Gold Holds Off Crimson In Highly-Competitive Ferris State Spring Football Game

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Big Rapids, Mich. - A late interception from linebacker James Wimberly in the closing minute preserved a 29-24 victory for the Gold squad in a highly-competitive Ferris State University Crimson & Gold Spring Football game on Friday (April 18) before a big crowd of supporters at Top Taggart Field in Big Rapids.

Wimberly picked off a Crimson team pass across the middle on the game's final play to seal the win for the Gold, which wore the Bulldogs' white road jerseys in the annual showdown. The Crimson, wearing FSU's red home uniforms, began the drive needing at least three first downs to tie the contest in the modified scoring system, but were able to pick up only one to 
draw within 26-24 prior to the interception.

As part of the modified scoring system, each first down was worth a single point and forced turnovers resulted in three points for the defense in addition to the traditional scoring methods.

"It was a lot of fun and a close game again so that was cool to see," said FSU head coach Tony Annese, who will embark on his third season at the Bulldog helm this fall. "I thought we played really hard and this is as much for the fans and the university as it is for us. 

"All in all, I saw a lot of good things from our defense and in our running game among other areas," he added. "We had a lot of young kids who got a lot of snaps for the first time and there's a lot of them that are going to be really good."

The defense set the tone early as neither team was able to find the endzone until late in the opening half. The Gold team led 4-1 after the opening period as all five points in the opening staza came on first down pickups.

"I thought defensively we really played aggressively, gang-tackled and put a lot of pressure on the offense, so I was very pleased with that," said Annese.

Returning two-year starting quarterback Jason Vander Laan, who broke the NCAA Division II All-Time Single Season record for rushing yardage by a signal caller last fall, saw limited action directing the Gold team's offensive unit in the first period. He hooked up once with junior wideout Jake Lampman across the middle for a first down and also connected with redshirt freshman receiver Brandon Moore down the sideline as his squad reached the redzone. Junior fullback Jamaal Jackson and redshirt freshman back Jahaan Brown each had a first down carry as well in the opening stanza.

Moore pushed the Gold team lead to 5-1 early in the second frame when he hauled in a tipped pass from redshirt freshman quarterback Landon Grove, who took over for Vander Laan after the opening period. However, soon after, freshman linebacker KC Zenner intercepted a pass and the Crimson squad followed with a first down to tie the game up.

But, the Gold responded in a big way as Grove found slot receiver Phil Annese for a 51-yard scoring pass down the middle for the game's first touchdown and a 12-5 lead with only 90 seconds remaining in the first half.

After a halftime break, the Crimson team started the third period quickly. A first down run from redshirt freshman DeShun Brown along with another first-down carry from Garius Coleman put the ball in Gold team territory. However, one of the game's biggest plays followed and resulted in a huge swing on the scoreboard as sophomore-to-be Anthony Darkangelo intercepted a pass and raced 53-yards to the endzone with 16:26 to play in the third quarter.

Darkangelo's touchdown along with the three-point turnover and ensuing point-after from Phil Fiebernitz gave the Gold squad their largest lead of the day at 22-7 on the board. The Crimson team, though, kept battling and managed to cut the margin to 22-16 as DeShun Brown followed with three consecutive first-down runs before sophomore Kitwana Clark scored on a 37-yard TD run with less than seven minutes remaining in the period.

The Crimson tried to chip further into the Gold team's lead with a pair of big interceptions late in the third quarter and early in the fourth frame, but both were negated due to penalties. The first was a 25-yard interception return for a score by Brian Williams with the second a return into opposing territory from redshirt freshman defensive back Ryheem Stokes

However, with both negated combined with a pair of first-down penalties, the Gold team grabbed a 24-16 lead early in the final period.

One of the game's biggest plays followed, though, as sophomore signal caller Trevor Bermingham, who earned the starting nod for the Crimson team in the first quarter and was reinserted in the final period, hooked up with wideout Shakur Sanders on an 82-yard scoring play to trim the deficit to a single point with 12:20 to play.

Following the long scoring play, a pair of first downs by the Gold team, including one by penalty and another on a Grove to Moore connection, gave the Gold squad a 26-23 lead with less than six minutes to go in the game. Eventually, the Crimson team held and got the ball back with just over three minutes remaining. Returning playmaker Dontae Ingraham picked up a first-down to make it a two-point contest before Wimberly preserved the triumph with his interception with 39 seconds to play.

