Postgame Press Conference
Big Rapids, Mich. - Nationally second-ranked Ferris State University football beat rival Grand Valley State for the eighth time in the last 10 matchups on Saturday (Nov. 9) as FSU posted a 21-16 triumph over the Lakers to claim a second consecutive outright GLIAC Championship before a large crowd in the nationally-televised Anchor-Bone Classic at Top Taggart Field.
FSU capped its fourth unbeaten regular-season in the past six years and stretched its regular-season winning streak to a school record-tying 28 games en route to improving to 10-0 overall and 8-0 in league action. The contest was FSU's final outing of the regular-season.
The Bulldogs fought back from a 9-0 deficit late in the first half and took control in the second half while generating 525 yards of total offense behind the play of senior quarterback Travis Russell, who threw for 287 yards and two scores in addition to rushing for a team-high 78 yards on 12 carries.
After a scoreless first period, the 14th-ranked Lakers struck first with 4:04 to go in the first half on Josh Gorball's 36-yard field goal. Soon after, the Lakers increased the advantage to 9-0 when Isaiah Nkansah scooped up a fumble and raced 79 yards to the endzone in the final minute of the half.
However, the Bulldogs got a big score as they took advantage of a short kick and a GVSU penalty to pull within 9-7 at halftime on Russell's 20-yard scoring throw to sophomore wideout Xavier Wade.
The score stood until the later stages of the third period when Tyler Minor raced to the endzone from 26 yards away with 3:21 to go, giving FSU its first lead of the afternoon at 14-9.
The lead grew less than two minutes later when Russell found sophomore Marcus Taylor on a 52-yard scoring play to push the Bulldogs' edge to 21-9 heading into the final period.
The Bulldogs managed to run time of the clock in the final 10 minutes of the game, but GVSU pulled back within five when Cole Kotopka found Brandon Wadley on a 62-yard scoring throw with only 2:40 remaining in the game. However, the Lakers' onside kick try was recovered by FSU and the Bulldogs preserved the win.
Ferris State finished with 238 yards on the ground and 287 in the air while the Lakers managed 372 total yards, including 182 rushing and 190 from Kotopka in the passing game.
Along with Russell, Wade made a game-high five catches for 102 yards with senior slot Jevon Shaw hauling in three catches for 67 yards and sophomore Sy Barnett making three grabs for 44 yards. Minor added 69 rushing yards with Marvin Campbell running for 55 yards on 13 tries.
The Bulldog defense was paced by senior defensive back Omari McCauley's team-high 11 stops. Senior linebacker Avonte Bell added nine tackles with a fumble recovery and forced fumble while both James Ceasar and Delon Stephenson came up with interceptions on the day.
The game was televised live across the country by Fox Sports Detroit as part of "Football Week In Michigan." It was also Senior Day as FSU honored 21 seniors prior to their final regular-season home games.
The Bulldogs, who were the number one seed in the latest NCAA Division II Super Region Three Rankings, have a bye in the final week of the regular season next Saturday. FSU will now await the official NCAA Division II Selection announcement set for Sunday, Nov. 17, and the Bulldogs are expected to receive their sixth consecutive D2 Playoff berth. The top seven teams will advance to postseason play from Super Region Three with the number one seed earning a first-round playoff bye.