On Saturday, Nov. 11, the Drake football team would make history. The Bulldogs took on the Presbyterian Blue Hoses in a game that the whole community would remember for years to come.
Going into the game, the stakes were extremely high for the Drake Bulldogs. They were tied for first place in the Pioneer Football League with the Davidson Wildcats, and soon the fans in the crowd would know that this game meant so much more than just another win on the schedule.
In a strong win for the Morehead State Eagles, Davidson would lose 47-17 earlier that same day. This meant that, with a win against Presbyterian, the Bulldogs would clinch a tiebreaking share of the championship title for the first time in 12 years. Whether the Bulldogs knew it or not, the outcome of this game would mean everything for the rest of the conference and would put the Bulldogs on the map in a way that they could have only dreamed of after a 3-8 2022 season.
This game was also important to Drake due to senior night, and seniors would play their last game in the Drake Stadium. Although a bittersweet moment for most, it was an important time to recognize all of the talent and hard work that has gone into making their team the best in the conference.
“Obviously, it is a cool moment to recognize all of the work you have put in and then the guys getting to bring their families and share that with the team,” kicker Shane Dunning said. “It’s good for them, and it’s good for us to see the people behind the people we see everyday that make them them.”
In the first quarter, the Bulldogs wasted no time putting a touchdown on the board. With five minutes left in the quarter, running back Dorian Boyland and Dunning worked together after a 3-yard run for a touchdown and a clean extra point for Drake. Just minutes after this, though, the Blue Hoses fired back and put their own touchdown on the board, evening the score out early in the game.
This would be the end of the first quarter but not the end of the scoring before halftime. With just two minutes left in the half, Dunning put another field goal on the board for the Bulldogs, advancing the score to 10-7.
Although the Bulldogs were in the lead going into the second half, they had to make sure that they could keep this lead and hold it until the very end. In the third quarter, Dunning would manage to put two more field goals on the board for the Bulldogs advancing the score to 16-7 going into the fourth and final quarter of the game. Knowing that holding onto the lead would result in a much-needed win for the Bulldogs, the team worked together to minimize ball movement and make sure that, no matter what position they were put in, they would still be ahead.
With two minutes left in the game, Presbyterian put their last touchdown on the board. After the Bulldogs recovered a Presbyterian onside kick attempt and secured a first down, quarterback Luke Bailey would kneel out the clock and Drake would end up winning 16-14.
“This win feels great,” defensive lineman Duke Frye said. “Clinching a share of the conference championship feels amazing as a team, but we definitely aren’t finished. We are focused on Butler next week and finishing strong.”
On top of getting a much needed win and securing a share of the conference title for the first time in over 10 years, this win meant another door was opened up for the Bulldogs. With a win in their final game of the season, Drake secured a spot in the FCS playoffs for the first time in program history.
“Regardless of what happens next week against Butler, we get a ring and a trophy to bring back to campus which is super exciting,” linebacker Jake Thompson said.” “If we win next week though, we go to the playoffs for the first time in school history, and today’s win really emphasizes that we can beat any team in our conference.”
With all the excitement in the air, the Bulldogs will work to secure a playoff run and Pioneer Football League title against the Butler Bulldogs on Saturday, Nov. 18, at 11 a.m.