DES MOINES, Iowa - The Drake football team trailed early but settled in to defeat Grand View 28-8 Thursday night in front of a crowd of 4,158 in their season opener at Drake Stadium.
After going down a touchdown after a misplayed punt return, the Bulldogs took the lead when Mike Piatkowski (Wheaton, Ill.) floated a one-yard pass to wideout Nick Rosa (Owasso, Okla.). Spencer Lee (Johnston, Iowa) converted the extra point to give the Bulldogs a 7-6 lead.
The Vikings opened the scoring on the night when Neko Graf (Rascine, Wis.) fumbled a punt and the ball was recovered at the Bulldogs 10 yard line. Darius White then carried the ball in on a sweep. Grand View failed to convert the extra point however.
On the ensuing kickoff Mike Ratelle (Edina, Minn.) brought the ball to the Drake 47 to start the drive. The Bulldogs marched down the field on impressive runs from sophomore Gary Scott, Jr. (Forsyth, Ill.) and were capped with the Piatkowski to Rosa connection.
Piatkowski, the 2011 Pioneer Football League Offensive Player of the Year, went 25-41 on the night for 271 yards. He threw two touchdowns and one interception. Rosa led Drake with 68 yards on four catches. Michael Hudson (Urbandale, Iowa) had six catches for 57 yards in his first game with the Bulldogs.
The Vikings put together their best drive of the evening starting at their own 33-yard line and marching the ball all the way down to the Drake 12. The Bulldogs came up with a big stop before slicing through the line in order to block the field goal attempt.
Drake's defense shone the entire night. They held the Vikings to 241 total yards of offense with 12 tackles for a loss and nine sacks.
The Drake offense took advantage of their opponent's miscues when Scott Jr. punched in a two-yard touchdown as the time dwindled down in the first quarter. It was Scott Jr.'s first collegiate rushing touchdown, in his first official game. He also led all rushers with 110 yards on 17 carries. Junior T.J. James (Des Moines, Iowa) carried the ball 11 times for 63 yards.
Yet another special teams miscue lead to the Vikings final points of the game. In the second quarter the Bulldogs lined up to punt deep in their own territory. The snap was well over the head of Jeremy Stein (Carpinteria, Calif.) and out of the endzone for a safety.
The game stalled with neither team amounting any real threat to score for nearly two quarters. The Bulldogs again turned to special teams for help. Senior Naser Hannoon (West Des Moines, Iowa) split through the Grand View line and blocked a punt attempt. John Hugunin (Oswego, Ill.) scooped up the ball and took it to the house. Piatkowski again connected with Rosa on the two-point conversion and effectively put the game out of reach at 22-8.
Drake controlled the ball for the rest of the game and sealed the victory with a Piatkowski touchdown pass to junior Dan Hohenstein (Warrenville, Ill.).
The Bulldogs moved to 1-0 on the season with the victory and 3-0 all time against their cross-town foe. They'll return to the field next Saturday, September 8 against FCS power Montana State. The game will kickoff at 6 p.m. and tickets are available www.godrakebulldogs.com.