Midland, Mich. - A short touchdown throw on the game's final play enabled the nationally sixth-ranked Ferris State University football squad to pull out a heart-stopping 27-26 road triumph over the Northwood Timberwolves on Saturday (Sept. 17) at NU's Hantz Stadium in Midland.
The Bulldogs marched 53 yards in the final 2:20 of the game and scored with no time remaining on the clock via a five-yard TD pass from junior quarterback Reggie Bell to junior slot Jajuan Pollock. On fourth down from the NU five-yard line, Bell fired his pass to Pollock just across the goal line, giving FSU its second consecutive last-second road victory.
The Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) win lifted FSU to 3-0 overall and in league play this season. It also gave the Bulldogs a school-record 28th-straight regular-season triumph dating back to 2013.
"We survived," said FSU head coach Tony Annese. "We obviously didn't play our best football today, but credit to our guys for finding a way to pull it out in the end."
Ferris State had to rally for the second week in a row as the Bulldogs trailed 26-14 following a Northwood score with only five minutes to go in the third period. However, the defense came up with a pair of interceptions and garnered several stops down the stretch as the Bulldogs scored the game's final 13 points to pull out the win.
Host Northwood jumped out to the early advantage as the Timberwolves scored the game's first 10 points in the opening stanza to build the early lead over FSU. NU drove 86 yards in nine plays on its first offensive possession to reach the scoreboard first on Joe Garbarino's 23-yard scoring pass to Theron Wilson.
Following a Bulldog turnover, Northwood tacked on three more points on a 44-yard field goal from Keegan Haggarty to push the advantage to 10-0 following the first quarter of action.
Ferris State responded in the second frame as Bell led the Bulldogs on a 43-yard drive for their first points of the contest early in the second frame. His first touchdown throw of the day went to junior Brandon Walker, who scored his first Bulldog TD on a nine-yard scoring reception with 14:20 remaining in the opening half.
After a 32-yard field goal from Haggarty following a Bulldog turnover, Ferris State finally took the lead for the first time when senior quarterback Trevor Bermingham came on for a one-yard scoring run with 6:55 left in the first half. His one-yard plunge capped a 12-play, 77-yard drive, giving FSU a 14-13 lead heading into halftime.
Northwood started strong in the second half again, though, as the Timberwolves regained the lead only four minutes into the third period on Garbarino's one-yard scoring run. His touchdown finished a lengthy 79-yard Northwood drive and made it 20-14 in favor of the Timberwolves.
The hosts had another long scoring drive midway thru the third frame which tailback Vashon Nutt cappped. He broke past the FSU defense on a 29-yard scamper to make it 26-14 with only 5:12 left in quarter three.
From there, Ferris State rallied. The Bulldogs pulled within 26-21 on a controversial scoring connection late in the third quarter as Pollock found senior wideout Shakur Sanders on a 43-yard scoring throw out of the backfield. Sanders made a juggling grab in the air and held on just long enough to reach the endzone with only two minutes left in the third.
Ferris State had opportunities in the final quarter, but one potential scoring toss to Pollock down the sideline was thwarted when a potential catch was kicked up into the air and picked off by NU in the endzone. Later, the Bulldogs marched into Northwood territory, but a fourth-down play in the final minutes ended when Bermingham slipped in the FSU backfield on the Timberwolves' slippery grass field.
However, the Bulldog defense forced a three-and-out, giving the offense one final opportunity with 2:20 to play. Ferris State took advantage of a roughing the passer penalty call for a first down and eventually marched into the red zone. With time ticking down and no timeouts left, FSU played for the game's final score on fourth down and Bell found Pollock for the winning score.
Ferris State rolled up 402 yards of total offense in the game, but was limited to only 96 yards rushing on 37 attempts. Junior back Jahaan Brown led FSU on the ground with 62 yards on 15 carries.
In the air, Bell completed 23-of-35 passes for 223 yards and two scores. Senior slot Jamel Lockett made six catches for 34 yards while Pollock had five grabs for 36 yards. He also converted two-of-three throws for 84 yards and a TD.
Defensively, senior linebacker Anthony Darkangelo made 11 tackles, including seven solo stops. Jevonte Alexander came up with seven tackles while linebacker Nick Huckabay finished with six stops.
Northwood, which dropped to 0-3 overall, netted 282 total yards. The Timberwolves were led by CJ Patton on the ground with 38 rushing yards. Garbarino completed 10-of-22 passes for 159 yards and a score, but was intercepted twice. Wilson made four catches for 68 yards for NU while Michael Fisher finished with a game-high 14 tackles.
The win was Ferris State's 15th consecutive victory on the road dating back to 2013.
Ferris State returns home to host nationally fifth-ranked Ashland in a homecoming showdown next Saturday, Sept. 24, at FSU's Top Taggart Field. Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. (ET) and the game will be televised across the country live as the Division II Game of the Week by the American Sports Network.
Tickets for the homecoming game are on sale now and can be purchased thru the FSU Athletics Ticket Office. Call (231) 591-2888 for additional information or visit FerrisStateBulldogs.com.
#6 Ferris State Survives As Bulldogs Score On Game's Final Play In School-Record Win
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Sep 17, 2016