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This Week: The Ferris State University football team hits the road to face the defending Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) champions in the Ashland Eagles this Saturday (Sept. 21) night at AU's Jack Miller Stadium in Ashland, Ohio. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. (ET). It will mark FSU's first visit to the stadium, which opened in 2009, and first trip to Ashland since a 25-24 road win in 2008 at Community Stadium.
The Opponent: The Eagles captured the GLIAC title a year ago and reached the NCAA Division II Playoffs under head coach Lee Owens as they finished with a 11-1 overall record. Ashland has dropped each of its first two outings against tough competition as they fell on the road at a returning playoff qualifier in Indianapolis 10-9 followed by last week's 34-22 loss at Wayne State. The two teams met last season for the first time since 2009 in Big Rapids with AU recording a 47-32 win (9/15/12).
Key Note: Ashland dropped out of the national rankings this past week after a loss to Wayne State. The Eagles were ranked heading into each of their last two matchups with FSU as they came in at 22nd nationally a year ago. AU was listed 23rd overall when the two teams met in 2009.
Media Coverage: Saturday's game will be carried live locally by the Bulldog Sports Network and Sunny 97.3 FM with Rob Bentley handling the play-by-play duties and Sandy Gholston offering color commentary. The contest will also be streamed with free live audio at FerrisStateBulldogs.com. Links for all media coverage will be posted on FSU's official athletics website.
Follow On Twitter: In addition to radio and internet coverage, Bulldog fans can also follow Saturday's contest and all other FSU games this year with live scoring updates on several official social media platforms. Visit www.twitter.com/FerrisFootball to follow the tweet-by-tweet coverage with periodic scoring updates or visit www.facebook.com/FerrisFootball.
The Records: Ferris State is currently 1-1 overall following an exciting 56-49 league home win over Lake Erie last Saturday (Sept. 14) before more than 3,500 fans at FSU's Top Taggart Field. The Bulldogs opened 2013 with a 56-10 road setback at two-time defending FCS National Champion North Dakota State (Sept. 7) before a sellout crowd of nearly 19,000 fans at the Fargodome. FSU posted a 7-4 overall mark a season ago and was 6-4 in Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) play in the first season under head coach Tony Annese. The Bulldogs won three of their initial four games and also finished the year by winning three of their last four outings in 2012.
Ashland is currently 0-2 overall after last Saturday's 34-22 setback in its league opener to Wayne State in Detroit. AU posted a 11-1 overall record to go with a 10-0 league mark en route to the 2012 GLIAC Championship and an NCAA Division II National Playoff appearance.
The Coaches: Ferris State – Tony Annese (Alma, 1983), 2nd season, 8-5-0 (.615) – (0-1-0 vs. AU). Annese recorded a 195-41 (.826) mark as a head coach in four stops at the high school level before totaling a 30-4 (.882) record in three years as the head coach at Grand Rapids Community College. His overall career mark is 233-50 (.823) to date and includes three prep state championships and two national JUCO crowns.
Ashland - Lee Owens (Bluffton, 1977), 10th season, 66-36-0 (.448); Career: 19th season, 106-97-0 (.522) - (4-3-0 vs. Ferris State). Owens previously served as head coach at NCAA Division I Akron (Ohio) from 1995-2003 and guided the Zips to a share of the Mid-American Conference (MAC) East Division title in 2000.
National Player Of The Week: Ferris State University sophomore quarterback Jason Vander Laan was tabbed as this week's National Offensive Player of the Week by D2football.com and Beyond Sports Network along with being chosen as the GLIAC Offensive Player of the Week. He accounted for seven touchdowns in last week's win over Lake Erie while rushing for a career-high 279 yards and four scores. He was also 14-of-23 in the air for 170 yards and three scores with no interceptions or sacks. He averaged 10.3 yards per carry in the contest, including a 63-yard TD run.
Under The Lights: Ferris is 44-56-4 (.442) in evening games (after 5 p.m. ET) going back to 1961. The Bulldogs are 15-30-2 (.340) on the road and 29-26-2 (.526) at home during that period.
Big Rush: Presently, Jason Vander Laan's 279 total yards rushing versus Lake Erie ranks as NCAA Division II's second-highest single game performance of the season and he's presently tied for third in the nation with 379 total rushing yards this campaign, which is tops among all QB's in the country. He also leads the GLIAC in rushing to date this year. His 279 total yards on the ground were the most by a Bulldog rusher since Andrew Terry established a NCAA record with 410 yards rushing on 38 carries against Findlay in 2004 (10/2/04) at Top Taggart Field.
