September 1, 2009

Football Weekly Game Notes: Ashland (Sept. 5)

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* This Week: The Ferris State University football team continues its season-opening homestand against the nationally-ranked Ashland Eagles this Saturday, Sept. 5, with kickoff for the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) opener set for 7 p.m. (EDT) at FSU's Top Taggart Field in Big Rapids, Mich.

* Ticket Information: Tickets will be available at the gate or for more information, contact the FSU Ticket Office at (231) 591-2888. They can also be bought online at www.starticketsplus.com. Tickets are $7 adults or $5 students (K-12), senior citizens and FSU faculty/staff. Ferris students with ID will be admitted free as will children not yet of school age.

* Media Coverage: Saturday's game will be carried live locally by WYBR (102.3 FM) with Jason DaDay handling the play-by-play duties. A live video and audio webcast will be available through B2 Networks for a charge of $7 on FSU's Athletics Website at www.ferrisstatebulldogs.com (Click on B2 Networks icon).  Live internet statistics will also be available.

* Super Saturday: The game will be part of "Super Saturday" and coincides with Big Rapids' Riverdays Festival. Several events will be held in conjunction with the game including a bean bag toss tournament starting at 5 p.m. (ET) and a classic car show at 6 p.m. (ET).  A bag pipe band will perform at halftime and the annual fireworks display will take place following the contest.

* Promotions: A number of promotions will take place during the contest including a bean bag toss tournament at 5 p.m. (EDT) and the giant slip'n'slide event at halfitme.  The game also includes in-game promotions such as Ken's Kick Contest, Birkam Football giveaway and Synder's Certificates. Gameday sponsors for the fireworks display include FSU Dining, MCO, Pioneer and Phillips Ford.

* FSU Opens With Win: Ferris State opened its 101st season of varsity action by beating the Tiffin Dragons 34-14 in a non-league game this past Saturday (Aug. 29) evening at Top Taggart Field. A crowd of 3,407 fans braved drizzly conditions throughout the contest to watch the Bulldogs roll to the season-opening win.  FSU scored 20 points in the final 4:24 of the first half to take a 27-7 halftime advantage. The Bulldogs forced four turnovers, including a 65-yard interception return for a touchdown, and totaled 322 yards of total offense in the game.

* Coming Up Next: Ferris hits the road for the first time this season by traveling to Ohio to face the Findlay Oilers on Saturday, Sept. 12, with kickoff for the GLIAC encounter set for 12 p.m. (ET) at UF's Donnell Stadium in Findlay, Ohio.

* The Records: Ferris State (1-0, 0-0 GLIAC) registered a 6-5-0 overall record in 2008 and placed seventh in the GLIAC with a 5-5 mark. The Bulldogs were 3-2 at home and 3-3 on the road a season ago. Ashland, which was ranked 15th in the 2009 American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) D2 Preseason Poll, dropped its season opener last Thursday (Aug. 27) with a 10-7 non-league road setback at nationally 13th-ranked Bloomsburg (Pa.).  AU posted a 9-4-0 overall record and reached the NCAA-II Playoffs for the second-straight year in 2008 after an 0-2 start to the season.  The Eagles were 5-2 at home a year ago and placed second in the GLIAC with a 8-2 league slate.

* The Coaches: Ferris State  - Jeff Pierce (Ferris State, 1979), 15th season, 91-64-0 (.587) - (7-5-0 vs. Ashland).  Pierce has compiled a 47-28-0 (.627) coaching mark in home encounters and is 36-22-0 (.621) in September contests to date.  Pierce, who played at Ferris (defensive back) from 1974-77, is the 12th head coach in Ferris State's history.  Ashland - Lee Owens (Bluffton, 1977), 6th season, 35-21-0 (.625); Career: 15th season, 75-82-0 (.478) - (2-3-0 vs. Ferris State).  Owens previously served as head coach at NCAA Division I Akron (Ohio) from 1995-2003 and guided the Zips to a share of the Mid-American Conference (MAC) East Division title in 2000.

* The 101st Season: The 2009 campaign represents the Bulldogs' 101st season of varsity competition.  The program actually began in 1900, but no football was played in 1908-09, 1917-18, 1932 and from 1942-45 for various reasons.  Additionally, no scores are available from either the 1912 or 1916 seasons.  Ferris has posted an all-time record of 367-408-40 (.474) to date heading into the 2009 campaign.

