Postgame Press Conference
Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University football squad scored with 15 seconds remaining in the game to pull out a heart-stopping 28-27 victory over archrival Grand Valley State on Saturday (Oct. 21) before a crowd of nearly 8,000 fans in the Anchor-Bone Classic at FSU's Top Taggart Field.
The nationally-televised Division II National Showcase Game of the Week lived up to the hype as the two West Michigan rivals battled back and forth on a beautiful fall afternoon in Big Rapids. The game had both huge conference and potential NCAA playoff implications with each squad owning a single loss heading into the tilt before the Bulldogs reclaimed the Anchor-Bone Trophy.
Grand Valley State seized control early as the Lakers drove 75 yards in four plays on their opening drive to find paydirt on tailback Marty Carter's three-yard TD run less than three minutes into the game.
Ferris State had a lengthy offensive drive on the Bulldogs' first series, which featured the return of starting quarterback Reggie Bell to the lineup. He marched FSU into the Laker redzone before the drive stalled and FSU came up empty.
The Bulldogs eventually trimmed the GVSU lead to 7-3 at the end of one quarter when senior kicker Wyatt Ford converted a 27-yard field goal with 3:08 to go in the stanza.
The score remained 7-3 until Grand Valley State pulled in front by two scores at halftime when quarterback Bart Williams hooked up with wideout Austin Paritee on a 25-yard scoring play with 2:47 remaining in the half.
Ferris State started the second half quickly as the Bulldogs scored 10 points in the initial four minutes to pull back within a single point. On FSU's first drive of the second half, Bell led FSU on an eight-play, 68-yard jaunt that resulted in a 25-yard field goal from Ford.
Then, on the ensuing kickoff, the Lakers failed to field the ball and FSU recovered to takeover in GVSU territory. The Bulldogs needed only five plays and 31 yards to find the endzone for the first time on Bell's nine-yard run.
However, the Lakers moved back in front by eight points soon after as Willimas found receiver Brandon Bean from 16-yards away to give GVSU a 21-13 lead. It finished a nine-play, 50-yard Laker drive.
The Bulldogs finally tied the game up with 4:50 to play in the fourth quarter when reserve quarterback Jevon Shaw came in to finish a five-play, 73-yard FSU drive with a one-yard scoring run. Bell directed the drive before giving way to Shaw for the score. He came back on and slot Jajuan Pollock hooked up with senior tight end Landon Grove on a memorable two-point scoring connection to knot it up inside of five minutes.
The Lakers, though, again moved back in front as Grand Valley State responded in a big way with a quick five-play, 75-yard drive capped by Williams' three-yard TD pass to tight end Nick Keizer in the back of the endzone with only 2:30 to play.
Following the GVSU score, the Lakers' extra-point try from Avery Echols was blocked by FSU in a special teams play that would prove to be crucial.
Ferris State wasn't finished, however. Bell, who was knocked out of the game briefly in the second half, engineered an eight-play, 60-yard march after a good kickoff return. He capped the drive with a memorable two-yard scoring run with only 15 seconds to play, which was followed by Ford's go-ahead extra point.
The Lakers had one final attempt to win the game, but the Bulldog defense stepped up to the challenge again and preserved the victory.
Ferris State finished with 427 yards to 419 for the Lakers and came up with 20 first downs in the game. The Bulldogs netted 186 rushing yards and 241 in the air with the Lakers running for 132 yards and producing 287 passing yards.
Bell led the Bulldogs with 91 rushing yards on 20 carries and two scores. He also completed 15-of-29 throws for 228 yards in the win. Malik Taylor led the FSU receivers with seven catches for 61 yards and Keyondre Craig had four grabs for 106 yards. Tailback Jahaan Brown ran for 71 yards.
Meanwhile, Williams completed 22-of-39 passes for 287 yards and three scores while Carter ran for a game-high 139 yards and a score. Bean had a game-high 10 catches for 167 yards and a TD.
Senior cornerback Tavierre Thomas led the Bulldog defense with eight tackles and senior linebacker Terrell Porter had seven. The Bulldogs totaled five tackles for loss, two sacks and broke up seven passes in the win. Collin Schlosser led GVSU with 12 total tackles.
With the win, FSU improved to 6-1 overall and 5-1 in the GLIAC. Meanwhile, Grand Valley State dropped to 6-2 overall and 5-1 in conference action. The victory came on Football Alumni Weekend as FSU welcomed back a large contingent of former players for the contest.
The victory was Ferris State's sixth victory in the last eight matchups with the Lakers under head coach Tony Annese.
The Bulldogs will play their final regular-season home game next Saturday (Oct. 28) as they host the Northwood Timberwolves in league action starting at 1 p.m. (ET) at Top Taggart Field.