"Ultimately, we've had to overcome some obstacles this spring with the weather and those types of things will prepare you for the season," Annese said. "In the end, our goals are beyond just having a great season and we want to play in the postseason so those things will help.

"I saw some things today from some guys that were outstanding and overall we've had a competitive spring," he said.

Teams were split into two units and the game was played primarily under normal operating rules with a running clock utilized for each 20-minute quarter. Several players saw limited action or did not dress as the Bulldog coaching staff used the opportunity to give nearly everyone a number of repititions in the contest.

The Crimson & Gold Spring Game continued FSU's official spring practice season, which started March 21 and included 15 workouts per NCAA regulations.

The red team was guided by uarterbacks coach/offensive coordinator Ryan Brady, wide receivers coach Sparky McEwen along with defensive line coach Andy Tevlin, defensive backs coach Ryan Hodges and special teams coordinator Jack Schugars. Meanwhile, the white team was led by assistant head coach Rob Zeitman, defensive coordinator Lou Esposito, running backs coach Brad Corpe and slots coach Steve Annese with head coach Tony Annese overseeing all the action.

Ferris State wrapped up a successful 2013 campaign and the second season under Annese's direction last fall with a 8-3 overall record along with a second-place 8-2 finish in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) North Division standings. FSU narrowly missed receiving the school's first playoff bid in 17 years.

The Bulldogs' eight-win campaign last fall was the school's first since 2006 and only the second in the program's last 16 seasons. Additionally, Ferris State's eight league wins in 2013 were also its most since 1996. FSU's eight league wins in 2013 were also its most since 1996 and the Bulldogs beat rival Grand Valley State for the second consecutive year to hold 
onto possession of the Anchor-Bone Trophy.

Recently, FSU also inked a highly-regarded 35-member recruiting class on National Signing Day in February. The talented class of 33 prepsters and two Division I transfers came on the heels of a stellar class a year ago that was labeled as the best in the nation.

The Bulldogs will begin their 106th season of varsity competition this coming fall with their sights set on competing for a potential GLIAC Championship and a NCAA Division II Playoff berth after posting only the program's second eight-win season in the last 16 years during the 2013 campaign. FSU opens the 2014 campaign with a non-league contest at McKendree (Ill.) on Thursday, Sept. 4, before visiting Northwood for their GLIAC opener on Sept. 13 in Midland.

FSU's 2014 home opener at Top Taggart Field will be on Sept. 20 as the Bulldogs entertain archrival Grand Valley State in the Anchor-Bone Classic with kickoff set for 7 p.m. (ET).

2014 SPRING GAME SCORING SUMMARY

First Quarter:
GOLD - First Down (Jamaal Jackson run)
GOLD - First Down (Jason Vander Laan pass to Jake Lampman)
GOLD - First Down (Jahaan Brown run)
GOLD - First Down (Jason Vander Laan pass to Brandon Moore)
CRIMSON - First Down

Second Quarter:
GOLD - First Down (Landon Grove pass to Brandon Moore)
CRIMSON - Turnover (KC Zenner interception)
CRIMSON - First Down
GOLD - Touchdown (Landon Grove 51 pass to Phil Annese; Phil Fiebernitz PAT)

Third Quarter:
CRIMSON - First Down (DeShun Brown run)
CRIMSON - First Down (Garius Coleman run)
GOLD - Touchdown (Anthony Darkangelo 53-yard interception return; Phil Fiebernitz PAT)
CRIMSON - First Down (DeShun Brown run)
CRIMSON - First Down (DeShun Brown run)
CRIMSON - First Down (DeShun Brown run)
CRIMSON - Touchdown (Kitwana Clark 37 run; PAT failed)
GOLD - First Down (penalty)

Fourth Quarter:
GOLD - First Down (penalty)
CRIMSON - Touchdown (Trevor Bermingham 82 pass to Shakur Sanders; Mitch Bredberg PAT)
GOLD - First Down (penalty)
GOLD - First Down (Landon Grove pass to Brandon Moore)
CRIMSON - First Down (Dontae Ingraham run)
GOLD - Turnover (James Wimberly interception)

FINAL SCORE: GOLD 29, CRIMSON 24

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