By Bobby Cardenas
Big Rapids, Mich. - After suffering its first loss of the season at Ashland, the nationally 15th-ranked Ferris State football squad came back in a big way this past weekend as FSU used all three phases in rolling past the Wayne State Warriors Saturday by a score of 59-17.
The Bulldogs failed to score a touchdown in the previous week's contest against the Ashland Eagles and wanted to get off to a fast start Saturday in their homecoming matchup with WSU. The Bulldogs blocked a WSU punt on their first possession of the game that was recovered by Danny Collins for a FSU touchdown just 1:49 seconds into the contest.
Sophomore quarterback Travis Russell was eager to get back onto the field and get into a rhythm Saturday afternoon after battling a stout Ashland defense the week before. Russell got going early on against the Warriors and hit most of his early completions on shorter, high-percentage throws to get the offensive juices flowing again for the Bulldogs. Overall, he completed 12 for 19 for 199 yards and a touchdown and led all Bulldog rushers with 56 yards on 10 carries and two touchdowns.
"Travis (Russell) played very well and was able to distribute the ball effectively." said Ferris State Head Coach Tony Annese.
After failing to hit paydirt last week, the Bulldogs scored on 6 of their 7 first half possessions Saturday and went into halftime with a 38-10 lead. The FSU defense came into the game looking to stop the Warriors' high-powered offensive attack and they did just that. Ferris State forced three turnovers and held the Warriors to converting just 3 of their 15 third down attempts.
The Bulldogs marched down the field and Jevon Shaw capped off the drive with a four-yard touchdown run on the first possession of the second half, putting Ferris State up 45-10 at the 10:55 mark of the third quarter. Malik Taylor led all Bulldog receivers with four receptions for 86 yards highlighted by a 22-yard touchdown catch from Russell in the beginning of the 4th quarter.
"Huge credit to my offensive line," said Russell. "I had all the time in the world to find the open receiver."
The Bulldogs' defense has been impressive in each game thus far this season and is continuing to grow and improve every time they step onto the field. Senior linebacker Nick Huckabay led the Bulldogs with eight tackles.
"As far as defense goes, another solid performance by them," said Annese. "They've (WSU) got some pretty big-time backs and a veteran quarterback so we were really pleased by that."
The Bulldogs were dominant Saturday on both sides of the ball against a dangerous team and they will look to continue to have success in the absence of starting quarterback Reggie Bell, who has missed the last two contests.
Ferris State continues its homestand this Saturday (Oct. 7) with another big showdown against the 4-1 Tiffin Dragons at Top Taggart Field. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. (ET).