Postgame Press Conference
Big Rapids, Mich. - The nationally 15th-ranked Ferris State University football squad bounced back in a big way as the Bulldogs rolled past visiting Wayne State 59-17 in their 2017 homecoming game before a crowd of nearly 6,500 fans on Saturday (Sept. 30) afternoon at FSU's Top Taggart Field.
The Bulldogs built an early 17-0 lead in the opening quarter and cruised past the Warriors to improve to 3-1 overall and 2-1 in the GLIAC.
After being held to only three points in last week's showdown against Ashland, FSU erupted for a season-high total in Saturday's encounter with all three phases contributing significantly in the win.
Ferris State held Wayne State and forced the Warriors to punt on the game's opening drive when the Bulldogs' DeShaun Thrower blocked WSU's punt attempt and junior cornerback Danny Collins recovered in the endzone for his first collegiate touchdown less than two minutes into the tilt.
On the Bulldogs' first offensive series, sophomore quarterback Travis Russell engineered a nine-play, 63-yard scoring drive, which he capped with a two-yard scoring run to make it 14-0 midway thru the first period.
Later in the opening stanza, Russell moved FSU into the redzone and the Bulldogs pushed their advantage to 17-0 on senior kicker Wyatt Ford's 23-yard field goal.
The Warriors got their first points when Paul Grahman hit a 26-yard field goal early in the third period to cut FSU's advantage back to two scores.
However, the Bulldogs later took advantage of a WSU turnover and senior tailback Jahaan Brown found paydirt from one-yard out to make it 24-3 in FSU's favor.
The Bulldogs stretched their lead to 31-3 after moving 61 yards in four plays with Robert Thomas racing to the endzone from three yards away with five minutes remaining in the first half.
Wayne State had the day's longest play late in the first half for their first touchdown as quarterback D.J. Zezula found Corey Ester on an 89-yard scoring strike with 3:17 to go in the period.
But, FSU answered in a big way as Russell led a seven-play, 72-yard march to give FSU a 38-10 lead at intermission on his own one-yard carry.
Ferris State started the second half quickly by increasing the advantage to 45-10 when Jevon Shaw found the endzone from four yards out to finish a 10-play, 55-yard drive. The lead stood until WSU's Demetrius Stinson scored on a 56-yard run with 2:25 remaining in the third to cap the Wayne State scoring.
The Bulldogs finally added two fourth-quarter scores to account for the final margin. Wideout Malik Taylor scored on a 22-yard TD pass from Russell to finish a 73-yard jaunt before Derrick Portis notched a two-yard TD run with three minutes to go to cap a 57-yard scoring drive.
FSU rolled up 488 yards of total offense, which included 260 on the ground and another 228 in the air. Meanwhile, the Bulldog defense held WSU to 324 total yards, including 177 rushing and 147 passing. Ferris State also intercepted two passes and forced a fumble.
Russell paced the Bulldogs with a team-high 56 yards rushing on 10 carries and completed 12 of 18 passes for 199 yards while accounting for three TD's. Brown added 46 yards rushing on 10 tries with Taylor pacing the FSU wideouts with four grabs for 86 yards. Shaw, Keyondre Craig, Lindrell Mitchell and Dion Earls all had two catches apiece.
Defensively, the Bulldogs were led by senior linebacker Nick Huckabay's eight tackles. Senior linebacker Terrell Porter added seven stops while safety Kenny James totaled five tackles and an interception. Thrower blocked two kicks.
For Wayne State, Zezula completed 10 of 20 passes for 131 yards while Stinson led WSU on the ground with 135 yards rushing. FSU limited standout Warrior back Romello Brown to only 30 yards on 11 carries. Kyle Toth had a game-high 16 tackles for WSU.
Ferris State will continue its two-game homestand next Saturday (Oct. 7) as the Bulldogs host the Tiffin Dragons with kickoff set for 1 p.m. (ET) at Top Taggart Field.