings. Coach Stepsis accredited the talent of Presbyterian.

“Great quarterback. Great skill athletes. They got some great talent,” Stepsis said. “I’m excited for this weekend…We made a pretty big jump this past game, so let’s see if we can make an even bigger jump now.”

The Bulldog’s last regular season matchup will be at home against the Presbyterian Blue Hose. Kickoff will be at 1 p.m. Fans can enter the raffle on the DU Rewards phone app for a chance to win some tickets for the game or buy general admission tickets at draketix.com. For streaming, they can watch the game on ESPN + and godrakebulldogs.com.    

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