FSU Football Drops Season Opener At Hillsdale

The Bulldog offensive line tries to provide time in Friday's contest (Photo by Rob Bentley)
The Bulldog offensive line tries to provide time in Friday's contest (Photo by Rob Bentley)

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Hillsdale,  Mich. - The nationally 16th-ranked Hillsdale Chargers proved to be too much for the Ferris State Bulldogs on Friday (Sept. 3) evening as the Chargers pulled out a 35-17 season-opening non-conference victory at HC's Frank "Muddy" Waters Stadium in Hillsdale, Mich.

Hillsdale bolted out to a 21-3 halftime edge and scored 14 points in the third quarter to put the game away before a crowd of 2,977 fans in the 42nd series' meeting between the two longtime Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) foes.

"First of all, we're disappointed that we didn't get the win," said FSU head coach Jeff Pierce.  "We have to be able to capitalize on some of those situations we found ourselves in and the bottom line was that we didn't execute well enough at times."

The Chargers struck first on the opening possession of the contest as tailback Joe Glendening capped a 60-yard drive with a five-yard scoring run only four minutes into the game.

Ferris had a chance to tie the game early in the second quarter after forcing a Charger fumble, however, Hillsdale was able to create a turnover of its own as defensive back Ben Karaba intercepted a Bulldog pass in the corner of the endzone. 

Following the interception, Hillsdale drove 80 yards and increased it's leads to 14-0 after another Glendening TD run from one-yard out at the 10:36 mark of the second quarter.  The lead then jumped to 17-0 after quarterback Troy Weatherhead found Andre Holmes from seven yards out with 5:17 left in the first half.

Ferris State scored for the first time this season as junior kicker Shawn Snoor booted an 18-yard field goal with only four seconds left in the half following a 73-yard Bulldog march.

However, Hillsdale added two third quarter scores to put the game out of reach.  The first came from Mike Blanchard on an eight-yard scoring pass from Weatherhead with 3:34 left in the frame to cap a 59-yard drive in eight plays.  After forcing a Bulldog punt, the Chargers took advantage of a long punt return and Weatherhead found tight end Bren Bergquist only three minutes later on a nine-yard strike to make it 35-3 at the end of three periods.

FSU added two fourth-quarter touchdowns to close the final margin.  Sophomore Dwayne Williams found paydirt from four yards away with 12:20 to play for the Bulldogs' first touchdown of the season.  Then, with only one minute to go, junior quarterback Tom Schneider completed a 13-yard scoring play to junior receiver Mike Ryan to account for the final margin.  Ferris' two fourth-quarter scoring drives covered 63 and 58 yards, respectively.

"We did some nice things offensively, but we've got to be able to do the things that sustain the drives like catch footballs and make the plays in the red zone to keep us in ball games," Pierce said.  "I take my hat off to Hillsdale because they're a very good football team."

The Chargers rolled up 453 yards of total offense with 126 coming on the ground.  Weatherhead completed 22-of-26 balls for 281 yards and three TD's while Glendening rambled for 88 yards rushing on 19 attempts.  Hillsdale finished with 20 first downs compared to 17 for the Bulldogs.

Schneider was 21-of-34 in the air for 176 yards in leading the Bulldog offense.  He completed eight passes to Ryan for 87 yards, including a 35-yard play and the game's final score.

Sophomore Skyler Stoker paced the Bulldogs on the ground with 43 yards on 11 carries as FSU managed 269 yards of total offense with 93 rushing and 176 passing.

Defensively, sophomore Antwian Windmon and senior Chad Wilson both netted nine tackles apiece for Ferris State while Cody Henderson posted eight stops for the Chargers.

The win was Hillsdale's fifth in the last six years versus the Bulldogs and its third consecutive triumph over FSU at Muddy Waters Stadium.

FSU will host the Saginaw Valley State Cardinals in their 2010 home opener on Saturday, Sept. 11, at Top Taggart Field in Big Rapids, Mich.  A number of special events will take place in conjunction with "Honoring American Heroes" Day.  Kickoff for FSU's first Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) tilt of the season is set for 6 p.m. (EDT).

Bulldog Bites:  Hillsdale converted all five of its scoring tries from within the red zone while FSU was three of four overall ........ Ferris managed to convert only three of 13 third down attempts ...... The two teams were whistled for a combined total of only five penalties in the game ....... Windmon and Wilson both forced a fumble for the Bulldogs ........ The loss was FSU's first on opening day in five years as the Bulldogs had won four consecutive season openers entering the game ........ The two teams have played each other every year dating back to 1972.