* Battle At The Ballpark: A highlight of the Bulldogs' 2009 campaign will come on Saturday, Oct. 3, when FSU takes on Michigan Tech in the "Battle At The Ballpark", which will be played on the home field of Minor League Baseball's West Michigan Whitecaps at Fifth Third Ballpark in Comstock Park, Mich., starting at 7 p.m. (EDT). Ferris State will be the home team for the GLIAC tilt with proceeds from the fundraising game going to help generate additional revenue for the FSU football program.  A variety of pregame events will take place in conjunction with the game.  For more information, please visit the "Battle At The Ballpark" website by clicking on the banner icon at www.ferrisstatebulldogs.com.

* Game Day Promotions: Ferris will have special game day promotions for each of its five home contests this season at Top Taggart Field.  Community Football Day was held in conjunction with FSU's first home tilt versus Tiffin (Aug. 29) and the annual Fireworks Night and Riverdays Festival coincides with game two against Ashland (Sept. 5).  The second annual Blues & BBQ pregame party will take place prior to the Anchor-Bone Classic matchup against Grand Valley State (Sept. 19).  Homecoming is set for Oct. 10 when the Bulldogs host Indianapolis. Finally, the 10th annual Hall of Fame Game will take place Oct. 31 during FSU's regular-season home finale against Hillsdale. Visit the FSU website for more information on game promotions.

* Eagles Ranked: Ashland was ranked 15th in this year's American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Preseason Poll along with 13th in the D2football.com Preseason National Poll. The Eagles were picked to finish second in the GLIAC Preseason Coaches Poll, but dropped to 23rd nationally this week in the AFCA Coaches Poll after their season-opening loss.

* Another First Game Win: Ferris State improved to 43-51-5 (.460 winning pct.) all-time in season opening tilts with Saturday's victory. The Bulldogs have now won 13 of their last 21 season openers to date, which includes six of their last 13 overall. Head coach Jeff Pierce now holds an 8-7 marks in season-opening contests. This year marks the fourth-straight year the Bulldogs have opened the season with a victory following back-to-back triumphs over both Kentucky State (2006-07) and Tiffin (2008-09).

* Team Captains: FSU's team captains for the 2009 campaign are senior right tackle Brad Bammert (Flushing) and senior quarterback Kyle Parrish (Garden Grove, Calif./Santiago) on the offensive side along with senior middle linebacker Nick Butler (Midland) and senior safety Chad Wilson (Howell) on the defensive side.

* Non-League Win: FSU also improved to 9-7-0 (.563) in non-league games dating back to 1990 with the win over Tiffin. Ferris has currently won six of its last eight such outings. Since 1990, the Bulldogs are 3-0-0 (1.000) at home in non-league games as 11 of their last 14 non-conference games have been away from home.

* Conference Openers:  Ferris State is 10-18-1 (.362) in conference openers since 1980 and sports a 5-11-0 (.313) home mark in those outings during that period. The Bulldogs dropped a 42-23 league-opening decision to Mercyhurst two years ago (9/8/08) at home before beating Ashland 25-24 last season (9/6/08) in the GLIAC opener at Ashland, Ohio.

* Tiffin Game Notes: 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 ..... Junior outside linebacker Kyle Fitzpatrick (Vestaburg) was honored as the Babb Forb "Bulldog Player of the Game" for his performance.

* GLIAC Player Of The Week: Ferris State University junior outside linebacker Kyle Fitzpatrick was honored as this week's Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Defensive Player of the Week for the first time in his career following Saturday's contest versus Tiffin. The 6-2 Fitzpatrick tallied five tackles with four solo stops to go with a sack and a tackle for loss against the Dragons. He also provided one of the game's biggest highlights with his 65-yard interception return for a touchdown late in the second quarter of the contest. A two-year letterwinner, Fitzpatrick has netted 25 tackles in 23 career outings at FSU to date.  The interception was the first of his career.

* Under The Lights: Ferris is 34-46-4 (.429) in evening games going back to 1961. The Bulldogs are 12-23-2 (.351) on the road and 22-23-2 (.489) at home during that period.

