Post Game Press Conference
Big Rapids, Mich. - Two big fumble recoveries by the defensive unit in the fourth quarter sparked Ferris State to a 20-14 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) home win over visiting Walsh on Saturday (Sept. 22) night at FSU's Top Taggart Field.
The win was the first home triumph for the Bulldogs under first-year head coach Tony Annese as the Bulldogs rang the victory bell after pulling out the hard-fought victory.
Ferris State scored with 3:15 remaining in the first quarter when redshirt freshman quarterback Jason Vander Laan hooked up with tight end Jace Heneveld on a 34-yard scoring pass to finish a 14-play, 84-yard drive. The extra point failed, but the score stood for most of the next two quarters.
Walsh claimed its only lead of the game with 1:12 to play in the third as the Cavaliers marched 80 yards in 11 plays to take the lead on a one-yard TD run by Toba Olarewaju followed by the extra point.
Early in the fourth quarter, though, came the turning point. The Cavaliers were driving deep into Bulldog territory when they fumbled a handoff and FSU senior linebacker Tayo Moss scooped it up and raced 82 yards to the endzone to give the Bulldogs a 12-7 lead in the game, which was played under rainy and windy conditions.
On the following possession, the Cavaliers turned the ball over again and the Bulldogs moved 34 yards in five plays to take a 20-7 lead on a four-yard scoring run by Vander Laan.
The Cavaliers didn't quit in the first-ever series' matchup as they drove 72 yards in six plays to pull within 20-14 on a 45-yard pass from Kevin Besser to Anthony Schrock with 6:08 remaining in the game. After forcing FSU to punt, the Bulldog defense stood up to the test and sealed the victory by holding Walsh on downs.
Ferris State improved to 3-1 overall and 2-1 in the GLIAC with the win while Walsh fell to 1-3 overall and 0-3 in league action.
FSU, which entered the contest ranked third nationally in rushing and fourth in total offense, was limited to 275 total yards. The Bulldogs ran for 171 yards on 45 attempts and Vander Laan completed eight-of-17 passes for 104 yards.
Vander Laan led the Bulldogs on the ground with 81 rushing yards on 19 attempts. Meanwhile, Heneveld caught two passes for 44 yards to lead the receivers.
Walsh posted 287 yards of total offense with 167 rushing and 120 passing on eight-of-20 completions. Olarewaju led the Cavaliers iwth 164 yards rushing on 38 carries while Besser threw for all 120 yards, including six catches by Schrock for 103 yards.
Both teams had two fumbles in the game. Walsh was six-of-19 on third down while the Bulldogs converted five-of-13 times.
Moss led the defense with 13 tackles and also forced the fumble at the end of the contest, which was recovered by senior defensive end Jordan Morgan. Senior safety Jaime Barrera had 11 stops while senior end Brad Iskow totaled 10 tackles, including three for a loss of seven yards.
Ferris State will hit the road the next two weeks as the Bulldogs begin GLIAC North Division action. FSU visits Saginaw Valley State next Saturday, Sept. 29, for a 7 p.m. (ET) league tilt in University Center, Mich., before heading to Grand Valley State for the Anchor-Bone Classic on Oct. 6 in Allendale.
Bulldog Bites: The 82-yard fumble recovery return for a touchdown by Tayo Moss is believed to be the longest in school history. The previous season high for fumble return yards was set by Keith Thompson in 1994 with 78 total return yards on the year ...... The win came in the 100th evening game for the Bulldogs at Top Taggart Field dating back to the first night game at the stadium in the early 60's ...... Walsh is midst its first season as a GLIAC member after officially joining the conference this summer ....... FSU helped kickoff "Paint Big Rapids Pink" in support of breast cancer awareness with the evening contest.