Brian Mack and Zach Splain started at Drake in place of Taylor Harris and Will Bardo.
DES MOINES --- The Drake University Bulldogs capitalized on excellent field position and a big day from quarterback Mike Piatowski to defeat an out-manned University of Dayton Flyer football team, 37-14 Saturday at Drake Stadium. The win clinched at least a share of the 2011 Pioneer Football League championship for the Bulldogs.
Dayton was without its starting offensive backfield, quarterback Will Bardo and tailback Taylor Harris, along with the PFL’s interception leader, Steve Wirkus, due to injuries, but the Bulldogs played like a team with a championship within their grasp.
Wirkus’ replacement, Nick Weston gave UD an early 7-0 lead when he returned his first career interception 29 yards for a TD. Drake answered with 16 unanswered points to lead 16-7 at halftime, and then added another touchdown to take a 23-7 lead with 9:45 left in the third quarter. The Flyers responded with a 67-yard scoring drive to make it 23-14, but Drake trumped that by marching 90 yards in six plays to go back up in front by 16, 30-14 after three quarters.
Piatowski threw his fourth TD pass of the afternoon in the fourth quarter to make the final score 37-14.
Drake’s average starting field position of its own 40-yard line not only kept them within striking distance, it also kept the Flyer offense pinned back. UD’s average starting field position was its own 25, and inside its own 20 in the second and fourth quarters.
In his first start, Flyer quarterback Zach Splain was 14 of 27 for 120 yards with a touchdown. Wideout That touchdown was among Luke Bellman’s six catches for 67 yards. Dan Jacob led Dayton in rushing with eight carries for 69 yards.
Defensively, in addition to Weston’s two interceptions, cornerback Kyle Sebetic had 12.5 tackles, with 12 of them being solo tackles. Despite being double-teamed on every play, defensive end Devon Langhorst added two sacks, giving him 13.5 for the season and 27.5 for his career (the second-most in UD history).
Dayton finishes the year 6-5 overall and 4-4 in the PFL. It was the 34th winning season in the last 35 years for UD. The Flyers will take a 395 games without-being shutout-streak into the 2012 season.
UD’s seniors close out their careers with a combined record of 34 wins and 11 losses, and were part of two PFL championship teams.