Offense Holds Off Defense As Defending GLIAC Champions Hold Annual Spring Football Game

Offense Holds Off Defense As Defending GLIAC Champions Hold Annual Spring Football Game

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Big Rapids, Mich. - A key fourth-quarter touchdown helped the offensive unit hold off a late surge from the defensive squad as the defending Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Champion Ferris State University football team held its 2015 Crimson & Gold Spring Game before a large crowd of fans on a beautiful Saturday (April 18) afternoon at FSU's Top Taggart Field.

The Bulldogs' Kyle Kujawa scored on a five-yard run to cap a drive from the offensive unit early in the final period as the Red Team (offense) beat the White Team (defense) by a 32-26 total in the modified scoring system. The contest for the first time pitted the offense versus the defense 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. Returning backup quarterbacks Trevor Bermingham and Landon Grove took a majority of the day's offensive snaps as returning Harlon Hill Trophy winner Jason Vander Laan did not play.

"It was a tremendous day for our football program and a chance really to watch some of our younger guys develop," Annese said. "We've had a great spring and we're thankful so many fans and supporters came out to watch our guys in action. We've made some great progress and today was a perfect day to cap off our spring."

After the defense came up a three-and-out to register the day's first points in the unique scoring format, the offense produced quickly on its second possession. Highly-touted redshirt freshman tailback Robert Thomas III rambled 16 yards to pick up "Big Play" points and back-to-back first downs added to the Red team total. Soon after, Bermingham connected with slot receiver Scottie Andrews on a 28-yard scoring play with returning kicker Mitch Bredberg adding the point after as the Red squad took a 13-4 edge after the first period.

In the second quarter, the Red team added to its margin as they twice earned points on back-to-back first downs. However, a sack from the defensive squad's Jacob Allan cut the deficit to 17-8 at halftime. The White team also had a strong third period as a three-and-out set along with a tackle for loss and sack trimmed the score to 21-16 in favor of the offense after three periods. The lone points on the Red end in the third quarter came from tailback Brandon Campbell, who produced "Big Play" points on a 15+ yard carry.

While the Red squad couldn't find the endzone in the third quarter, they did string together a drive to reach the red zone at the end of the period. A potential scoring throw from Grove to tight end Matt Capasso was negated due to penalty, but Kujawa's five-yard burst around the edge with a diving finish across the goal line opened the final quarter. Nate Iveson followed with a PAT and Andrews later added more "Big Play" points on a 15-yard carry to account for the final offensive totals.

The defense kept the game within striking distance late as Maurice Nash intercepted a pass for turnover points and the White team later added a late sack to pull within six points before time ran out.

Along with traditional points for touchdowns, field goals and extra points, the offensive unit also had an opportunity to pick up points on big plays and for recording two-straight first downs. Meanwhile, the defensive unit could earn points for touchdowns, turnovers, sacks, three-and-out situations along with tackles for loss.

The contest was part of a busy day of activities surrounding the spring game. Former Ferris State football alums and longtime supporters Jeff and Brian Carmody of Buffalo Wild Wings served as the game's honorary coaches. In addition, Ferris State's GLIAC Championship volleyball and men's basketball squads from this past year were also honored as the captains for the spring game. FSU Athletics Director Perk Weisenburger also officially recognized Vander Laan as the Harlon Hill Trophy winner at halftime and presented the 2014 GLIAC Championship Trophy to captain Justin Zimmer and the Bulldogs.

Saturday's game also coincided with the "Big Event", an annual community-wide cleanup and service effort in Big Rapids on Saturday morning. The Bulldog football team took part in the important civic initiative, which ranks as the state's largest student-led community service event. Prticipants also attended the post-event celebration, which took place in conjunction with the spring game. It featured games such as corn hole, spike ball and more along with free hot dogs, pictures with Harlon Hill winner Jason Vander Laan next to the victory bell after the game and more. The FSU Gridiron Club also held a special post-event reception.

With the spring game now complete, the Bulldogs will next hold a special GLIAC Championship Ring Ceremony in conjunction with the annual football Lift-A-Thon fundraising event on Friday, April 24, at 6 p.m. (ET) inside FSU's Jim Wink Arena.

The Crimson & Gold Spring Game wrapped up FSU's official spring practice drills under head coach Tony Annese.  The Bulldogs opened the spring workouts on March 20 and the slate includes a total of 15 workouts per NCAA regulations.

The Bulldogs will begin their 107th season of varsity competition this coming fall with their sights set on repeating as GLIAC Champions and making a return trip to the NCAA Division II Playoffs following a historic season in 2014 that saw the Bulldogs finish with their first conference title in 15 years and first trip to the postseason in 18 seasons.

In 2014, Annese led the Bulldogs to an 11-1 overall record, which was the school's best in 19 seasons. A total of 10 FSU standouts earned some form of All-America honors, the Bulldogs had 16 all-conference honorees and standout quarterback Jason Vander Laan, a junior, was tabbed as the Harlon Hill Trophy Award winner given to the NCAA Division II Player of the Year, the best of more than 10,000 players at the level in the nation.

Annese, who was named the GLIAC and American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Regional Coach of the Year after leading the Bulldogs to the school's first-ever 11-0 regular season in the program's 106-year history last fall, recently inked yet another stellar recruiting class on National Signing Day in February with FSU adding upwards of 30 incoming prep recruits, including a GLIAC-best 26 from the state of Michigan.

More than 50 letterwinners are slated to return this coming fall for the Bulldogs with upwards of 20 players with significant starting experience eligible to be back for the 2015 campaign.


WHITE - Defense 3 and Out
RED - Big Play - Robert Thomas 16-yard run
RED - Back to Back First Downs
RED - Touchdown - Bermingham to Andrews (28 yards)
RED - Extra Point - Bredberg
WHITE - Defense 3 and Out
END FIRST QUARTER - Red 13, White 4

RED - Back to Back First Downs
RED - Back to Back First Downs
WHITE - Jacob Allan Sack
HALFTIME - Red 17, White 8

WHITE - 3 and Out
RED - Big Play - Brandon Campbell 15+run
WHITE - Tackle for loss
WHITE - Sack
END THIRD QuARTER - Red 21, White 16

RED - Touchdown - Kyle Kujawa 5 run
RED - Extra Point - Nate Iveson PAT
WHITE - Interception by Maurice Nash
RED - Big Play - Scottie Andrews 15+
WHITE - Sack

FINAL SCORE: Red 32, White 26