By Bobby Cardenas
Big Rapids, Mich. - Head Coach Tony Annese and the Ferris State Bulldogs earned their sixth consecutive win Saturday afternoon as they defeated former Bulldog Assistant Sparky McEwan and the Davenport Panthers by a score of 26-0.
The first-ever matchup between the Bulldogs and the Panthers got off to a slow start as both offenses struggled to get anything going in the first quarter. The weather would also end up being a factor for both sides in the contest and both teams had to be escorted back into the locker rooms for a 30-minute weather delay in the first period.
After the brief weather delay, both teams took the field for the second time. The Bulldogs found the end zone early in the second quarter when slot receiver Dion Earls took a handoff from quarterback Travis Russell up the left sideline for a 22-yard touchdown run.
Ferris State's stout defense stepped up again in Saturday's hard fought win against the Panthers, forcing DU quarterback Cody Long to throw two interceptions in the second quarter. FSU found the end zone again in the second stanza and went into halftime by a score of 13-0.
The Bulldogs have had the luxury of being able to lean on their fierce defense at times this season, a unit which leads the GLIAC and is holding its opponents to just 15 points per game.
"We didn't give up any really big plays," said Annese. "It was an awesome performance by that group."
The Bulldogs D, led by All-American Zach Sieler held the Panthers to 156 yards of total offense, 85 yards through the air and 73 yards rushing. Sieler recorded 10 total tackles, six of which were solo tackles.
In the second half, the Bulldogs found paydirt again when Russell plunged into the end zone for a two-yard score with 1:15 left in the third quarter to extend the Bulldog lead to 19-0. Russell would record his first passing touchdown of the game on FSU's next possession, finding receiver Keyondre Craig for a 15-yard strike in the end zone to give the Bulldogs a 26-0 lead over the Panthers with 12:34 left in the ball game. Senior receiver Brandon Walker led the Bulldogs receiving corps with three receptions for 66 yards and Craig finished with two receptions for 45 yards and a touchdown.
"I thought Travis (Russell) hung in there and did a really nice job," said Annese.
Russell didn't have an eye-opening performance on paper, finishing seven of 26 passing for l03 yards and a touchdown. However, Russell did enough to help guide the Bulldogs to their third road win of the season by leading the field in rushing, gaining a career-high 121 yards on 21 carries and rushing for a touchdown as well.
The Bulldogs were ranked fourth in this week's Super Region Three rankings and kept their NCAA Playoff hopes alive with Saturday's win. FSU will look to carry the momentum from Saturday's win to Houghton where the Bulldogs will take on a stingy Michigan Tech team who wants to end their season with a signature win. The Bulldogs and the Huskies will square off at Sherman Field on Saturday (Nov. 11) at 12 p.m. (ET).