GVSU, Ferris State Rematch Coming Saturday In National Quarterfinals
GVSU, Ferris State Rematch Coming Saturday In National Quarterfinals
GVSU and Ferris State have more than 50 games of history, and they'll meet again Saturday in the regional quarterfinals of the NCAA Division II Playoffs.
When the bracket was revealed for the NCAA Division II Playoffs, all eyes immediately went to the upper right quadrant, where Grand Valley State and Ferris State, a pair of legitimate title threats, were set up to meet in the regional final, if they both could take care of business beforehand.
While Ferris State rolled past fellow GLIAC member Davenport in the opening round, GVSU rested with a bye.
The two teams nearly both saw their seasons come to an end last week but found a way to survive and advance.
Both teams won by less than a touchdown, and each won a defensive battle on their home field to set up a rematch of an October thriller, where GVSU pulled out a win in the game's final minutes.
Grand Valley State Vs. Ferris State
There are no secrets when it comes to GVSU and Ferris State.
The Anchor Bone rivals have met 54 times over the course of the series, including Oct. 15 of this year, when the Lakers eked out a 22-21 win in Big Rapids that proved to be the difference in the GLIAC title race. That's also what gave the Lakers home-field advantage for this Saturday's matchup.
As if 54 games of history didn't provide enough disdain for the two rivals, this marks the fourth playoff matchup between the two teams since the 2015 season.
Ferris State has claimed the last two playoff games between the two squads, rolling last season by a 54-20 final. The teams alternated wins in the 2015 and 2016 postseasons.
Saturday's rematch nearly didn't happen, however, as both teams had to sweat out tight games last week against opponents from middle America, with Ferris State booting a fourth-quarter field goal to top Pittsburg State 17-14, and GVSU scoring a late touchdown to top Northwest Missouri State, 13-8.
Ferris State looked like it might roll in its game against the Gorillas, jumping out to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter, but the Pittsburg State defense turned the game around with a pick-six late in the second quarter to cut the lead in half. They tied the game late in the third quarter after starting the drive in Ferris State territory.
But the Bulldogs settled in, and on a nine-play drive that reached the Pittsburg State 3-yard line, Eddie Jewett drilled what proved to be the game-winner, a 20-yard field goal with just under 10 minutes remaining.
From there, it was a heroic effort from the Bulldog defense, which forced a three and out, a turnover on downs, then forced the Gorillas to try a 44-yard field goal that sailed wide right with three seconds left.
The EIGHT are GREAT.— NCAA Division II (@NCAADII) November 27, 2022
Turner Sports' @WayneCavadi_D2 breaks down #D2FB's second round and previews next weekend's quarterfinals.@gvsufootball 💪@FerrisFootball 😤@WingateFb 🚅@UWFFootball 😱
📎: https://t.co/rcOj7RsZ9Y pic.twitter.com/9jPfd7NcRa
In truth, Ferris State might be lucky to have advanced, turning the ball over five times in the loss - a trio of interceptions and two fumbles - keeping the Gorillas in the game, something that must be cleaned up, if they hope to topple GVSU.
But the Ferris defense proved why it was a top-10 unit this season, holding PSU to just 217 yards of offense, despite giving them five extra chances with the ball.
While Ferris State nearly went to overtime, GVSU nearly went home.
The Lakers went up 7-0 late in the first quarter on a Tariq Reid score to cap an 89-yard drive, but from there, the offense stalled, and Northwest Missouri State did just enough to take the lead.
The Bearcats booted a 34-yard field goal in the second quarter, got a safety late in the third, then took an 8-7 lead with less than four minutes to go on a 25-yard kick.
With their backs to the wall, the Lakers answered with a five-play, 72-yard drive, capped by Reid scoring from seven yards out with less than two minutes to play.
The big play on the drive came when quarterback Cade Peterson hit Jahdae Walker for a 52-yard pass to reach the Northwest 11.
Following the score, the Laker defense, itself a top-10 unit this season, capped the game by getting a pair of sacks and an interception to secure their spot in the national quarterfinals.
NCAA ALL-TIME RECORD! Ferris State's Caleb Murphy has more sacks this season than any player in NCAA college football history after yesterday's monster performance! His 24.5 sacks to date tops the previous record of 24.0 sacks by Terrell Suggs of Arizona State in 2002! pic.twitter.com/za5idQrO7M— Ferris St. Football (@FerrisFootball) November 27, 2022
The normally efficient Lakers struggled on third and fourth downs in the win, going just 5-of-16 combined, while the Bearcats made life difficult for their passing attack, holding Peterson and company to just 10-of-24 passing, while sacking him three times.
As often is the case this time of year, it doesn't matter how you win, just as long as you do. That, of course, is what keeps the season alive.
All of those things now result in a rematch between maybe the top two teams in the country, and one where the Bulldogs are looking for revenge.
Ferris led the game in October by 12 points with under eight minutes to go, but a pair of rushing scores less than five minutes apart lifted the Lakers to the win and eventually the GLIAC crown.
Prior to this past week's game, the 22 points the Bulldogs held the Lakers to were the fewest GVSU scored all season.
While the Bulldogs feel like that October game got away from them, the Lakers have to be thinking they could have won by more. GVSU won nearly every offensive category in the game, and had it not been for a pair of untimely turnovers, the Lakers might have been able to run away from the Bulldogs.
As has been the case all season, it's two teams that are among the top 10 in scoring offense and defense, so we could see anything from a repeat of this past weekend, where the defenses shined, to a game where whomever has the ball last wins in an offensive showcase.
It's also not a stretch to say this could be a potential national-championship game. These are the only two teams that have held the No. 1 ranking this season. And, again, the only loss between the two was to each other back in October.
Add it all up, and there's potential for another classic.
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