* Important Fact: The 2008 campaign marked only the second time in the last 12 seasons the Bulldogs have opened the year with a 2-0 record. FSU also won its first two games in 2006 en route to an 8-3 overall finish. Prior to the last 12 years, the Bulldogs won at least two games in a row to start each season from 1993 to 1996, but have not won two games to open the year in back-to-back campaigns since that stretch heading into Saturday's contest against Ashland.

* First Scores: FSU's four touchdowns against Tiffin all came from four different players who tallied their first collegiate scores in sophomore tailback David Freeman (Westland/Wayne Memorial), freshman slot Troy McClary (Punta Gorda, Fla./Charlotte), Kyle Fitzpatrick and redshirt freshman back Tyler Thomas (Jackson).  Freeman made his first career start in the backfield versus Tiffin after playing the slot last fall while McClary is a true freshman and Thomas a redshirt freshman transfer.

* First Interception: Ferris senior safety C.J. Lee (Lockport, N.Y.) registered the first interception of his Bulldog career in the win over Tiffin. Lee has played in 20 games over his three seasons with the Bulldogs and made his seventh career start against the Dragons.

* First Game Jitters: The Bulldogs had 23 players make their first appearance in a FSU uniform during last Saturday's season-opener against Tiffin. The total included five true freshmen with four slot players in Alan Freeman (Westland/Inkster), Troy McClary, Skyler Stoker (Jackson/Grass Lake) and Stephen Gardner (Massillon, Ohio/Jackson) along with punter Mitchell Voss (Valparaiso, Ind./Wheeler).

* First Time Starters: Nine different players started their first games in a Bulldog uniform against Tiffin. The total included five on the defensive side of the ball and four on offense.  Among the starters was senior Kevin Ward (Commerce/Lakeland), who hit the field for the first offensive play as FSU utilized a tight end in the formation.

* Close Calls Last Year:  Five of Ferris' six wins last campaign were decided by seven points or less. The Bulldogs scored the go-ahead TD in the final 37 seconds of four of those contests - at Ashland (Sept. 6), vs. Northern Michigan (Sept. 27), at Indianapolis (Oct. 11) and vs. Northwood (Oct. 25). Seven of FSU's 10 outings last season were determined by 14 points or less and the Bulldogs finished 6-1 in those contests. Ferris was 5-0 in games decided by seven points or less.

* Preseason Listings: D2football.com had the Bulldogs picked seventh in their preseason league listing this year.

* Good Streak: The Bulldogs have presently emerged victorious in eight of their last nine games determined by a touchdown or less dating back to a thrilling 44-41 league home win (9/22/07) over Hillsdale. FSU has won seven-straight such contests and the squad's only setback in games decided by less than seven points over the last two years was a 37-35 homecoming loss to Ashland in 2007 (10/20).

* Great Start Last Fall: FSU started the 2008 season with a 3-0 mark prior to a loss at archrival Grand Valley State (Sept. 20). The 3-0 start was FSU's second such start in the last 13 years along with the 2006 campaign when they won their first three outings before losing at Hillsdale in week four (29-27). Prior to 2006, FSU hadn't won three in a row to open a season since the 1996 campaign when they made their last trip to the NCAA-II Playoffs. The 2008 season marked the 10th time in 100 seasons the Bulldogs had started the year with three consecutive victories.

* Top Taggart Field:  Ferris State is 88-61-2 (.589) at Top Taggart Field since 1980 and sports a 73-50-2 (.592) conference home ledger during that span. The Bulldogs are 67-34-2 (.660) overall since 1990, which includes a 59-31-2 (.652) league record at home. The facility features a recently-installed Mondo Ecofill playing surface, which is the first of its kind in Michigan and came as part of a $1 million dollar renovation to the facility prior to the 2008 season.

* Training Camp Notes: Ferris' officially opened fall camp Wednesday, Aug. 5, as the squad's freshmen reported to campus for the first time. The Bulldogs' returning veterans reported Thursday, Aug. 6, with the squad's first official practice held Friday, Aug. 7. Prior to the Tiffin game, FSU had held 25 total workouts along with two scrimmages. Ferris' three-week training camp period not only featured practices and scrimmages, but also meetings, lifting, conditioning, testing and various orientation sessions. FSU's final preseason scrimmage was held on Aug. 21. Classes at Ferris State University began on Monday (Aug. 31).

* Did You Know?: Ferris has had a winning season in 14 of its last 20 seasons and in nine of head coach Jeff Pierce's 14 years at FSU.  The Bulldogs won five consecutive conference championship titles from 1992-96 and were league co-champions with Northwood in the 1999 season.

