Offense Edges Defense In Tightly-Contested Ferris State Spring Football Game

FSU

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Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University football squad officially wrapped up spring drills on Friday (April 20) as the Bulldogs held their annual Crimson & Gold Game at FSU's Top Taggart Field.

A large crowd came out on a beautiful day to watch the Bulldogs in game action for the first time since last fall. In the modified scoring format, the offensive unit topped the defensive in a close finish by a 49-47 score.

Along with the game, the Bulldogs held several special events, including honoring retiring head athletic trainer Dave Lucey between quarters in addition to a special halftime ceremony recognizing the NCAA Division II National Champion men's basketball squad.

The contest featured a modified scoring system and a running clock was utilized at the discretion of FSU head coach Tony Annese.

While many of the Bulldogs' top returning players were limited or held out of the contest, the spring game provided an opportunity for many of FSU's younger squad members to receive significant playing experience in a game-like situation. The contest wrapped up spring drills that began in mid-March for the Bulldogs.

A member of the national championship hoops team opened the game in a big way as defensive back and two-sport athlete DeShaun Thrower took the opening kick and raced it back 95 yards to the house for the game's first score.

After the defense took the early edge, the offense grabbed their first lead with a pair of first downs from tailback Robert Thomas III, including a reception covering more than 10 yards from newcomer Jayru Campbell at quarterback, along with a 43-yard field goal from Jackson Dieterle. Fellow back Derrick Portis added a first down carry before the defensive forced a punt to regain the lead at 9-8 after one period.

The defense seized control early in the second period with a pick six interception return, which produced 16 points on the score and takeway. However, the offense battled back again with three first down pickups with two from Campbell and one from fellow quarterback Brett Mooney. In between, Campbell hooked up with senior receiver Keyondre Craig for a 45-yard score.

On the final play of the opening half, FSU men's basketball head coach and National Coach of the Year Andy Bronkema completed a long throw down the sideline to one of his senior standouts as Peter Firlik scored on a 56-yard pass play before attempting to dunk the ball over the goalpost. The defense led 25-20 after the first half.

In the third quarter, the Bulldog offense continued to battle as the unit picked up six first downs in the period. Mooney threw for two first down pickups as did fellow QB Travis Russell while Portis had a first-down carry and Dieterle capped the third period scoring with a 40-yard field goal. But, in betwee, the defense scored again on a pick six with redshirt freshman defensive back Amarr Blake racing to the endzone on the 65-yard interception return, enabling the defense to hold onto a 41-35 lead after three periods.

The final period, though, belonged to the offense. Despite playing several new faces late, the offense tallied four more first downs and scored on a five-yard TD pass from Mikey Phillips to Sam Neville, which followed a long completion from the two to setup the score. The defense did get a takeaway on a fumble recovery from Ian Hall late, but the offense preserved the win by running the clock out.

The spring game featured a modified scoring format with the defense earning opportunities to score points on takeaways, three-and-outs along with forcing a punt. In addition to traditional scoring methods, the offense could also pick up extra points with a first down or a big play of 10 yards or more. Special teams action was not live and the contest featured four running clock quarters.

The Bulldogs will begin their 110th season of varsity competition this coming fall with their sights set on making a fifth consecutive trip to the NCAA Division II Playoffs.

Along with reaching the NCAA Division II National Quarterfinals in 2017 for the second consecutive year, the Bulldogs also made their fourth-straight trip to the D2 Playoffs and posted an 11-2 record, marking the first time in school history in which FSU has won 11 games or more in four-straight seasons. Last summer, Hero Sports picked FSU as Michigan's Best College Football program regardless of division.

Over the last four seasons at Ferris State, the Bulldogs have compiled a 45-7 overall record and made four consecutive NCAA Playoff appearances, claimed two conference championships, posted two unbeaten regular-seasons, twice made the national quarterfinals, captured a regional title and reached the national semifinals. Ferris State has also accumulated two Harlon Hill National Player of the Year trophies, twice had a student-athlete tabbed as the nation's National Scholar-Athlete of the Year and won six postseason games.

In the six seasons under Annese, the Bulldogs have become a national power on the Division II level. FSU has posted a 60-14 overall mark in the last six years and the Bulldogs have also posted the best winning percentage of all 21 collegiate programs in the state of Michigan along with the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) since his arrival. Twice he's been tabbed as the Super Region Coach of the Year at Ferris State.

Overall, Annese has won 83% of his games as a head coach on the collegiate and prep levels and owns 285 wins to date, which is the most of any current GLIAC member head coach at all levels.

Ferris State will return nearly 50 letterwinners for the 2018 campaign.

SCORING SUMMARY:

1st Quarter
Defense - DeShaun Thrower 95 yard kickoff return
Offense - First Down (run by Robert Thomas)
Offense - First Down (Jayru Campbell pass to Thomas)
Offense - Jackson Dieterle 43-yard field goal
Offense - First Down (Derrick Portis run)
Defense - Forced a punt
Offense - First Down (Travis Russell pass)

2nd Quarter
Defense - Touchdown (Pick Six)
Offense - Extra Point
Offense - First Down (Campbell run)
Offense - First Down (Campbell run)
Offense - Touchdown (Campbell 45 pass to Keyondre Craig)
Offense - Extra Point (Dieterle)
Offense - First Down (Brett Mooney)
Offense - Touchdown (Coach Andy Bronkema 56 yard pass to Peter Firlik)

3rd Quarter
Offense - First Down (Mooney pass to Wyatt Plater)
Offense - First Down (Mooney pass to Miles Jones)
Defense - Touchdown (Amarr Blake 65-yard Pick Six)
Offense - Extra Point (Tyler Burch)
Offense - First Down (Malik Hazzard run)
Offense - First Down (Russell pass to Jevon Shaw)
Offense - First Down (Russell pass to Jevon Shaw)
Offense - First Down (Portis run)
Offense - Field Goal (Dieterle 40-yards)

4th Quarter
Offense - First Down
Offense - First Down (Julian Shariff run)
Offense - First Down (Mikey Phillips run)
Offense - First Down (Phillips pass to Sam Neville)
Offense - Touchdown (Phillips 5 pass to Neville)
Offense - First Down
Defense - Takeway (Fumble recovery by Ian Hall)