The Drake Bulldogs came into this past Saturday’s away game against Butler in an odd situation; starting quarterback Ian Corwin and backup Luke Bailey were out due to injury, forcing 3rd string first-year Blake Ellingson into his first career start. This short-notice change put pressure on the Bulldogs defense, as their best chance to win would come from a low-scoring affair. Luckily for them, the Bulldogs defense came prepared.
The Bulldogs dominated defensively, allowing just three points and 245 total yards of offense for Butler to work with. This dominant defensive performance carried Drake to a win, as the Bulldogs were only able to score six points offensively. Without this near-perfect defensive performance the Bulldogs would have likely fallen short of a victory.
Following the Bulldogs loss against Valparaiso at home over a week ago, then-starting quarterback Bailey explained that the team had the ability to win out if they played their best football.
“I believe we can win out the rest of the season and continue our hopes for a top spot in the conference,” Bailey said.
So far, this prediction has held up. The Bulldogs focused on minimizing mistakes offensively this week, and it paid off. Drake’s Ellington played a key part in this, ending the game with no interceptions despite a day full of contested passing lanes.
“It always feels good to not turnover the ball in such a chaotic sport like football,” Ellington said. “Being coached up the right way throughout the practice week on where and when to deliver the ball gave me the confidence I needed before the game even started.”
Even though Ellington’s performance was not particularly flashy, his ball security played a large role in the Bulldogs ability to play downhill defensively.
The Bulldogs defense came to play when it mattered most on Saturday, with several crucial stops deep within their own territory. When asked about the most influential aspects of Saturday’s game, Ellington started by noting the Bulldogs ability to stop Butler with their backs against the wall.
The Bulldogs miniscule offensive production came primarily from Cross Robinson, who racked up 63 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries. Cross Robinson has maintained his stance as one of the most consistent producers within the Bulldogs offense, averaging over 60 yards a game through the Bulldogs first two league matchups.
Colin Howard has also continued to dominate offensively, with four receptions for 92 yards on the day, extending his streak as the Bulldogs leader in receiving yards in every game this season.
Drake’s matchup against Butler was put to rest with a seven-yard first down pass from Ellington to tight end Ryan Hayes with 1:53 left in the game, the final nail in the coffin as the Bulldogs knelt the clock down to 0:00 following that play.
Moving forward, the Bulldogs will likely focus on increasing offensive production and maintaining consistency defensively.
“Our defense has to keep being themselves, physical and smart,” Ellington. “Offensively we will have to string together better possessions and eliminate mistakes in order to put more points up and take down Dayton.”
There’s no doubt that Drake will have to put up more points next week to win, facing a Dayton team that has scored a total of 101 points in their last two games alone. Knowing whether they do so will have to wait until Saturday, Oct. 9, but there is no doubt that this Bulldogs team will come home ready to play.