1st Round Rematch Opens The 2022 GLIAC Playoffs Slate
1st Round Rematch Opens The 2022 GLIAC Playoffs Slate
The 2022 NCAA Playoffs open with GLIAC counterparts Ferris State and Davenport facing off for the second time in three weeks.
A widely successful regular season on the gridiron for the GLIAC gives way to the Playoffs, with a trio of the conference’s programs heading into the postseason.
Two of the GLIAC’s three playoff qualifiers, we all expected to be among the field: No. 1-ranked Grand Valley State and defending national champion Ferris State. The Lakers and Bulldogs are joined by an upstart from Davenport, which went from 3-8 in 2021 to a school-record eight wins this season to earn the school’s first-ever playoff berth.
And wouldn’t you know it, the Davenport Panthers will square off with league rival Ferris State, looking to avenge a loss to the Bulldogs just two weeks ago.
While Ferris State and Davenport take the field for the 1st round, Grand Valley State — by virtue of being the top-seed in its Super Regional — will get a well-earned bye week and await the winner of an opening round game between Ouachita Baptist and perennial power Northwest Missouri State.
Davenport (8-2) at Ferris State (9-1)
In a bit of an unfortunate break for the GLIAC, Davenport’s two losses came in the last two weeks of the regular season to Ferris State and GVSU, sending the Panthers to the seventh and last spot into the playoffs, and — as a result — a rematch with the reigning champion Bulldogs.
The Panthers started the season 8-0, but closed with a 49-7 thumping at the hands of GVSU last week. They fell behind 42-0 in the first half, and finished with just over 300 yards of offense.
It was a "Burn the tapes and don’t look back" type of game.
The season will be on the line against last season’s national champions in Ferris State, which makes its eighth consecutive trip to the Playoffs after closing out the regular season with a 40-14 rout of Wayne State.
The Bulldogs came out strong and handled business immediately, scoring 30 of their points in the first half. Ferris State found its stride offensively in the latter-half of the season, and the regular-season finale was no expectation with the Bulldogs racking up 545 yards in the win. The defense reemphasized why it was one of the best in the nation all season, holding the Warriors to just 123 yards, 109 of them coming on their two scoring drives.
The two teams met just two weeks ago in a 28-7 Ferris State win that included a defensive touchdown. The Bulldogs then rendered the usually prolific Davenport offense a non-factor, completing their defense with an effective rushing attack to keep the ball away from the Panthers offense.
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Davenport actually trailed 14-7 early in the third quarter, but two Ferris State touchdown runs and a swarming defense prevented Davenport from getting any closer down the stretch.
The Panthers mustered just 183 yards and 11 first downs in the defeat, their first of the season, and tossed a pick six in the first quarter to put themselves in an early hole.
The key for Davenport — the nation’s leaders in scoring through the season’s first eight games before drawing Ferris State and GVSU — is finding a way to hit for some big plays. Getting all-league honoree Sy Barnett — surprisingly, their only 1st Team offensive honoree — open for quarterback Jason Whittaker.
🏆Football Postseason Awards— Davenport Panthers (@DUAthletics) November 17, 2022
First Team All-GLIAC
Sy Barnett (WR)
Brandon Gielow (PK)
Austin Alward (DL)
Shaq Floyd (DB)
#DUingWork #D2FB pic.twitter.com/5IScq0rwXP
That will be a tough task against a Ferris State defense that saw five first-team All-GLIAC picks, including the league’s Player of the Year in Caleb Murphy. Murphy leads the nation in sacks (18) and tackles for loss (27). If Davenport is going to find a way to hit for big plays, keeping Murphy out of the backfield is a must.
Saturday’s winner will advance to the 2nd Round to face the Pittsburg State-UIndy winner. Pittsburg State is undefeated heading into the Playoffs, while UIndy’s lone defeat came against Saginaw Valley out of the GLIAC.
GVSU Awaits Ouachita Baptist-Northwest Missouri State Winner
While GLIAC foes square off, the top-ranked Lakers will have their eyes on another game, featuring the undefeated Tigers of Ouachita Baptist, and 9-2 Northwest Missouri State.
Ouachita posted a pair of Top 25 wins this season, including one over then-No. 7 Harding back in September, to put itself in the driver’s seat for the Great American Conference title. The Tigers averaged just under 45 points per game on the season, and dominated on the ground, posting nearly 3,400 rushing yards and 48 touchdowns.
They’ll take on a Northwest Missouri State team that earned an at-large berth out of the MIAA, behind league champion Pittsburg State.
The Bearcats got to this point with a dominant defense, one that held opponents to 16.3 points per game, and held offenses to just a 30 percent conversion rate on third downs — truly a game that will be a contrast of styles.
The winner may not matter much to GVSU, which has proven this season they can win any type of game.
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