Moving Up The Charts: FSU's Jason Vander Laan climbed into 15th place all-time on the school career rushing list versus Lake Erie and now has 1,717 total yards. He needs only 125 more yards on the ground to catch C.J. Van Wieren (2004-07) and become the school's all-time career leader in rushing yardage by a quarterback. Additionally, he currently ranks 16th in school history in passing yardage with 1,719 total yards and is 114 shy of catching Steve Duchon (1973-76) for 15th place. Interestingly enough, he's only 464 yards away from 14th place all-time, which is presently held by current FSU wide receivers coach Sparky McEwen, who totaled 2,183 passing yards in his Bulldog career. Vander Laan also ranks 12th in school history with 3,436 career yards of total offense.
Bulldog Preview: Expectations are high at Ferris State in year two under head coach Tony Annese. The Bulldogs posted a 7-4 overall mark in his debut season last fall (2012) and FSU ranked among the nation's top 10 teams in both rushing offense and total offense.
The Bulldogs recorded several impressive wins under Annese's direction a year ago, including beating archrival Grand Valley State in the Anchor-Bone Classic for the first time since 1999, snapping a 10-year losing streak to Michigan Tech and topping defending national runner-up Wayne State for the first time in five years. FSU also managed to win seven games for only the second time in the past decade despite facing one of the nation's two toughest schedules in Division II football during the regular-season, according to the Massey Ratings.
Ironically, the Bulldogs' most recent contest prior to this season's opener inside the Fargodome at North Dakota State also took place in a domed venue as the Bulldogs concluded 2012 in memorable fashion by beating Northern Michigan 32-31 last fall (Nov. 10) as Annese's squad went for the win and successfully completed a two-point conversion with nine seconds remaining in regulation rather than electing to kick an extra point to force overtime at the Superior Dome in Marquette.
Besides putting together an impressive debut season with the Bulldogs, Annese and his staff also inked what is considered to be the nation's top incoming recruiting class this winter in Division II football, according to FootballScoop.com.
GLIAC Preseason Poll: The Ferris State University football team was selected to finish third in the 2013 GLIAC Football Coaches Preseason North Division Poll, which was released Monday (Aug. 26) in conjunction with the launch of the GLIAC Football Media Day website. The Bulldogs received 69 points along with one first-place vote in the balloting, which was conducted by the conference's 15 head coaches. This year marks the third time the league's preseason gridiron poll has been seperated by divisions. In the North Division, Grand Valley State was picked first with 94 points and six first-place votes, Saginaw Valley State was second with 87 points and six first-place votes. Ashland was chosen to win the GLIAC South.
AFCA Division II Poll: The Bulldogs were among eight teams from the conference ranked or listed as receiving votes in the 2013 American Football Coaches Association Preseason Division II Coaches' Poll. Ashland was ninth, Grand Valley State 14th along with Saginaw Valley State University 22nd in the nation. Five other GLIAC teams were listed in the "Others Receiving Votes" category including Michigan Tech, Ferris State, Hillsdale, Ohio Dominican and Wayne State.
Ohio Stretch: Last Saturday's game against Lake Erie was the first of three in a row for the Bulldogs versus Ohio schools out of the GLIAC South Division. FSU swept four Ohio teams in 2010 and beat three of four in the 2011 campaign before topping two of three a year ago. This week, FSU opens the first of back-to-back weeks as the Bulldogs travel to Walsh next week (Sept. 28).
National Statistics Leaders: The Bulldogs are currently eighth in the nation and second in the GLIAC in rushing offense (314.5 ypg.). FSU also ranks seventh nationally in punt return defense and 13th in sacks allowed. Individually, Jason Vander Laan is the nation's third-leading rusher (379 yards) while A.J. McEwen is fourth in interceptions (2), Carlton Johnson is 12th in sacks (3) and Marvin Robinson ranks 15th in total tackles (12.5).
Big Return: Ferris State's Dontae Ingraham nearly returned a kickoff against Lake Erie last Saturday for a touchdown. He had an 88-yard return on the play to the Storm four-yard line, which helped lead to a TD run by Jason Vander Laan on the next play that gave FSU a 35-27 lead late in the third period. FSU has not had a kickoff return for a touchdown since former defensive back Jim Skodak took one 85 yards to the house in a 17-14 road win at Northern Michigan in 2004 (10/16/04). Despite coming up just short on the kickoff return, Ingraham scored his first Bulldog touchdown by catching a 23-yard TD pass from Jason Vander Laan in the opening quarter.
