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Findlay, Ohio - Nationally fourth-ranked Ferris State overcame adversity and rallied back with a valiant second-half comeback to beat the Findlay Oilers 42-39 in Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) action on Saturday (Oct. 2) at Donnell Stadium in Findlay, Ohio.
The Bulldogs battled back from a 28-14 halftime deficit to grab a 42-31 lead early in the fourth quarter and then sealed the win by running out the clock with a final time-consuming drive in the closing minutes to remain unbeaten on the year.
Ferris State won its 19th-straight regular season contest dating back to 2013 by winning in Findlay for the first time since 2005 to move to 4-0 on the year and in GLIAC play.
"I'm proud of our guys for finding a way to battle back and get the win," said FSU head coach Tony Annese. "In this league, you have to be at your best every week or you'll get beat."
The Oilers came into the contest with one of the most prolific offenses in the country and lived up to the billing in the opening half by jumping out to a lead on the Bulldogs. UF struck first with 6:26 to play in the first period with a 79-yard drive capped by a 22-yard TD toss from Rhys Gervais to Anthony Federico.
However, FSU responded behind the play of senior signal caller Jason Vander Laan, who ran for a game-high 157 yards and four touchdowns in the game while completing 15-of-26 balls for 201 yards and two scores.
Vander Laan scored the Bulldogs' first points on a one-yard run to finish a 68-yard drive in only four plays as FSU answered to tie the game at 7-7 late in the first period. But, Findlay marched right back and Gervais found Chauncey Bridges on a 22-yard scoring toss to give the Oilers a 14-7 lead after the first period.
In the second frame, Findlay pushed its edge to 21-7 as Daiquone Ford found paydirt from 19-yards out to finish a 10-play, 51-yard drive for the Oilers. Again, though, the Bulldogs pulled back as Vander Laan hooked up with senior wideout Jake Lampman on a 31-yard scoring completion to make it a 21-14 game with 2:21 left in the half.
Findlay pushed its lead to 28-14 with 1:23 to go in the half when Gervais found Airion Kosak on a 51-yard pass play to the endzone. The Oilers nearly had a chance to increase the lead just before half following an onside kick, but could not connect on a long field goal try as the half came to a close.
The defending GLIAC Champions stormed back to life in the third period as Ferris State came back. FSU took the second half kickoff and moved 55 yards in 12 plays with Vander Laan finding the endzone on a one-yard keeper to cut UF's lead to 28-21.
After the Oilers pushed the lead to 31-21 on a 23-yard field goal from Tyler Bugeja, the Bulldogs pulled back within three when Vander Laan hooked up with Lampman from 22-yards away to cap a nine-play, 83-yard drive with 5:34 left in the third.
Soon after, the Bulldog defense came up with a stop and the special teams unit provided a big lift when Findlay's punter had to dive on top of the football and Ferris State took over at the Oiler 23-yard line. From there, Vander Laan found the endzone from 16-yards away to give FSU the lead for the first time at 35-31 at the end of three.
The Bulldogs increased the lead to 42-31 as Vander Laan engineered a 51-yard drive in nine plays before scoring from five yards out with 9:50 left in the game. The Bulldogs appeared to have the game in hand before Findlay moved quickly 70 yards in seven plays to trim the lead to 42-39 on Gervais' 24-yard throw to Tim Szabo with 6:21 to play.
Ferris State, though, put the ball in Vander Laan's hands and the offense proceeded to run out the final 6:21 as FSU secured the comeback win.
In addition to Vander Laan's impressive performance, the Bulldogs received 95 yards receiving on six catches from Lampman, who also ran for 50 yards on four plays. Jamel Lockett caught four balls for 22 yards and also ran five times for 41 yards.
The Bulldogs rolled up 505 yards of total offense compared to 427 for Findlay, which included 304 rushing yards on 56 attempts. Findlay tallied 135 rushing yards on 35 carries and Gervais completed 17-of-31 throws for 292 yards and four TD's.
Defensively, senior Justin Zimmer paced the Bulldog defense with 12 tackles, including six solo stops. He also had two sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss. Brady Sheldon added nine stops for FSU.
Ferris State hits the road back to Ohio next week as the Bulldogs visit Tiffin on Saturday (Oct. 10) for a 1:30 p.m. (ET) league tilt in Tiffin, Ohio.
#4 Ferris State Pulls Off Comeback Road Win Over Findlay To Stay Unbeaten
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