Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University football team gave nationally number-one ranked archrival Grand Valley State all it could handle in the Anchor-Bone Classic on Saturday (Sept. 19) night at Top Taggart Field, but in the end the Lakers pulled out a hard-fought 17-10 triumph to remain unbeaten.
GVSU scored the game-winning touchdown with 4:13 to play on a nine-yard scoring toss from senior quarterback Brad Iciek to Mike Koster to cap a 56-yard drive in eight plays. The Lakers then stopped FSU on fourth down at its own 44-yard line with 1:51 remaining and ran out the clock to secure the win before a crowd of 4,290 fans in Big Rapids.
"Our guys came out and played hard and battled to the end," said FSU head coach Jeff Pierce. "I'm proud of their efforts and we showed we are a much better football team than we did a week ago.
"Its hard to get that close and not be able to pull it out, but we did a lot of good things and gave it what we had," he added.
The Lakers scored the first 10 points of the game before the Bullogs battled back to score 10-straight and knot the contest up with 12:44 remaining in the fourth quarter on a two-yard run by redshirt freshman tailback Tyler Thomas. His score finished a Bulldog drive covering 80 yards on only four plays, highlighted by a 74-yard pass play from senior quarterback Kyle Parrish to sophomore receiver Aaron Olman that gave FSU the ball inside the Laker five-yard line.
Grand Valley grabbed the game's first lead with an eight-play, 77-yard drive with Iciek and Koster connecting for the TD from five yards away with 4:53 left in the first frame. The Laker lead increased to 10-0 on a 22-yard field goal from Justin Trumble with 7:22 remaining in the initial half.
Ferris scored its first points of the game on a career-long 45-yard field goal from sophomore kicker Shawn Snoor with 5:15 to play in the first half. From that point on, the game remained scoreless until Thomas' two-yard run tied the game up in the fourth period for FSU.
The Lakers compiled 23 first downs in the game to 10 for FSU and totaled 400 yards offensively in the game. GVSU had 214 yards on 43 rushing attempts and Iciek completed 16-of-27 passes for 186 yards.
Ferris ran for 108 yards on 36 carries and connected on four-of-10 passes for 102 yards in the game for 210 yards of total offense.
The lone turnover of the game was a costly Laker fumble late in the first half at the FSU five-yard line that was forced by FSU redshirt freshman defensive end Jordan Morgan and recovered by Bulldog senior linebacker Nick Butler with only 48 seconds left in the half.
Sophomore back David Freeman paced the Bulldogs on the ground with 70 yards on 11 carries and Thomas added 45 yards on 10 attempts. Parrish threw for all 102 yards on four-of-nine passing as the Bulldogs utilized a variety of formations offensively with Parrish, Freeman and sophomore quarterback Tom Schneider all taking direct snaps from center. Olman hauled in two catches for 86 yards to lead the receiving game.
GVSU was led on the ground by senior back James Berezik, who rambled for a game-high 178 yards on 29 carries. P.T. Gates chipped in with 50 yards rushing. Koster caught a game-high six catches for 51 yards and two scores. Berezik had four receptions for 22 yards out of the backfield.
Defensively, the Bulldogs were led by Butler and junior defensive tackle Jacob Moreno, who both had nine stops apiece. Moreno had a stop for loss along with a quarterback hurry and a pass breakup. Butler also had a tackle for loss in addition to his fumble recovery. Redshirt freshman Jonathan Bryant added eight tackles with a forced fumble.
Jacob McGuckin finished with nine tackles to lead GVSU with seven coming as solo stops. He also netted three tackles for a total loss of eight yards.
The win was GVSU's ninth-straight victory in the series' and the Lakers' 46th consecutive regular-season victory. Grand Valley State has now won 43 GLIAC games in a row dating back to 2004 and are 76-3 in their last 79 contests.
Saturday's contest was the Lakers' closest of the season and its most narrow victory since beating Ashland 48-42 at home in regular-season play last campaign (10/25).
Ferris State dropped to 1-3 overall and 0-3 in conference action this season with the setback while the top-ranked Lakers improved to 4-0 overall and 3-0 in the GLIAC with the win.
FSU next ventures to Michigan's Upper Peninsula for a league tilt Saturday, Sept. 26, against the Northern Michigan Wildcats in Marquette, Mich. Kickoff for the GLIAC contest is set for 4 p.m. (EDT) inside NMU's Superior Dome.
The Bulldogs will then square off against the Michigan Tech Huskies on Saturday, Oct. 3, in the "Battle At The Ballpark" to be played on the home field of Minor League Baseball's West Michigan Whitecaps at Fifth Third Ballpark in Comstock Park starting at 7 p.m. (EDT).
Bulldog Bites: FSU's Nick Butler was chosen as the Bulldogs' Babb Ford Player of the Game for his efforts ... The Bulldogs finished only two-of-10 on third down conversions compared to GVSU's seven-of-13 showing ... GVSU was three-of-four in the red zone and Ferris scored on its only trip inside the 20-yard line ... The second annual "Blues & BBQ" Tailgate event was held prior to the game ... The Anchor-Bone Trophy is presented by Huntington Bank to the game's winner each season.