Last Trip To Ashland: A potential game-winning 32-yard field goal try by the nationally 24th-ranked Eagles was blocked as time expired as FSU pulled out a thrilling 25-24 GLIAC road win in its last trip to Ashland in 2008 (9/6/08). The Bulldogs scored in the closing minute, but a long kickoff return led to the potential try from Greg Berkshire. However, it was blocked by FSU linebacker Kevin Noe as time expired as FSU preserved the upset road win. It was the fourth-straight victory for the Bulldogs in Ashland at the old Community Stadium.
Two Interceptions: Ferris State junior cornerback A.J. McEwen, who moved from wide receiver last spring, had the first two interceptions of his Bulldog career in the second half versus Lake Erie. Both proved critical as the Bulldogs pulled out the win. McEwen ranks fourth in the nation to date and leads the GLIAC with the two picks this year.
The 105th Season: The 2013 campaign represents the Bulldogs' 105th season of varsity competition. The program actually began in 1900, but no football was played in 1908-09, 1917-18, 1932 and from 1942-45 for various reasons. Additionally, no scores are available from either the 1912 or 1916 seasons. Ferris has posted an all-time record of 386-434-40 (.472) to date heading into this week's matchup.
Interesting Fact: Ferris holds a 39-45 (.464) all-time record against teams from the state of Ohio in school history. The Bulldogs have played 13 schools from the Buckeye state and have fared the best against those teams now competing in the GLIAC. FSU holds a 11-11 mark versus Findlay and is 9-14 overall against Ashland. The Bulldogs also own four wins (4-6) over Ohio Northern, Lake Erie (4-0) and Tiffin (4-0) while posting multiple wins versus Cedarville (2-0) and Ohio Dominican (2-0). FSU has topped Walsh, Wilmington and Defiance once each in the program's history. Ferris' worst mark is against Central State, which owns a 7-0 record against the Bulldogs although the two teams have not met '86.
Evening Football: Ferris State's first four contests of the 2013 season and five of the opening six contests will be evening games this campaign. Three of the outings are on the road with two at home. After the opening six-game stretch, the remaining five regular-season games will be afternoon starts at various times.
Coming Up Next: Ferris continues GLIAC play next week by visiting Walsh for the first-time ever on Saturday (Sept. 28) in Canton, Ohio. Kickoff for the contest is scheduled for 6 p.m. (ET) at historic Fawcett Stadium, which is the site of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Year Two Under Annese: A proven winner at all of his previous coaching stops and highly-regarded across the country, Tony Annese will direct the Bulldogs for the second time this fall. He came to FSU following three impressive years as the head coach at Grand Rapids Community College, which came on the heels of a highly successful 25-season stint at the prep level. He owns an overall career head coaching record of 233-50 (.823) after the first two games of the 2013 campaign and was 30-4 (.882) as a junior college head coach at GRCC.
The Environment: Besides facing one of the nation's top collegiate football programs, the Bulldogs also took the field in week one in front of one of college football's most passionate fan bases at North Dakota State. More than 100,000 fans a year pass through the Fargodome to watch the Bison, ranking North Dakota State in the top 10 nationally for attendance in the Football Championship Subdivision. Known as one of the loudest environments to play in college football, the Fargodome crowd routinely goes over 100 decibels. NDSU's home since 1993 has become of the most difficult places in the country for opponents to play and can pack in 19,000 fans for football games. BleacherReport.com named the Fargodome among its top 50 greatest college stadiums.
The Schedule: Ferris State's 11-game Bulldog football slate in 2013 features five home contests at Top Taggart Field and a 10-game GLIAC schedule. FSU will play its next two home contests versus GLIAC North Division rivals Saginaw Valley State and Grand Valley State in back-to-back weeks (Oct. 5 & 12).
The Returnees: Among the returnees for the Bulldogs this campaign are five returning all-conference honorees in quarterback Jason Vander Laan, offensive linemen Carlin Landingham and Adam Bennett, defensive lineman Corey Stone along with wide receiver Jake Lampman. They are among more than 40 letterwinners back from last season's roster. Overall, the Bulldogs return 17 starters and more than 40 letterwinners from last season.
