Ferris State Caps Unbeaten Regular-Season & Wins GLIAC Crown Outright With Thrilling Comeback

Ferris State Caps Unbeaten Regular-Season & Wins GLIAC Crown Outright With Thrilling Comeback

Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University football team capped off an unbeaten regular-season and claimed the outright Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Championship with an improbable 46-42 comeback win over Walsh University in the regular-season finale on Saturday (Nov. 15) in Canton, Ohio.

The Bulldogs rallied back from a 35-24 deficit starting the final quarter with three touchdown drives and several key stops from the defensive unit to beat an inspired Walsh squad at historic Fawcett Stadium located at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

With the win, FSU capped off the school's first-ever 11-0 regular-season and became the first team since 1995 in Bulldog history to finish a regular-season campaign unbeaten. The GLIAC title was FSU's first since 1999 and first outright crown since 1996.

Ferris State will now await the NCAA Division II Selection Show, which takes place on Sunday at 5 p.m. (ET) on NCAA.com. FSU will likely receive the number one seed as the only unbeaten team in Super Region Four and is expected to earn a first-round playoff bye and host a NCAA Playoff game on Nov. 29 at Top Taggart Field.

Junior quarterback Jason Vander Laan played like a Harlon Hill Trophy candidate for the Bulldogs in the fourth quarter, leading FSU on three fourth-quarter scoring drives as FSU rallied for the victory to finish the unbeaten regular-season. The win was Ferris State's nation-leading 15th-straight win dating back to last year and the Bulldogs also finished with a perfect 10-0 mark in league action this year.

For the game, Vander Laan completed 18-of-27 passes for 260 yards and two scores while also running for a game-high 101 yards and three TD's. He also became the school's all-time leading career rusher in the contest.

Vander Laan opened the contest for FSU in the first quarter as the Bulldogs drove 78 yards in eight plays before he hooked up with slot Antonio Agurs for a 24-yard scoring connection.

However, Walsh responded my moving 54 yards in four plays to knot the game up at 7-7 on Justin Keith's two-yard scoring run.

The Bulldogs grabbed a 10-7 lead with 4:09 to play in the opening frame on Mitch Bredberg's 27-yard field goal, but those would be the only three points FSU could find on three potential scoring opportunities in the red zone in the first half.

Walsh scored twice in the second quarter on drives of 50 and 38 yards to grab a 21-10 lead before FSU cut the margin to four on a one-yard Vander Laan run with 2:37 left in the half.

But, the Cavaliers again marched 70 yards in four plays to take a 28-17 lead at halftime on Keith's one-yard plunge.

Ferris State was offset by three lost fumbles in the contest in addition to a five-of-seven showing in the red zone.

FSU, though, started quickly in the second half as the Bulldogs drove 57 yards in seven plays with Jamel Lockett capping the drive with a four-yard run as Ferris State trimmed the margin to 28-24.

Again, Walsh responded and answered the Bulldog march with a 61-yard drive to push the lead to 35-24 with nine minutes left in the third quarter on Keith's one-yard run.

The score stood up until the opening drive of the fourth quarter when Vander Laan found paydirt from four yards out to make it a three-point game with 14:06 remaining. His score capped a 59-yard drive for the Bulldogs.

Walsh came back to push the margin back to 10 points with 9:38 left on Jerald Robinson's 27-yard scoring catch from Jason Fracassa.

However, Ferris State moved quickly as the Bulldogs drove 80 yards in seven plays to pull back within three on Jamaal Jackson's 23-yard scoring reception from Vander Laan.

Following the FSU score, the Bulldogs came up with the game's key defensive stop and the offense marched 63 yards in 10 plays for the go-ahead and eventual game-winning score, which Vander Laan finished with a one-yard burst with only 36 seconds left.

From there, the defense again stepped up to the challenge and shut down the Cavaliers as FSU preserved the comeback win.

Overall, Ferris State tallied 521 yards of ttoal offense and ran for 261 yards on the ground. Walsh also had a productive day with 456 total yards, including 315 in the air as the opened up the playbook in the season finale.

In addition to Vander Laan's numbers, Lockett had 71 yards rushing for the Bulldogs and six catches for 68 yards.

Seniors Darnell Morris and Corey Stone led the Bulldog defense with seven stops each.

Ferris State is projected to receive a first-round playoff bye and earn a second-round NCAA Playoff home game on Nov. 29 following the official announcement on Sunday. Stay tuned to FerrisStateBulldogs.com for additional information as it becomes available.