It was the battle of the Bulldogs at Drake Stadium Saturday night as the Drake University football team lost to Truman State, 10-7, in its 2019 home opener.

Drake (0-2) struggled to string together consistent offense against Truman State (1-0), which won its season opener behind an 87-yard kickoff return by Lawrence Woods that opened the third quarter. Truman scored its other points on a 46-yard field goal with 12:01 left in the second quarter.

“The defense was solid,” said Drake head coach Todd Stepsis. “Three points was all they really gave up. Defensively we were lights out. We tackled well, ran to the ball, forced a turnover. That was a big positive. I thought some of the time we were moving the ball effectively. We just have to sustain it over time. We have to do a better job with that.”

Alex Rogers and Zac Rujawitz combined to lead that defensive effort with 19 tackles between the pair.

Truman State was able to score early in the second quarter to take a 3-0 lead. With 7:58 left in the half, Drake’s Max Johnson pounced on a Truman State fumble to set Drake’s offense up on the Truman State 10-yard line. Quarterback Ian Corwin found wide receiver Mitch McFarlane in the endzone, but McFarlane was ruled out of bounds. Corwin was sacked on the next play to set up a field goal attempt by Ross Kennedy that was blocked.

Drake’s special teams’ struggles continued when TSU’s Jaylen Jefferson blocked a Drake punt by Kennedy, which was recovered by Truman State in Drake’s territory. The Drake defense held strong to force a field goal attempt that sailed wide right.

Truman State began the second half as Woods took the opening kick back 87 yards for a touchdown to give Truman a 10-0 lead. On Drake’s ensuing drive, Corwin was intercepted.

With 6:25 left in the third, Corwin threw a 37-yard reception to fifth-year tight end Devin Cates to bring a Drake first-and-goal. Corwin was called for delay of game on the next snap which pushed Drake back to the 20-yard line. After an incomplete pass to McFarlane, Corwin threw a completed pass to Lauer for a 10-yard Drake touchdown and Kennedy made the PAT putting Drake on the board, trailing 10-7. On Truman’s next series, Drake sophomore defensive back Danny Morales sacked TSU’s Barr on the Drake 17-yard line forcing Truman to punt.

In a tightly contested fourth quarter, the game could have gone to either team. Drake struggled to gain first downs, including late with 2:40 to go as Lauer was stopped just short of a first down on fourth-and-one as Drake tried to drive for the tying or go-ahead score. Truman took over on downs and was able to gain a first down as Drake ran out of timeouts and the clock ticked down in favor of Truman.

Cates finished with a team-leading 73 yards receiving while Steven Doran added 47. Lauer rushed for 84 yards on 22 carries. Corwin finished 16-of-34 with 205 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

Drake heads to Brookings, S.D. next weekend to face South Dakota State.

To reach Brian Rathjen, send correspondence to sports@ant-news.com or phone (712) 243-2624.