Ferris State Football Advances To NCAA Division II Regional Semifinals With Home Playoff Victory


Postgame Highlights 
FSU Postgame Press Conference 
ODU Postgame Press Conference 

Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University football squad advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division II Playoffs with a hard-fought 24-19 win over visiting Ouachita Baptist (Ark.) on Saturday (Nov. 18) at FSU's Top Taggart Field.

With the win, the Bulldogs advance to face top-seeded Fort Hays State (Kan.) on the road next Saturday, Nov. 25, at 2 p.m. (ET) in Hays, Kansas.

In Saturday's victory, the Bulldogs drove 75 yards in 11 plays in the fourth quarter to get the go-ahead score on sophomore quarterback Travis Russell's one-yard run with 6:13 to play. From there, the Bulldog defense held and came up with an interception in the closing seconds.

FSU rallied from an early 13-0 deficit as the Tigers struck quickly to grab the initial lead. On the game's opening possession, quarterback Austin Warford hooked up with tailback Kris Oliver on a 71-yard scoring throw less than a minute into the game.

Ouachita Baptist took advantage of four Bulldog turnovers in the opening half and added a pair of first-half field goals from kicker Cole Antley to push the lead to two scores. His first came from 22-yards away with 3:37 remaining in the first period and capped an 11-play, 60-yard scoring drive.

Antley's second- field goal was from 30-yards out with 6:33 to go in the half and finished an eight-play, 43-yard jaunt.

The Bulldogs finally got on the board late in the first half to trim the margin to 13-7 at halftime on senior tailback Jahaan Brown's one-yard scoring run with 4:43 remaining. His carry finished a six-play, 75- yard FSU march.

Ferris State started the second half strong with Wyatt Ford connecting on a 20-yard field goal with 10:57 left in the third on a short four-play, seven-yard drive.

FSU then took its first lead of the game shortly after with 9:05 left in the third stanza when senior strong safety Jaleel Canty scooped up a OBU fumble and raced 31 yards to the endzone, giving FSU a 17-13 edge.

The Tigers, though, regained the lead as Antley pulled them within 17-16 with 28 seconds to go in the third after a 10-play, 60-yard drive that ended with a 22-yard field goal. Then, with 10:33 remaining in the game, he hit another 32-yard field goal to finish a nine-play, 33-yard scoring drive.

However, the Bulldogs answered as FSU marched down for the go-ahead score on Russell's TD run.

Overall, Ferris State totaled 344 yards of total offense with 291 on the ground on 58 attempts. FSU threw for only 53 yards in the contest and overcame seven total fumbles, four of which were lost along with an interception.

Meanwhile, the Tigers netted 219 passing yards, but came up with only 100 yards rushing against the FSU defense en route to a 319-yard day of total offense. ODU did control the ball for more than 34 minutes.

Russell ran for a game-high 103 yards on the ground for the Bulldogs on 26 carries while splitting time with starter Reggie Bell, who finished with 96 rushing yards on 15 attempts. Robert Thomas added 51 yards and Brown finished with 36 yards on 10 carries. Junior Malik Taylor paced the FSU wideouts with four grabs for 38 yards.

Ouachita Baptist was led by Warford's 17-of-40 passing effort for 219 yards. However, he was intercepted twice. Kris Oliver ran for 62 yards on 21 tries while also catching a game-high seven balls for 94 yards in the air.

Defensively, junior All-American Zach Sieler tallied a team-high 12 tackles, which included 1.5 tackles for loss, a forced fumble and six quarterback hurries. Senior linebacker Nick Huckabay added 11 stops while senior KC Zenner finished with nine tackles.

The Bulldogs improved to 10-1 overall with the win and have now won their last eight games in a row. They snapped the Tigers' five-game win streak this year as OBU finished with a 9-3 overall mark.

The win came in the first-ever series matchup against Ouachita Baptist for FSU and it also represented the first time in which FSU had ever faced a team from the Great American Conference or the state of Arkansas.

It represented the fourth-straight year in which FSU has hosted at least one NCAA Division II Playoff game at Top Taggart Field.

The Bulldogs will square off against Fort Hays State next Saturday with a berth in the regional championship game on the line.