Ferris State's D2 Playoff Run Comes To Finish In National Semifinals

FSU

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Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University Bulldogs' NCAA Division II Playoff run came to a finish on Saturday (Dec. 14) night as West Florida pulled out a 28-14 run over FSU in the national semifinals at Top Taggart Field.

In a battle between the last two national runner-ups, the Bulldogs took a 14-7 lead in the third quarter and were driving towards another potential score near the end of the period before a fumble bounced thru the endzone and resulted in a touchback.

The fumble was one of six turnovers in the game for Ferris State in the Bulldogs' third trip to the national semifinals in the past four years. It denied FSU a return trip to the national championship game in McKinney, Texas.

West Florida struck first as the Argonauts marched 75 yards in eight plays on the opening drive of the contest to take an early 7-0 lead on quarterback Austin Reed's 34-yard scoring pass to Tate Lehtio.

However, Ferris State answered back near the end of the opening stanza when tailback Tyler Minor found paydirt on a six-yard scoring run to finish an 11-play, 61-yard FSU drive.

The score stood until the opening drive of the third period when FSU moved 65 yards in seven plays to surge ahead 14-7 on senior slot receiver Dion Earls' 11-yard scoring run.

After a 21-yard West Florida field goal from Austin Williams pulled UWF back within four points, Ferris State got the ball back and drove down the field and was nearing another score when senior QB Travis Russell found wideout Xavier Wade at the one-yard line on a long throw. However, the ball popped loose thru the endzone, resulting in the touchback and momentum changed.

The Argonauts took advantage of four Bulldog fumbles in the final half, first pulling within 14-13 on Williams' 25-yard field goal with 10:56 to play. They then capitalized on another miscue and took a 21-14 lead with 10 minutes left on Reed's 18-yard throw to Lehito.

The final West Florida points came with 6:59 to play when Quentin Randolph hauled in a six-yard scoring throw from Reed, who finished with 299 passing yards and three scores on 18-of-44 passing. Four of the last five scoring drives for UWF were for 44 yards or less.

Ferris State finished with 378 yards of total offense to 366 for the Argonauts with the Bulldogs generating 255 yards on the ground to only 67 for West Florida.

Senior tailback Marvin Campbell paced FSU on the ground with 104 yards on 23 carries while Earls added 56 yards rushing. Russell went 12-of-26 in the air for 123 yards for the Bulldogs with senior Jevon Shaw catching three balls for 37 yards.

Ferris State's defense sacked Reed twice and came up with an interception in addition to a blocked punt in the game. Senior Omari McCauley paced the defense with 10 total tackles along with linebacker Sam Heyboer. Senior defensive end Austin Edwards had nine stops and a tackle for loss in the game.

The Bulldogs concluded the year with a 12-1 overall record en route to the national semifinals and a GLIAC Championship. It was FSU's second consecutive conference crown and this year marked the Bulldogs' fourth-straight trip to the national quarterfinals or beyond, which is the longest streak in the country. Saturday's contest marked the first-ever semifinal played at home for the Bulldogs and the latest game ever played in a year at Top Taggart Field.