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Midland, Mich. - It wasn't meant to be for the Ferris State University football team as the Bulldogs concluded the 2010 campaign with a 41-35 setback to the Northwood Timberwolves on Saturday (Nov. 13) afternoon at Hantz Stadium in Midland.
FSU wraps up the year with a 5-6 overall record and a 5-5 mark in Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) play after winning only one game in 2009.
Ferris appeared well on its way to finishing the campaign in winning fashion as the Bulldogs took an early 14-0 lead and held a 28-14 advantage at halftime. However, Northwood battled back behind the play of sophomore quarterback Aaron Shavers and scored the winning touchdown with less than two minutes to play in the game.
"In the beginning of the game, we were rolling and the intensity level was right there with everything happenning," said FSU head coach Jeff Pierce. "It was one of those situations where we were going to take care of business and then they came back.
"They came back on us and the game came down to a shootout at the end," Pierce added. "It was so disappointing not to be able to win it, but the thing I enjoyed with this team is they continued to work hard. Just about every football game except one has come down to the wire and I don't think the struggles in the second half have come down to any lack of effort."
On Saturday, FSU struck first by driving 68 yards on the game's opening possession to take a 7-0 lead on Dwayne Williams' four-yard touchdown run with 10:53 to play in the first frame. After a Northwood fumble, the Bulldogs took a two-score lead as junior quarterback Tom Schneider found paydirt from three-yards out to make it 14-0 with 7:24 to play in the opening stanza.
Northwood responded following a long kickoff return to trim the advantage to 14-7 as Shavers capped a 42-yard march with a 23-yard scoring pass to Quillan Mathis nearly three minutes later.
FSU answered by driving 66 yards in seven plays as junior receiver John Webster reached the endzone on a 19-yard scoring run to push the lead to 21-7 late in the first quarter.
The first quarter closed, though, with Shavers running 68 yards on a quarterback keeper for Northwood to cut the margin to 21-14 after 15 minutes.
The Bulldogs scored the lone touchdown of the second quarter on sophomore Skyler Stoker's 10-yard run, which finished a 66-yard drive in five plays as FSU led 28-14 at the break.
The third quarter belonged to the Timberwolves, who scored three times in the period. They took the second half kickoff and marched 51 yards with Anthony Brandon rambling in from 30 yards away to cut the lead to seven. Then, after forcing a Bulldog punt, NU tied up the game with 8:38 to play in the third on a 43-yard keeper by Shavers.
Northwood took its first lead of the afternoon with 1:39 left in the stanza on a six-yard scoring pass from Shavers to Danny Knoll to finish a six-play, 67-yard drive.
Ferris didn't quit as FSU tied it back up at 35-35 with only 6:22 to play in the game on a 31-yard scoring pass to senior receiver Chris Wilson from redshirt freshman backup quarterback Michael Buday, who replaced the injured Schneider in the second quarter and played the entire second half.
Northwood earned the victory, however, by driving 53 yards in eight plays with Cameron Jackson scoring the winning touchdown from a yard away with only 1:47 to play in the game. The Bulldogs blocked the PAT try and drove to the Northwood 27-yard line before falling short on fourth down.
The Timberwolves ran for 366 yards on the ground in rolling up 459 yards of total offense on 68 plays. Shavers ran for 137 yards on 16 tries and scored twice. He also completed eight-of-18 passes for 93 yards and two scores with Mathis catching three passes for 32 yards.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs totaled 431 yards of total offense and had 179 yards on the ground with 252 in the air. Buday threw for 197 yards on 16-of-24 passing with one TD. Seven completions went to Wilson for 123 yards and a score.
On the ground, Stoker paced FSU with 49 yards on 15 carries. Junior Damien Miller also caught five passes for 65 yards.
Senior linebacker Matt Ryan wrapped up his Bulldog career with a team-high 12 tackles while Andrew DeWeerd netted a game-high 13 stops for the Timberwolves.
Northwood also wrapped up the 2010 season with a 5-6 overall record and a 5-5 conference mark.
Bulldog Bites: Eleven Bulldog players appeared in their final games for FSU ..... FSU was four-of-four in the redzone while Northwood converted both of its chances ....... Both teams finished five-of-12 on third down ..... This year's meeting represented FSU's second consecutive trip to Hantz Stadium with Northwood winning both contests.