Big Rapids, Mich. - The nationally-ranked Ferris State Bulldogs won their sixth consecutive game this season as FSU kept its NCAA Playoff hopes alive with a 26-0 shutout over the Davenport Panthers in the first-ever series' matchup between the two West Michigan institutions at the Farmers Insurance Athletic Complex in Caledonia on Saturday (Nov. 4).
The Bulldogs used an impressive defensive performance and overcame an early lightening delay and rain to improve to 8-1 overall and 7-1 in the GLIAC.
The FSU defense set the tone as the Bulldogs allowed only 156 total yards and picked off two passes in notching the road triumph against the first-year Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) opponent. The Bulldogs also held DU to a two-of-16 (13%) showing on first down.
After a scoreless opening quarter which included an early 30-minute weather delay, the Bulldogs finally cracked the scoreboard with 9:38 to play in the first half on slot receiver Dion Earls' 22-yard TD run. It finished a short two-play, 23-yard drive that was setup on an interception from senior cornerback Tavierre Thomas.
The Bulldogs built a 13-0 halftime lead as slot Devontae Harrington raced to the endzone on a one-yard scoring run with 2:26 to play in the second period to finish an eight-play, 42-yard jaunt.
Ferris State pushed its lead to 19-0 when sophomore quarterback Travis Russell found paydirt on a two-yard TD run with 1:15 remaining in the third to cap a 12-play, 48-yard FSU drive.
Finally, the Bulldogs later added their fourth score of the day when Russell found wideout Keyondre Craig on a 15-yard scoring connection with 12:34 remaining in the game to account for the final margin. It finished a six-play, 39-yard scoring drive.
The Bulldogs totaled 367 total yards in the game, including 215 on the ground on 46 attempts. Russell paced FSU with a career-high 121 rushing yards and completed seven-of-26 passes for 103 yards and a score after stepping in for starting quarterback Reggie Bell.
Senior receiver Brandon Walker paced the Bulldog wideouts with a team-high three catches for 66 yards with Craig making two grabs for 45 yards.
For Davenport, William James came on as the third quarterback for the Panthers after the Bulldogs knocked the first two signal callers out of the contest and completed four-of-12 throws for 65 yards. He also ran for 20 yards on nine carries with William Gist picking up a team-best 40 yards on 15 attempts. Deondre Moore led the DU wideouts with four catches for 49 yards.
The Bulldogs were led defensively by junior end Zach Sieler, who finished with a squad-high 10 tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss. Senior linebacker Nick Huckabay added five tackles while Thomas had four stops, two pass breakups and an interception.
The win over Davenport came in the first meeting against a Panther squad guided by former FSU assistant and Bulldog alum Sparky McEwen, who took over the program this year following five seasons on the Ferris State staff under head coach Tony Annese.
Ferris State, which is ranked fourth in the latest NCAA Division II Super Region Three Rankings, will visit Michigan Tech for its regular-season finale on Saturday, Nov. 11, at Sherman Field in Houghton. Kickoff is set for 12 p.m. (ET) in the Upper Peninsula.