Coaching Staff: The Bulldog staff this season feature a new defensive coordinator in Lou Esposito, who joined FSU in the spring after serving as the defensive line coach at Western Michigan. He is a former Division II head coach at St. Joseph's (Ind.). The rest of the FSU staff returns basically intact from a year ago. Rob Zeitman, who was a head coach at Grand Rapids Northview High School before moving to Ferris State, is the assistant head coach and handles the offensive line. The other full-time assistants include former Bulldog players Ryan Hodges and Sparky McEwen along with ex-Grand Valley State quarterback Ryan Brady, who is FSU's offensive coordinator this fall. Meanwhile, Brad Corpe returns to coach the running backs with Andy Tevlin guiding the defensive line and former longtime prep head coaching legend Jack Schugars working with the special teams.
Former Head Coach: Former Ferris State quarterback Charles "Sparky" McEwen joined head coach Tony Annese's staff last year as an assistant coach and directs the wide receivers. McEwen, who played for the Bulldogs from 1987-90, spent more than a decade as a professional football coach in the Arena Football League with both the Grand Rapids Ramapge and the Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz. He currently ranks 14th among the school's all-time passing leaders with 2,183 career yards. His son, A.J. McEwen, is a defensive back for the Bulldogs.
Evening Football: Ferris State's first four contests of the 2013 season will be evening games. Three of the outings are on the road. After the opening four-game stretch, the lone remaining evening game for the Bulldogs this campaign will be the Anchor-Bone Classic versus archrival Grand Valley State in Big Rapids on Oct. 12.
Did You Know?: Ferris has had a winning season in 16 of its last 24 seasons overall. The Bulldogs won five consecutive conference championship titles from 1992-96 and were league co-champions with Northwood in the 1999 season.
School Record Rushing: Ferris State well-surpassed the previous school record of 2,538 rushing yards in a season last campaign. The Bulldogs rolled up 3,369 yards on the ground in 11 games a year ago. The previous school record was established in 1995 during FSU's run to the NCAA Division II Semifinals.
Strong Ties: The Bulldogs' projected contributors on this week's two-deep also include at least 12 players who spent time in West Michigan at Grand Rapids Community College under head coach Tony Annese's direction before embarking on their Bulldog careers.
West Michigan: The Bulldogs' two deep lineup and list of potential starters includes 22 student-athletes from communities located in various parts of West Michigan such as Grand Rapids, East Grand Rapids, Big Rapids, Zeeland, Muskegon, Rockford, Greenville, Ravenna and more. Nearly 50 percent of FSU's projected starters are West Michigan natives. Besides the ties to West Michigan found among this week's potential two-deep players, the overall Bulldog roster includes more than 60 individuals and over half of the entire FSU squad from portions of West and Northwest Michigan.
Notes From NDSU Trip: Newcomer Dewayne Boston scored the Bulldogs' lone touchdown at North Dakota State in his Ferris State debut. The junior college transfer hauled in a 19-yard scoring pass from quarterback Jason Vander Laan near the end of the first half ….. The Bulldogs ran for 228 yards on the ground against a North Dakota State defense that ranked among the nation's leaders in rushing defense a year ago by allowing less than 100 yards per contest. The week before facing FSU, the Bison allowed less than 50 rushing yards to defending Big 12 Conference Champion Kansas State in a 24-21 win …… The nearly 19,000 fans on hand at the Fargodome is believed to be one of the largest crowds in which the Bulldogs have ever played in front of during school history .... Michigan transfer Marvin Robinson had a team-high 10 tackles and a diving interception at NDSU.
Offensive Statistics: Ferris State's 473.5 yards per game last season ranked as the second-highest seasonal figure in school history. The highest mark of 534.5 yards a contest came in 1999 ...... Ferris State had a school-record 289 first downs last season to top the previous single-season mark of 277 first downs set in 1995 ...... The Bulldogs' 5,209 total yards last season was the third-best mark in school seasonal history.
Conference Record: Ferris State quarterback Jason Vander Laan set a new GLIAC single-season record for rushing yardage by a quarterback as a redshirt freshman during the 2012 campaign. The rookie signal caller ran for 1,338 total yards last season with 1,235 coming in 10 league games to establish the record. The league mark for most rushing yards by a QB in conference games ONLY has been 1,128 yards by Saginaw Valley State's Jeff Klopf in 1997. Ironically, Klopf played prep football under FSU's Tony Annese prior to his collegiate career. Vander Laan's totals were also the most ever by a FSU QB in a single-year and placed sixth on the school's seasonal rushing chart.
