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Defense Holds Offense In Check In First Spring Scrimmage

Courtesy: Drake Athletics
Release: April 05, 2014
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The Drake University football team took to the Drake Stadium turf in full pads on a beautiful spring evening in Des Moines for its first scrimmage of spring practices. Despite flourishes from the offense, the defense prevailed by a 22-8 margin using the scoring system designated by the coaching staff.

“Our defense is playing pretty well, they’re playing really fast which is good to see. Coach Stepsis and his staff and the players are doing a fantastic job,” said Drake head coach Rick Fox.

The bulk of the defense’s scoring came via turnovers as its two interceptions accounted for 10 points. Each 3-and-out the defense secured netted the squad three points as eight combined sacks and tackles for loss set up long fields for the offense throughout the evening. The offense was awarded points for benchmarks such as first downs and 20-yard plays along with scores.

“Offensively we were doing some nice things and moving the football, but we kept hurting ourselves by turning the ball over or with penalties,” Fox said. “You can’t do that. Those are drive killers. We’ve got to clean those things up over the next two weeks.”

The offense was challenged all evening by what is shaping up to be another outstanding Drake defensive line led by veterans such as Brett Park (Olivette, Mo.) and Matt Acree (Shawnee, Kan.). The linemen accounted for four sacks and two tackles for loss, one each from Park and Acree, to keep the offense on its toes. However, that challenge promises to make the offense better throughout the spring and preseason practices.

“To be able to go against these guys every day just makes us better,” Fox said. “It’s great experience for our offensive line, quarterbacks and entire team.”

That experience showed throughout the scrimmage as the offense generated momentum late. Drake’s quarterbacks, led by veteran Andy Rice (Stevens Point, Wis.) completed more than half of their 21 attempts for 68 yards with a long of 16 yards to Michael Hudson (Urbandale, Iowa). However, they were picked off twice the first coming off a tipped ball and the second time by Bryan Pisklo (Tulsa, Okla.) who returned the ball across the 50-yard line. Running back Gary Scott, Jr. (Forsyth, Ill.) split time with Drake’s two other available veteran backs and had 27 yards on eight carries including a 15-yard dash for a first down.

“I’m really excited about our running backs and we have a lot of depth there,” Fox said. “Gary Scott is a mature player and two-year starter. Our four guys there are pretty good football players.”

The squad will have Sunday off as the coaching staff reviews film from the first scrimmage before returning to the field on Monday to continue improving leading up to the team’s annual spring game on April 19.

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