* Tough Go: Ferris holds a 29-41 (.414) all-time record against teams from the state of Ohio in school history. The Bulldogs have played 10 schools from the Buckeye state and have fared the best against those teams now competing in the GLIAC.  FSU holds a 10-9 mark versus Findlay and is 9-12 overall against Ashland.  The Bulldogs also own four wins (4-6) over Ohio Northern, are unbeaten versus Cedarville (2-0) and Tiffin (2-0) and have topped both Wilmington along with Defiance once each in the program's history.  Ferris' worst mark has come against Central State, which owns a 7-0 record against the Bulldogs although the two teams have not met since 1986.  The Bulldogs have won each of their last four meetings versus Ohio schools after sweeping Tiffin, Ashland and Findlay to start the 2008 campaign prior to Saturday's victory over Tiffin in the season opener.

* Did You Know?: The Bulldogs' 8-3-0 overall mark in 2006 represented the program's best mark since Ferris recorded a 10-2-0 overall record and reached the NCAA-II National Quarterfinals in 1996.

* GLIAC Coaches Poll: Ferris was selected to finish seventh in the 2009 GLIAC Football Coaches Preseason Poll, which was released during the GLIAC's annual football media day luncheon (Oct. 3) at the Doubletree Hotel in Bay City, Mich. The Bulldogs received 66 points in the balloting, which was conducted by the conference's 12 head coaches.

* Gridiron Club Parking: As in the past, all FSU Gridiron Club members will be allowed to park in Lot 35 at Top Taggart Field on a first-come, first-serve basis. Those club members who have reached either the Gold or Champion membership levels ($500-plus) will have reserved parking space in the North Endzone of Top Taggart Field.

* Historic Milestone: Jeff Pierce became Ferris State' s all-time winningest coach in the 2004 season (9/4) as a result of the Bulldogs' 23-17 overtime conference win at Ashland.  Pierce surpassed current Hillsdale head coach Keith Otterbein (1986-94; 60-39-3) for the program's top honor.

* "Bulldog Blitz" Live Chat:  "Bulldog Blitz", a live online weekly chat covering Ferris State University football, will take place each Wednesday evening at 8 p.m. (ET) throughout the 2009 gridiron campaign. The chat, which will be powered by a service called CoverItLive, will be co-hosted by FSU Football SID Rob Bentley and local journalist Sandy Gholston. The chat will take place each Wednesday at 8 p.m. (ET) throughout the season starting on Aug. 26 with a discussion on previous contests and a preview of the week ahead. Each episode is expected to last at least a half-hour in length. In addition to comments from the show hosts, Bulldog fans will also have the opportunity to ask questions, which will be reviewed for content before they are posted by the site administrator. Fans will also be able to participate in live fan polls during the chat and view photos posted within the discussion. A unique feature of the CoverItLive service is the ability for fans to replay what has been said after the chat is over. Email reminders can also be set for those wanting to be reminded of the upcoming chat before it happens. To participate in the live chat, please visit www.ferrisstatebulldogs.com and click on the "Bulldog Blitz" banner icon found on the football page. 
 
* Bulldog Gameday: Complete information on every Bulldog home and road contest this year can be found by visiting the Bulldog Gameday page on the FSU Athletics Website at www.ferrisstatebulldogs.com (click on football and then Bulldog Gameday).  The Gameday information, which will be updated several days prior to each game, includes links to all pertinent notes and statistics for both teams as well as links for the respective broadcast and internet media coverage available for the contest.

* Yearbook Available Online: The 2009 Ferris State University Football Yearbook is available to view online in a PDF format. The 68-page publication features such information as 2009 player rosters, season outlook, player biographies, coaching staff information, 2008 season statistics, career and season statistical records, series records, game records, etc.  Visit the FSU athletics website at www.ferrisstatebulldogs.com to find the publication online.

* Follow The Bulldogs: Bulldog fans now have the ability to catch Ferris State in action even when they can't be at the stadium.  A live video and audio webcast is slated to be offered for all 2009 Bulldog home football games via an agreement with B2 Networks.  In addition, selected road games at B2 partner schools will also be available.  For more information, visit the FSU Athletics Website (www.ferrisstatebulldogs.com) and click on the B2 broadcast icon.

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