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Ferris State Advances To D2 National Semi-Final For Second Straight Season As Defense Shines

Ferris State Advances To D2 National Semi-Final For Second Straight Season As Defense Shines

Postgame Highlights - Scoring Plays Video
FSU Postgame Press Conference Video
NW Missouri Postgame Press Conference Video
Postgame Highlight Package Video  

Big Rapids, Mich. - For the second-straight season and the third time in four years, the top-seeded Ferris State University Football team advanced to the Division II National Semifinals with a 25-3 victory over the third-seeded Northwest Missouri State Bearcats on Saturday (Dec. 7) at Top Taggart Field.

With the win, FSU will be the top seed for the national semifinals and host West Florida on Saturday, Dec. 14, with kickoff set for 3:30 p.m. (ET) at Top Taggart Field.

Through 45 minutes of play, just 13 combined points had been scored in the contest as the defensive units owned the day. Ferris State tacked on 15 fourth quarter points to eventually pull away from Northwest Missouri State. The Bulldog defense stonewalled the Bearcat offense all day, as Ferris State allowed only 158 yards on 61 plays for an average of 2.5 yards allowed per play.

Both teams battled through the first quarter scoreless. The Bulldogs took advantage of good field position early in the second quarter when junior defensive back Sidney McCloud picked off Northwest Missouri State quarterback Braden Wright out near midfield. Ferris State senior kicker Jackson Dieterle drilled a 35-yard field goal to draw first blood with 9:02 remaining in the first half.

Ferris State managed to drive 75 yards in 94 seconds near the end of the half, but Northwest Missouri State stuffed the Bulldogs on Northwest's two-yard line to close the half with Ferris State leading 3-0.

The Bulldogs picked up the decisive score quickly in the second half, as Ferris State drove 76 yards on eight plays in 3:10, capped off by a three-yard quarterback draw when FSU senior QB Travis Russell pounded his way over the goal line to give the Bulldogs a 10-0 lead with 11:44 remaining in the third quarter.

Northwest picked up their only points of the game when NWMSU kicker Parker Sampson hit a 27-yard field goal to cut the Bulldog lead to 10-3 with 5:47 to play in the third frame.

Early in the fourth quarter, Dieterle again extended the Bulldog lead, hitting from 20 yards out to give Ferris State a 13-3 lead on his second field goal of the day with 10:34 to play. Again, Dieterle extended the lead with 6:28 remaining with his third field goal of the afternoon from 31 yards for a 16-3 FSU lead.

Special teams again proved to be major factor for the Bulldogs, as Dieterle hammered a 51 yard punt that bounced out of play on the Northwest Missouri State eight-yard line. On the second play of the drive, Ferris State senior defensive end and Gene Upshaw Award winner for Division II National Lineman of the Year Austin Edwards broke through Northwest's offensive line and dropped NWMSU QB Jadyn Kowalski for a safety to give Ferris State an 18-3 lead with 3:03 left.

Northwest Missouri State attempted an onside kick on the ensuing free-kick, but Ferris State redshirt freshman receiver CJ Jefferson recovered the football.

The Bulldogs put the final score on the board on that drive, when senior running back Marvin Campbell dashed 32 yards to the endzone for his 10th touchdown of the season with 1:26 remaining in the fourth quarter for the 25-3 final.

Ferris State racked up 465 yards of offense on a 5.7 yards per play average, while holding Northwest Missouri State to 158 on the day including just 62 rushing.  

Individually, Russell led the Bulldogs with 264 yards passing on 13 completions for the day. Ferris State sophomore wide receiver Xavier Wade made four grabs for 81 yards, while Jefferson made four for 75. Senior slot receiver Jevon Shaw had a pair of catches for 84 yards including a 69-yard scamper on the day. 

Ferris State will take on the West Florida Argonauts on Saturday, Dec. 14 in the NCAA Div. II Football National Semifinals at Top Taggart Field. The game will be televised live across the country on ESPN3 and tape-deplayed on ESPNU. It will represent the Bulldogs' first-ever national semifinal at home.