2022 Ferris State vs Grand Valley State - NCAA Quarterfinals

Div-II Playoffs: Ferris State With Revenge Over GVSU In Quarterfinals

Div-II Playoffs: Ferris State With Revenge Over GVSU In Quarterfinals

Ferris State scored revenge for its only loss on the season with a playoff quarterfinal win over Grand Valley.

Dec 5, 2022 by Ron Balaskovitz
Highlights: Ferris State Vs. GVSU

It might seem presumptive to suggest, but when Ferris State and Grand Valley State meet on the football field, chances are you’re going to see a down-to-the-wire thriller.

That was again the case Saturday afternoon in Allendale, as the visiting Bulldogs flipped the script from the regular season on the host Lakers, rallying from a fourth quarter deficit to top the hosts 24-21, punching their ticket to the Div. II national semifinals in the process, where a showdown with West Florida, which dominated Wingate, awaits.

In October it was Grand Valley who erased a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit to comeback and claim a 22-21 victory that ultimately decided the regular season GLIAC crown, and the top-seed in the playoff regional.

Ferris State got the ultimate revenge in the rematch, trailing by seven early in the fourth quarter after a GVSU interception was returned to the Ferris two, followed by a Tariq Reid touchdown run that made it 21-14. But the Bulldogs proved why they are the defending champions, keeping GVSU off the board the rest of the way, while controlling the ball and the clock.

The Laker touchdown broke a string of seven punts in eight drives between the two teams, but the Bulldogs answered with a 14-play, 53 yard drive that took the clock down inside six minutes before Carson Gulker’s two-yard plunge knotted it 21-21.

A three-and-out from the Bulldog defense put the offense right back on the field, and another lengthy drive ensued, going 65 yards in seven plays before stalling at the GVSU one-yard line. Rather than risk a short run for the potential touchdown, kicker Eddie Jewett knocked home the 18-yard chip shot with little over a minute to play.

Despite the late lead, the game was far from over, with the Lakers starting their last chance drive at their own 45, and in five plays, reaching the Ferris State 34.

On a Cade Peterson deep shot towards the end zone as the clock wound down, senior Cyntell Williams used his 6-foot-2 frame to pick the pass off the goal line and preserved the win. 

GVSU outgained the Bulldogs 320-to-260, had the ball for nearly eight more minutes than the Bulldogs, and kept the Ferris passing attack under 50 percent and 120 yards. But a pair of interceptions from Peterson and five penalties proved enough of a difference, as did a Ferris rushing attack that averaged over four yards per carry on 32 totes against one of the top rushing defenses in the league.

That rushing attack proved to be the difference late, as CJ Jefferson had a 25-yard carry that was followed by a Mylik Mitchell 28-yarder to set up first and goal, and eventually the winning kick.

For Grand Valley State, the loss stings far more than just losing in the playoffs, and to a rival. This was setup to be the year for the Lakers, with a team that returned 18 starters and nearly 10 all-league players from last season’s team that only lost to Ferris. After October’s game, the Lakers might have been thinking this was their year.

Instead, it’s another year left wondering, 'What if?' for the four-time Div. II champions, as their title drought approaches two decades.

For Ferris State, the win was huge not just for bragging rights and continuing their chance at a second-straight national championship, but it also vaulted the Bulldogs to the top spot of the remaining four teams, and a home game against a West Florida squad that probably isn’t used to the winter condition that await in Big Rapids.

The Division II playoffs re-seed the remaining four teams ahead of the semifinals, with Ferris being named the No. 1 team, West Florida the No. 4, and in the other semifinal, Colorado School of the Mines at No. 2, and Shepherd at No. 3.

West Florida, the 2019 national champions, certainly won’t be an easy task for the Bulldogs, with an offense that ranked among the Top-10 in scoring for the season, and got a monster effort from its defense against Wingate.

The Argonauts scored four defensive touchdowns in the 45-14 romp, putting the Gulf South co-champions two wins away from their second title.