Ferris Football Upsets 16th-Ranked SVSU

The Bulldogs come after SVSU quarterback Charles Dowdell (Photo by Ed Hyde)
The Bulldogs come after SVSU quarterback Charles Dowdell (Photo by Ed Hyde)

Postgame Video Highlights
Jeff Pierce Postgame Video
Tom Schneider & Matt Ryan Postgame Video
Jeff Pierce Postgame Audio
Tom Schneider & Matt Ryan Postgame Audio (MP3)

Audio Clip: Tayo Moss Game-Saving Interception (MP3)
(Radio call by Jason DaDay & Sandy Gholston)

Big Rapids, Mich. – A game-saving interception by sophomore linebacker Tayo Moss with less than a minute left in the contest preserved Ferris State's 21-17 upset victory over nationally 16th-ranked Saginaw Valley State on Saturday (Sept. 11) evening at FSU's Top Taggart Field in Big Rapids, Mich.

Moss picked off SVSU quarterback Charles Dowdell's tipped pass with 41 seconds to play on first down as the Cardinals started a drive at the FSU 36-yard line.  The victory snapped an 11-game Bulldog losing streak dating back to the second week of the 2009 campaign and came before a crowd of 3,201 fans on "Honoring American Heroes" Day.

"It feels really good," said FSU head coach Jeff Pierce.  "In life sometimes you get knocked down and staying down in not an option.  We had a chip on our shoulders coming into the season and these guys worked themselves back into a situation where we became very competitive.

"We wanted to take that next step today and we beat a good football team," he added.  "This win gives us a good start and our guys needed that for some confidence."

The fireworks found after the game mirrored the action on the field as the two teams were never more than seven points apart throughout the entire contest, which served as the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) opener for both schools.

The Bulldogs struck first in their 2010 home opener on a 35-yard touchdown toss from junior quarterback Tom Schneider to sophomore back Skyler Stoker.  The TD pass capped an eight-play, 80-yard drive for FSU and came with 3:53 to go in the first quarter.

SVSU answered only five seconds into the second frame as Dowdell hit Andrew Beaver from seven yards away on a scoring throw to finish a 42-yard jaunt that was setup by a 47-yard kickoff return following the Bulldog score.

Saginaw Valley State took its only lead of the night with 9:28 to play in the opening half as Brandon Hayes found paydirt from four-yards out to cap a 58-yard march in seven plays.

Ferris answered with a 62-yard drive of its own to tie the contest up at 14-14 with 5:05 left in the half on Schneider's  one-yard TD pass to sophomore tight end Kevin Guirand.

One of the game's biggest plays came with only 1:29 left in the first half as FSU sophomore cornerback Antwian Windmon intercepted a Dowdell throw and returned it 26-yards for a touchdown to give the Bulldogs a 21-14 lead at the break.

The Cardinals trimmed the deficit to 21-17 with 10:27 to play in the third on Austin Borchard's 21-yard field goal, but could get no closer as the Bulldog defense stopped the Cardinals three times inside the FSU 40-yard line on SVSU's final three offensive possesions.

The first stop came near the end of the third quarter when Borchard's 30-yard field goal try was blocked and recovered by FSU sophomore defensive end Jordan Morgan.

Then, on Saginaw Valley State's next offensive possession, Dowdell drove the Cardinals inside the Bulldogs' five-yard line where SVSU was stopped on four-straight plays by the FSU defense. 

After the goal line stop, the Bulldog offense ate up nearly four minutes before being forced to punt from their own 15-yard line.  Junior Shawn Snoor's punt sailed only 21 yards, however, as SVSU took over at the Bulldog 36-yard line with only 49 seconds left in the game.  Dowdell's first down throw, though, was tipped and grabbed by Moss, giving the Bulldogs the victory.

The win gave FSU its second upset win over a ranked SVSU squad at Top Taggart Field in the last five years as the Bulldogs also recovered a fumble with the Cardinals at the Ferris two-yard line in the final minute to preserve a 26-23 win over then fifth-ranked Saginaw Valley State in 2006 (9/16/06).

"I don't even know how to put this into words after what we've been thru over the last year and a half," said Schneider.  "I'm so proud of the guys who stuck it out and this win took everybody tonight.  It feels amazing."

Ferris State held the Cardinals to only 54 yards rushing on 42 attempts and the Bulldog defense sacked Dowdell five times in addition to coming up with a blocked kick, two interceptions and a fumble recovery.

Moss led the Bulldog defense with a game-high 12 tackles in addition to a tackle for loss, sack, interception and quarterback hurry.  Sophomore linebacker Mike Elias chipped in with a career-high 11 stops and added two TFL.  Meanwhile, senior linebacker Matt Ryan totaled 10 stops for FSU.

"It's exciting and a great feeling," said Ryan.  "We had a different mentality coming in than we did last week and we knew we could get it done tonight."

Offensively, the Bulldogs managed 251 yards with 140 on the ground and 111 in the air.  Schneider completed 20-of-28 passes for 111 yards and two scores while adding 41 rushing yards on nine attempts.  Stoker had 13 carries for 49 yards and caught two balls for 34 yards.

Junior John Webster paced the FSU receivers with a team-high five catches for 19 yards while junior Damien Miller added four grabs for 31 yards and junior Mike Ryan netted four grabs for 13 yards.

SVSU finished with 349 total yards and had 23 first downs compared to 17 for the Bulldogs.  The Cardinals' Dowdell threw for 295 yards on 24-of-38 passing, but was intercepted twice in addition to the five sacks.  Beaver led the receiving game with 10 catches for 132 yards with Ronnie Lark leading the Cardinals on the ground with 53 total yards on 13 attempts.

The Bulldogs improved to 1-1 overall with this with the victory while SVSU dropped to 0-2 overall.  The Cardinals' two losses have came by a combined total of five points.

The Bulldogs will try to earn their second victory in a row as they hit the road to face GLIAC newcomer Ohio Dominican for the first-time ever on Saturday, Sept. 18, with kickoff slated for 12 p.m. (ET) in Columbus, Ohio.

Bulldog Bites:  Moss earned FSU's Bulldog Player of the Game honor sponsored by Babb Ford … The Bulldogs were seven-of-13 on third down attempts with SVSU finishing seven-of-16 overall …… FSU's offensive line gave up only one sack despite missing starting center Jake Hancock …… The game was Ferris' fourth consecutive encounter against a ranked team dating back to the final two games of the 2009 campaign ……… FSU and SVSU met for the 36th consecutive season datinb back to 1975 ……. Ferris' 21 points were its most since scoring 23 against Ashland in week two of the 2009 season …… The Bulldogs' most recent win prior to Saturday's upset was a 34-14 season-opening home win over Tiffin in non-league play in 2009 (8/29/09) …… The win was only FSU's second on the field against the Cardinals in the last eight years ...... The "Honoring American Heroes" Day event included two concerts, postgame fireworks and more as FSU recognized all first responders, military personnel and veterans during the evening.