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Winners of 4 straight, Drake football keeps pedal floored

DRAKE’S WIN OVER Valparaiso marked the second of four consecutive wins. In the game, Drake passed for 267 yards, their highest amount since September of 2022. Drake has since surpassed that tally in two games. photo by Sarah Fey | Staff photographer

Going into the third and fourth week of conference play for the Drake Football team, spirits were higher than ever as the team began Pioneer Football League play with two consecutive wins.

On Saturday, Oct. 14, the Bulldogs hosted the St. Thomas Tommies at Drake Stadium for what would be one of the best statistical games in the team’s history, despite a chilling breeze and some rain that narrowed the crowd. 

In the first half, just five minutes into the game, running back Dorian Boyland started off the game strong for Drake when he hauled in a two-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Luke Bailey. This early touchdown boosted the Bulldog’s momentum, but the quarter would eventually end in a draw with St. Thomas scoring a touchdown of their own at the end of the first quarter, bringing the score to 7-7.

St. Thomas opened the second quarter with a touchdown to take the lead 13-6 after a  missed extra point, but the Bulldogs did not take long to fire back. Wide receiver Mitchell January would be the second to score for Drake with a touchdown that would put them in the lead at 14-13. 

The Tommies then fired back with not only a touchdown, but also a two-point conversion to get back the extra point they had missed earlier on. 

The Bailey-January connection continued to shine late in the second quarter with a touchdown pass from Bailey to January tying the score, just three minutes before halftime. With a clean field goal following a quick defensive stop, Drake took the lead to finish the half off with a score of 24-21. 

Knowing the second half would be a challenge, the Bulldogs kept the hot hand and rode their momentum into the third quarter. Seven minutes into the third quarter, tight end Eli Stewart and Bailey teamed up for what would be the first of four Drake touchdowns in the second half. This touchdown would be followed by not one but two touchdowns from tight end Parker Olthoff, who would finish out the third quarter scoring, bringing the Bulldog’s lead to 45-21.

To top off a solid win for the Bulldogs, as if a 24-point lead was not enough, running back Christian Galvan secured the last touchdown of the game making the final score 52-21. This win not only meant that Drake was 3-0 in its conference, but the Bulldogs took down the defending conference champions.

“It obviously helps to win, but the way we did by 31 points 110%helps, especially against the team who was supposed to be the best in the conference this year,” linebacker Jacob Thompson said.

With team spirit like no other during this game, the Bulldogs reflected back on just how much this win means for the team, but also their upcoming competition.

“The win was awesome. Our team played very well on both sides of the ball. Everyone is in a great mood, and we are all looking forward to playing San Diego,” Bailey said. 

The following week on Saturday, Oct. 21, the Bulldogs traveled to California to take on the San Diego Toreros at Torero Stadium. 

The first quarter started off slow for both teams. For the most part, the two played hot potato with the ball trying to put points on the board. Drake was the first to score with a clean field goal thanks to kicker Shane Dunning to kick things off for the night. 

In the second quarter, the gameplay started to heat up on both sides, and from that point forward it would be a back and forth game that kept the crowd on its feet. Dunning proceeded to kick two field goals in this quarter for the Bulldogs to help secure a lead going into halftime, but the Torero’s struck back quickly. San Diego’s cornerback Nick Murray put a touchdown on the board for the Toreros with an 83-yard interception return to make the score 9-7 going into halftime. 

Knowing that the team struggled in the first half to score, the Bulldogs knew they would have to get to work advancing their lead so they wouldn’t fall behind. The Toreros started the half off with a field goal to change the score to 10-9 San Diego, but that lead would not stand for long. 

Four minutes later, Dunning added another three points to the board with a 50-yard field goal that would be followed closely by a touchdown by January off of a 49-yard pass from Bailey. This quarter would end with a score of 19-10 Drake, but the game was about to heat up, and fast.

The fourth quarter was nothing short of a nail-biter. San Diego would progress through the half starting with a field goal at the 11 minute mark and a touchdown with only 42 seconds left in the game.

At this point, the score was 20-19 San Diego with only a minute left, leaving the Bulldogs with little time to regain the lead. After a few completions to move the ball downfield, and with mere seconds on the clock, the Bulldogs lined up for what would be a Hail Mary attempt. During the play, Bailey launched a 38-yard pass that landed perfectly into the hands of wide receiver Trey Radocha, claiming a walk-off win for the Bulldogs. 

With a final score of 25-20 Drake, the Bulldogs jumped to 4-0 conference record that would tie the team with Davidson College for first in the conference. Not only was this a big game overall, but with the win so far from home, the game meant even more.

“Being away from home normally would be tough but our fans traveled amazingly and showed up for us,” defensive lineman Duke Frye said. “Having a large amount of Drake fans definitely made the win a lot better.”

The Bulldogs next play on Saturday, Oct. 28 at 12:00 p.m. against the Stetson Hatters at home in the Drake Stadium, where Drake will work to defend its conference lead.

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