Audio Clip - Head Coach Jeff Pierce
(MP3 Version) - (Windows Media)
Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University football team kicked off its 2009 campaign in convincing fashion by beating Tiffin 34-14 on Saturday (Aug. 29) evening during "Community Football Day" activities at FSU's Top Taggart Field in Big Rapids, Mich.
The Bulldogs jumped out to a 27-7 halftime advantage en route to the non-league win against the Dragons in the second-ever series' matchup between the two schools. A crowd of 3,407 fans braved sometimes rainy conditions to watch Ferris post the victory.
"It was a good opener out there for us tonight," said FSU head coach Jeff Pierce. "We made some mistakes, but overcame some of those and played with the kind of energy and commitment that we need to play with to win."
FSU opened the scoring with 2:59 to play in the opening frame on a 16-yard touchdown run by sophomore tailback David Freeman (Westland/Wayne Memorial). His TD sprint in his first career start in the backfield capped a 78-yard Bulldog march that took 10 plays.
The Dragons managed to tie the game with 9:12 to play in the opening half as Jackson Davis fell on a fumble in the endzone as the Bulldogs' punter mishandled the snap from center.
The Bulldogs, however, came back to score 20 points in the final 4:24 of the second quarter to take control of the contest. Sophomore Shawn Snoor (Dimondale/Holt) started the crucial stretch with a 26-yard field goal.
Soon after, the Bulldogs forced the Dragons to punt and freshman slot receiver Troy McClary (Punta Gorda, Fla./Charlotte) scored his first collegiate touchdown with a six-yard run to finish off a four-play, 52-yard Bulldog scoring drive.
The back-breaker may have came only four plays later when Bulldog junior outside linebacker Kyle Fitzpatrick (Vestaburg) intercepted a Steve Freeman pass and raced 65-yards for a score to push the FSU lead to 24-7. The Bulldogs tacked on another field goal from Snoor, which was from 35 yards out, with only two seconds left in the half.
In the third quarter, the Bulldogs increased their lead to 34-7 as redshirt freshman Tyler Thomas (Jackson) scampered to paydirt from 18-yards away for the Bulldogs' final score following a 56-yard drive covering 10 plays.
"It was nice to see the talent level," Pierce said. "We're very optimistic about how some of our young kids can help us and it showed tonight that we have some players out there that can do that this year."
TU finally managed to score again with 14:54 to play on a 32-yard Alvin McKnight TD run.
The Bulldogs racked up 322 total offensive yards and limited Tiffin to only 231 yards. FSU compiled 258 yards rushing on 56 attempts and completed nine-of-26 passes for 64 yards with one interception.
The Dragons finished with 153 rushing yards on 35 carries and netted 78 yards in the air on 10-of-25 passing. The Bulldogs intercepted two Tiffin passes and came up with two fumble recoveries.
Freeman led the Bulldog rushing attack with 89 yards on 13 carries, including a TD. Thomas chipped in with 61 yards and senior quarterback Kyle Parrish (Garden Grove, Calif./Santiago) totaled 58 yards on the ground in addition to 64 yards in the air.
Freeman's younger brother, freshman slot Alan Freeman (Westland/Inkster) led the Bulldogs with three catches for 12 yards and junior wide receiver Matt Schuelke (Paris/Reed City) added two grabs for 14 yards.
Chris Ivory led the Tiffin ground game with a game-high 90 yards on 13 carries and McKnight compiled 49 yards on eight attempts. David Singleton paced the Dragons in the air by completing five-of-14 passes for 54 yards. Ivory made three catches for 43 yards.
Defensively, senior middle linebacker Nick Butler (Midland) led the Bulldogs with nine tackles. Senior Matt Ryan (Howell) had eight stops to go with two pass breakups in his first collegiate start. Fitzpatrick totaled five tackles, a sack and a tackle for loss in addition to his 65-yard interception return. Arthur Allen tallied a game-high 11 tackles with 2.5 for loss in leading Tiffin.
Ferris State continues its season-opening homestand by hosting the nationally-ranked Ashland Eagles next Saturday (Sept. 5) evening with kickoff at 7 p.m. (EDT) at Top Taggart Field.
Bulldog Bites: The Bulldogs finished five-of-six in the red zone for the game ..... Big Rapids High School topped Holton 46-7 to win the first game of the Community Football Day doubleheader ..... Senior safety C.J. Lee (Lockport, N.Y.) also had an interception for the Bulldogs while senior outside linebacker Chad Schoen (Woodhaven/Gibraltar Carlson) and junior defensive tackle Jacob Moreno (Holt) both had fumble recoveries ..... FSU's four touchdowns all came from four different players who tallied their first collegiate scores in David Freeman, McClary, Fitzpatrick and Thomas ..... Fitzpatrick was honored as the Babb Forb "Bulldog Player of the Game" for his performance.