FSU Football Edged By MTU In Home Finale

FSU quarterback Tom Schneider runs with the ball versus Michigan Tech (Photo by Scott Whitney)
FSU quarterback Tom Schneider runs with the ball versus Michigan Tech (Photo by Scott Whitney)

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Big Rapids, Mich. – The Ferris State University football team battled to the end in its regular-season home finale versus Michigan Tech on Saturday (Nov. 6) afternoon, but came out on the short end of a 28-16 decision at FSU's Top Taggart Field.

The visiting Huskies held a 21-9 edge at halftime after stopping FSU on a key series near the end of the opening half inside the MTU 20-yard line.

Ferris cut the lead to 21-16 on a one-yard plunge from junior quarterback Tom Schneider after driving 83 yards in eight plays on the opening drive of the second half.  

That score stood up until Michigan Tech sealed the win and kept its postseason playoff hopes alive with a three-yard touchdown run by quarterback Steve Short with only 2:30 left to play in the contest.  The final MTU scoring march covered 69 yards and took eight plays.

"We faced a very good football team in Michigan Tech today and we knew that coming in," said FSU head coach Jeff Pierce.  "We had a legitimate shot to win that game today and we had a lot of opportunities we just didn't capitalize on."

Michigan Tech grabbed the early lead on the first possession of the game as the Huskies needed only four plays to drive 63 yards and score on a seven-yard scoring throw from Short to tight end Bryan LaCahapelle with 13:19 to play in the first frame.

Ferris answered at the 5:30 mark of the first quarter when Schneider found the endzone from 29-yards away on the ground to cap an 84-yard drive in 12 plays.  The extra point failed, however, MTU held a 7-6 advantage.

The Bulldogs took their only lead of the game on a 23-yard field goal from Catlin Porter with eight seconds left in the first stanza. 

However, Michigan Tech answered with two scores in the final eight minutes of the second quarter to take the 21-9 edge at the break.  The first came on a two-yard keeper by Short with 8:02 left in the half followed by a nine-yard scoring throw from Short to Matt Curtin at the 4:09 mark of the second period.

The Huskies, who were coming off a 20-17 home victory over nationally number-one ranked Grand Valley State last week, rolled up 392 yards of total offense, including 301 on the ground despite playing portions of the game without injured starting running back Phil Milbrath.  Despite missing time, he still led MTU with 115 rushing yards on 13 carries with all coming in the first half.

Short completed only nine-of-20 passes for 91 yards, but two went for touchdowns.  Pat Carroll had three grabs for 40 yards and Curtin caught two passes for 20 yards in pacing the MTU receivers.

"The breaks didn't go in our favor, but you've got to overcome those things," Pierce said. "One thing I will say is that our guys fought and battled right to the very end trying to win that game.

"I can't fault our effort, we just have to make some of those plays and we didn't today," he added.

Meanwhile, Ferris totaled 318 total offensive yards, including 203 in the air as Schneider completed 17-of-29 balls on the afternoon.  FSU also ran for 115 yards with sophomore Dwayne Williams managing a team-high 37 rushing yards on six tries.

Junior receiver Mike Ryan had a game-best eight catches for 97 yards for Ferris while senior Chris Wilson tallied three grabs for 37 yards in his final home contest.

Overall, Michigan Tech managed 21 first downs compared to 17 for the Bulldogs.  Both teams turned the ball over once in the game and FSU also missed two field goals from 33 yards or less.

The Bulldogs finished only five-of-15 on third down and were two-of-four in the red zone compared to Michigan Tech's seven-of-14 third down effort and four-of-six showing inside the 20-yard line.

The Huskies also sacked Schneider four times for a loss of 27 yards and Jesse Vandenberg paced MTU with a team-high tying nine tackles. 

The Bulldogs were led by senior linebacker Matt Ryan's game-high 15 stops while junior defensive tackle Muneer Bawayeh tallied nine tackles.  FSU, which entered the game leading the conference in sacks, got to the quarterback only once as MTU allowed a single sack.  The Huskies entered the game leading the nation in fewest sacks allowed.

The Huskies maintained their hold on second place in the GLIAC North Division standings with the victory and improved to 7-2 both overall and in league play this campaign.  FSU fell to 5-5 overall and 5-4 in the GLIAC with the setback.  Ferris could have moved into a tie for second place in the divisional standings with a win.

The Bulldogs will try to snap a four-game losing streak and conclude the 2010 season with a winning campaign next Saturday (Nov. 13) as they travel to Midland to face the Northwood Timberwolves in a 12 p.m. (ET) league tilt at Hantz Stadium.

Bulldog Bites:  Matt Ryan was tabbed as the Babb Ford Bulldog Player of the Game for his efforts …… FSU honored 11 seniors prior to their final regular-season home appearances …… Junior defensive back William Miles came up with an interception for FSU, which was his fourth pick in the last two games …… The victory was MTU's eighth consecutive win over Ferris State as the Bulldogs have not beat the Huskies since 2002 ….. Saturday's meeting was the first at Top Taggart Field between the two teams since 2006 ...... An announced crowd of 2,216 fans were on hand for the game.