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Big Rapids, Mich. - Ferris State University football fans had their first opportunity to check out first-year head coach Tony Annese's new-look attack in a game situation as the Bulldogs held their annual "Crimson & Gold" Spring Game on Saturday (April 14) afternoon at FSU's Top Taggart Field.
The White team, which was guided by Volunteer Assistant Coach Bart Estola, converted on a big third down play in the closing seconds to pull out an exciting 68-64 win over the Crimson team in a modified scoring system.
The game was played primarily under normal operating rules with additional points awarded for first downs by the offense along with three-and-out's and turnovers on the defensive side. Players were drafted to both squads with seperate caoching staffs for each squad. Longtime prep football coach and current volunteer assistant Jack Schugars guided the Crimson team.
The Crimson team jumped out to an early advantage and struck first less than five minutes into the game when redshirt freshman quarterback Jason Vander Laan rambled into the endzone from seven-yards out.
However, the White team answered back and took the lead when senior tailback Dwayne Williams found the endzone from four-yards out at the start of the second quarter, giving the White a 30-19 advantage.
The White squad increased its edge to 50-30 at halftime as sophomore Jamaal Jackson reached the endzone on a 22-yard scoring run late in the period with Austin Kantola providing the PAT.
It didn't take long for the Crimson team to chip into the White squad's lead in the third quarter, though, as Vander Laan marched the team down the field with four consecutive first downs before throwing an eight-yard TD pass with 5:05 to play in the third.
The White team pushed its lead back to 65-54 with less than four minutes to play in the fourth after picking up four more first downs. However, with 2:58 to play, a field-long interception return for a score by Terrence Stevens along with the point-after trimmed the margin to a single point.
Following the pick six interception return, the Crimson team defense held the White offense on the first two downs to set up a big third-down play with time running out. A stop on the final play would have given the Crimson team the victory in the modified scoring system, however, White signal caller Taylor Masiewicz hit receiver Nick Piggee on a last-second first down pass to lift the White to the win.
The Crimson & Gold Spring Game continued FSU's official spring practice season, which started March 23 and will include 15 workouts per NCAA regulations by the time spring drills wrap up this coming week.
This year's Crimson & Gold Spring game followed the annual "Big Event", an important citywide cleanup initiative that involved student organizations. More than 1,000 students participated in the effort to help clean up nearly 300 residences in the community.
All workers were invited to Top Taggart Field for the "The Big Event After Party" hosted by the Sports Communication program of the Humanities Department in the College of Arts & Sciences. The post-event celebration ran in conjunction with the spring game.
Members of the Bulldog Football team also participate din the "Big Event" cleanup effort prior to the annual spring game. The Big Event impacts hundreds of community members in the city of Big Rapids and its surrounding area. As the largest student-run community service effort in the nation, The Big Event is a one-of-a-kind volunteer effort that unifies the campus with the surrounding community in a showing of gratitude through philanthropy.