FSU Earns Hard-Fought GLIAC Road Victory

FSU's Dwayne Williams fights for yardage at Ohio Dominican (Photo by Rob Bentley)
FSU's Dwayne Williams fights for yardage at Ohio Dominican (Photo by Rob Bentley)

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Columbus, Ohio - The Ferris State University football team secured its first road victory in nearly two years with a hard-fought 34-28 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) triumph over league newcomer Ohio Dominican on Saturday (Sept. 18) afternoon at Panther Field.

The Bulldogs built a 28-6 third quarter lead in the first-ever series' meeting between the two schools, but were forced to stop the Panthers twice in the final four minutes to pull out the win.

"The bottom line is we got a win," said FSU head coach Jeff Pierce.  "I'm disappointed we didn't put them away earlier, but they played hard and it's still nice to get a win when you have these types of learning experiences.

"It's always tough to win on the road and we were able to pull one out today despite having some things we need to clean up," he added.

ODU scored on its first possession of the game as the Panthers drove 67 yards and Mike Noffsinger found the endzone from 19 yards out only three minutes into the contest.

However, Ferris answered and took a one-point edge with 1:18 to play in the opening frame on a 65-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Tom Schneider to junior receiver Mike Ryan.

FSU increased its lead to 14-6 as Mike Elias scooped up a blocked field goal attempts and rambled 75 yards for a score with 8:29 left in the first half.  The lead then grew to 21-6 at the break as Ferris marched 76 yards and Dwayne Williams plunged in from two yards away with only 30 seconds left until halftime.

The Bulldog lead pushed to 28-6 on Damien Miller's 17-yard TD catch from Schneider with 9:58 to play in the third period before the Panthers battled back.

Ohio Dominican cut the lead to 28-14 on Tyler Purcell's 16-yard scoring pass from Billy Griffin midway thru the third period.  Then, with 6:15 left in the third quarter, the Panthers blocked a FSU punt and Ronnel Spates ran it back five yards for a score to make it 28-21.

Ferris answered with a 71-yard drive to take a 34-21 edge with 8:40 remaining on Aaron Olman's four-yard touchdown blast.  The extra point, however, failed.

ODU drove 70 yards on 12 plays and Mark Nichols reached the endzone with 4:15 left as the Panthers closed the gap to only six points.

Following Nichols' TD, the Bulldogs fumbled the ensuing kickoff and ODU recovered at the FSU 25-yard line.  The Bulldog defense, though, stepped up to the challenge and stopped the Panthers on four downs, including the final two plays from the 19-yard line. 

Ohio Dominican forced the Bulldogs to punt with just over two minutes to play and took over offensively at midfield.  For the second consecutive week, the Bulldog defense preserved the win when sophomore cornerback Antwian Windmon picked off a fourth down pass with only 1:30 remaining, which allowed FSU to run out the clock.

"Our defense won the game for us at the end," Pierce said.  "They did what they had to do in order for us to come out with a victory."

Schneider paced the Bulldogs offensively by completing 19 of 28 passes for 208 yards and two scores.  Williams led FSU in rushing with 60 yards on nine carries while Schneider contributed 38 yards on nine attempts.  Miller caught a team-high three balls for 29 yards.

Meanwhile, ODU's Griffin completed 23 of 46 passes for 193 yards, but was sacked three times and intercepted twice by the Bulldog defense.  Tyler Maddox made six catches for 67 yards and Noffsinger carried the ball 13 times for 50 yards.

Ferris was hampered by three lost fumbles, a blocked punt, two missed field goals, a dropped pass in the endzone and a missed extra point in the contest.

However, FSU rolled up a season-high 412 yards of total offense with 204 yards rushing to go with 208 in the air via a balanced attack.  The Bulldogs also netted 23 first downs compared to 15 for the Panthers, who totaled 223 yards offensively.  FSU limited ODU to only 30 rushing yards on 22 attempts.

Matt Ryan totaled 13 tackles, one sack, a tackle for loss and forced fumble in spearheading the Bulldog defense.  Windmon chipped in with six stops, including five solo hits, and a pass breakup in addition to the interception. 

The road win was FSU's first since a 31-24 league victory at Indianapolis two seasons ago (Oct. 11, 2008).

FSU improves to 2-1 overall with the win and remains unbeaten in conference play at 2-0 after Saturday's triumph.  ODU fell to 0-2 overall and in conference action.

The Bulldogs return home to host the Tiffin Dragons on Saturday, Sept. 25, with the league "kids Night" kickoff set for 7 p.m. (EDT) at FSU's Top Taggart Field in Big Rapids. 

Bulldog Bites: Ferris was a perfect three-of-three in the red zone ..... The Bulldogs held possession for 33:44 compared to 26:16 for the hosts ....... FSU spread the ball around as 10 different offensive players had catches in the game and six different players had at least three rushing attempts apiece ..... Sophomore back Tyler Thomas saw his first action of the season and had 36 rushing yards on eight attempts along with two catches for seven yards ...... FSU's Mike Elias added an interception, two pass breakups and four tackles to go with his TD return of the blocked kick ........ Sophomore defensive end Jordan Morgan blocked the field goal try that was returned by Elias and also finished with a sack for a loss of 19 yards, a breakup and a tackle for loss ........ Senior DT Jacob Moreno contributed seven stops, two tackles for loss, two breakups and a sack ......... FSU's 34 points were its most since a 34-14 victory over Tiffin in week one of the 2009 season ........ The game began a stretch of four consecutive games against Ohio-based schools for the Bulldogs.