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Big Rapids, Mich. – The Ferris State University football team treated its fans to a "homecoming" victory on Saturday (Oct. 9) afternoon as the Bulldogs won their fifth consecutive contest with a 23-10 triumph over Findlay at FSU's Top Taggart Field.
With the win, the Bulldogs improved to 5-1 overall and remain unbeaten in Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) play with a first-place 5-0 league mark.
"We found a away to get another win and that's going to be critical for us down the stretch as the competition continues to get tougher," FSU head coach Jeff Pierce said. "I give credit to these other teams. Sometimes takes a little time to get in a groove offensively and that's certainly what happened today."
The visiting Oilers proved to be better than their record early in the game as they march 79 yards on 10 plays while chewing up the first 5:23 of action to score on the game's first possession. Quarterback Zach Tate found receiver Dustin Zielaskiewicz for a 27-yard touchdown toss to cap the drive at the 9:37 mark of the first period.
The Bulldogs finally answered with a 78-yard drive of their own on 11 plays to pull back within a single point on junior quarterback Tom Schneider's (Jerome/Addison) 25-yard scoring run with 6:20 to play in the second quarter. However, the Bulldogs missed the PAT kick.
Findlay took a 10-6 halftime edge as Cameron Stevens connected on a field goal from 32-yards away with only 22 seconds left in the opening half to finish a 55-yard Oiler drive in 13 plays.
The Bulldogs, though, responded after the halftime break and scored the game's only points of the final half.
FSU took the lead for good as Schneider found paydirt from 19-yards out with 12:54 to play in the third period after a 70-yard Bulldog drive that took six plays.
Sophomore kicker Catlin Porter (Midland) gave Ferris a 16-10 edge with 1:01 to play in the third stanza by hitting a 32-yard field goal following a 34-yard drive in eight plays.
The final Bulldog TD came from sophomore running back Dwayne Williams (Saginaw/Heritage) with 10:36 left in the contest . FSU needed only 33 yards and five plays to reach the endzone on its final scoring drive.
"Our defense has kept us in the game until we've been able to get rolling offensively," said Schneider. "We made some adjustments at halftime and just executed better as the game wore on."
Overall, the Bulldog offense rolled up 456 yards of total offense and had 23 first downs compared to only 12 for the Oilers. Findlay managed 210 offensive yards, but had only 21 in the second half.
"Our defense is gaining confidence and meshing together as a group," Pierce said. "They're playing well together and that's nice to see."
Schneider completed 24-of-32 passes for 252 yards in directing the Bulldog offense. He also ran for 57 yards on nine carries with two scores.
Junior receiver Damien Miller (Elsie/Ovid-Elsie) caught a game-high seven receptions for 67 yards. Senior receiver Chris Wilson (Hingsville, Ga./Long County) added five catches for 83 yards while junior Mike Ryan (Howell) made five grabs for 44 yards. Nine different Bulldog players caught passes in the contest.
Williams added 57 yards on five carries while junior Aaron Olman (Grandville) had four rushes for 36 yards for FSU.
On the opposite side, Monterae Williams paced Findlay with a game-best 138 rushing yards on 30 carries. Zielaskiewicz caught all six Findlay receptions for 77 yards and a score. Tate was six-of-15 in the air and was intercepted once.
Defensively, the Bulldogs were led by senior linebacker Matt Ryan's (Howell) team-high 12 tackles. He added an interception. Senior defensive tackle Jacob Moreno (Holt) chipped in with 11 tackles to go with two quarterback hurries, a pass breakup and a sack. Junior linebacker Tayo Moss (South Rockwood/Monroe St. Mary's) added 10 stops while Kenny Klatt paced Findlay with a game-high 13 tackles.
The Bulldogs finished the game with four tackles for loss and two quarterback sacks in addition to the interception. They also hurried the QB five times and broke up three passes.
Findlay dropped to 1-5 overall and 1-4 in the GLIAC with the loss.
Ferris State will try to keep its winning streak alive as the Bulldogs venture north to Michigan's Upper Peninsula next Saturday, Oct. 16, to face the Northern Michigan Wildcats. The league contest is set for a 1 p.m. (EDT) kickoff at NMU's Superior Dome in Marquette.
Bulldog Bites: FSU's current five-game winning streak represents its longest such streak in a season since winning five-straight in 2004. The Bulldogs have not won six in a row since last making the NCAA Division II Playoffs in 1996 …….. A crowd of 3,533 fans were on hand for the homecoming game …….. FSU lost two fumbles in the game in addition to a missed field goal and a missed PAT ……….. The Bulldogs converted four-of-seven times inside the red zone and were eight-of-13 on third down ……. Ferris limited Findlay to a four-of-12 showing on third down …….. Ferris won its homecoming game for the first time since 2006 ……. FSU improved to 11-10 all-time versus the Oilers and avenged a 43-7 setback on the road in last year's meeting …… The win was FSU head coach Jeff Pierce's 50th career victory in games played at Top Taggart Field.