Rookie Record: Bulldog QB Jason Vander Laan also set a new school record for most rushing yards in a single-season by any Bulldog freshman a year ago with 1,338 total yards on the ground. Former tailback Derek Fudge owned the previous mark with 1,227 yards during the 2000 campaign.
Statistics Notes: Ferris State senior kicker Austin Kantola is 15th on FSU's all-time list with six made field goals ...... The Bulldogs' A.J. McEwen ranks 11th in school history with 167 career punt return yards .... FSU's Jason Vander Laan is 16th in total passing yardage and 12th in total offense among the Bulldogs' all-time career leaders .... Jake Lampman's 717 receiving yards a year ago was 18th-best all-time in a season at FSU.
Preseason Honors: Junior receiver Jake Lampman and senior tackle Carlin Landingham were both chosen to the 2013 Detroit Free Press Michigan All-Small College Preseason First Team ..... Several Bulldog players were also ranked among the nation's best at their respective positions heading into 2013 according to the D2football.com Preseason Position Rankings compiled by the online source - Jason Vander Laan is listed 16th at quarterback, Jake Lampman is 57th at receiver, Carlin Landingham is 30th at offensive tackle, Adam Bennett was 18th at center (moving to guard this year), Corey Stone is 22nd at defensive tackle and Marvin Robinson came in 35th at safety. All were also chosen as preseason All-GLIAC picks by D2football.com.
Key Roster Note: The Bulldogs have four players currently listed on their roster who attended Manatee High School in Bradenton, Fla., which has been the nation's number one ranked high school team for several weeks over the last two seasons. The group includes sophomore slot Antonio Agurs along with three true freshmen in receiver Jajuan Pollock, defensive lineman Marquis Dawsey and defensive back Willie Smith.
Sunny 97.3: Saturday's game continues the broadcast partnership between FSU Athletics and Sunny 97.3 FM. Rob Bentley and Sandy Gholston will call the action starting with the "Bulldog Pregame" show at 6:30 p.m. Sunny 97.3 and the Bulldog Sports Network will again carry all home and away football contests this campaign with the broadcasts streamed live online at www.FerrisStateBulldogs.com.
Bulldog Sports Network: Fans can follow all the action of Ferris State football live online via the Bulldog Sports Network multimedia portal again this season. A live audio and video pay-per-view webcast will be offered for all home games with free audio for all road contests. The package also includes live stats, live chat and a live blog at select times. Visit www.FerrisStateBulldogs.com for more info.
Home Ticket Information: Season and single-game tickets for the 2013 home campaign are currently on sale now. Fans are encouraged to buy tickets in advance this season for a discount over the normal gameday rates. For more info on ticket sales, please contact the FSU Athletics Ticket Office at (231) 591-2888 or www.FerrisStateBulldogs.com.
Bulldog Gameday: Complete information on every Bulldog home and road contest this year can be found by visiting the Bulldog Gameday page on the FSU Athletics Website at www.FerrisStateBulldogs.com (click on football and then Gameday). The Gameday information, which will be updated several days prior to each game, includes links to all pertinent notes and statistics for both teams as well as links for the respective broadcast and internet media coverage available for the contest.
Yearbook Available Online: The 2013 Ferris State University Football Yearbook is available to view as an online publication. The publication features such information as 2013 player rosters, season outlook, player biographies, coaching staff information, 2012 season statistics, career and season statistical records, series records, game records, etc. Visit the FSU athletics website at www.FerrisStateBulldogs.com to find the publication online.
More Media Coverage: Ferris State Football will be featured throughout the year as part of the "Bulldog Sports Update", which will air Monday thru Friday at 7:30 a.m. (ET) on Sunny 97.3 FM. Additionally, the football team will also be featured at various times on "Ferris State Friday's", which can be heard at 7:30 a.m. (ET) on Grand Rapids' WBBL as part of "The Rundown with Doctor & Bentley". The host is hosted by Tim Doctor and former NFL linebacker Ray Bentley. His son, Jake Bentley, is a member of the Bulldog football team. Additionally, head coach Tony Annese will make regular weekly appearances during the season on the Ferris Sports Update TV show, which is available across Northern Michigan on Fox 32 along with Comcast Xfinitiy in Michigan and other sources, including online at FerrisStateBulldogs.com.