TERRE HAUTE, Ind. - The Drake University football team fell, 27-10, to No. 22 Indiana State in its final non-conference test of the season Saturday afternoon in Terre Haute, Ind.
The Sycamores' vaunted rushing offense proved to be the difference as ISU rushed for 368 yards with Payton Award finalist Shakir Bell racking up a school-record 349 yards. The Bulldogs were paced again by senior quarterback Mike Piatkowski's (Wheaton, Ill.) 329 yards on 31-of-53 passing with a touchdown strike to Nick Rosa (Owasso, Okla).
The Drake defense, which came into the game leading the nation in sacks and tackles for loss, was led by Bob Quilico's (Schaumburg, Ill.) 11 tackles with the defense getting six tackles for loss and an interception from Drew Ormseth (Lake in the Hills, Ill).
"That back [ISU's Shakir Bell], is special and we knew it," Drake head coach Chris Creighton said. "Those guys played hard and are a great football team. We're all about being our best and part of being your best is knowing how to win on gameday. We go into the Pioneer Football League now and we've got to find a way to do that."
The two teams entered halftime knotted at 10-10, but ISU firmly put the momentum in its favor in the third quarter by scoring quickly on its first two possessions with touchdown runs of 60 and 48 yards from Bell. Those touchdowns put ISU up 24-10 less than five minutes into the second half.
However, the Bulldogs continued to battle and got inside the ISU 5-yard line on its next two drives. Unfortunately for Drake, neither of those redzone trips resulted in points, but rather a missed field goal and an inspired ISU goal-line stand. A 35-yard ISU field goal with less than four minutes to play gave the Sycamores the final 17-point cushion.
"We didn't execute and when you're playing a really good team, you've got to execute," Creighton said. "We left a lot out there offensively with opportunities to score. Whenever we executed, we moved the ball down the field."
Drake executed early by scoring on its first drive courtesy of a 21-yard field goal from Spencer Lee (Johnsont, Iowa) that capped an 11-play, 76 yard drive. The Bulldogs held that advantage until midway through the second quarter when ISU got on the board with 22-yard touchdown pass from Mike Perish to Demory Lawshe.
Drake answered that score with one of its own on its next drive as a 41-yard pitch and catch from Piatkowski to Gary Scott, Jr. (Forsyth, Ill.), put the Bulldogs inside the ISU 10-yard line to set up a 7-yard Piatkowski to Rosa touchdown.
An ISU field goal as time expired at the half sent the teams into the locker room tied.
Drake, coming off of back-to-back games against nationally ranked opponents, returns home next weekend to begin the defense of its 2011 Pioneer Football League championships. The Bulldogs host Morehead State on Saturday, Sept. 22, at 1 p.m. inside Drake Stadium.
Last season, Drake defeated MSU, 41-26, on the road after holding a slim 16-13 margin at halftime.