The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

No. 4 GV Football topples reigning back-to-back national champs in No. 1 Ferris

GVL / Macayla Cramer

Two archrivals and titans of the college football world met on Saturday, Oct. 14 as the No. four ranked Grand Valley State University Lakers (5-1) defeated the reigning national champions, the No. one ranked Ferris State University Bulldogs (4-2), 49-28 at Lubbers Stadium in Allendale, Mich. The game was one of the most highly anticipated matchups of the Anchor-Bone Classic’s rivalry history.

The hype surrounding the matchup was palpable as GVSU students posted all over Yik Yak, an anonymous social media platform where people in the same area, college or university can post with each other. Throughout the preceding week students were posting FSU hate:  “me: f*** ferris. cashier: sir this is a Wendy’s,” and “Absolutely no red tomorrow down to your underwear bro, do not wear red at lubbers.”

Yik Yakers even posted on game day commenting on the rainy weather conditions and the FSU rivalry, “smells like wet dog. oh wait, Ferris…,” and “Rain? Snow? Mf tornado?? Nah nothing stopping me from going to this game #F*** FERRIS #GETWETLAKERS.”

The two programs have now played in 12-straight ranked matchups, as the Lakers won in the 2022 regular season meeting, toppling top-ranked FSU 22-21 in Big Rapids, Mich. before falling at home to the Bulldogs 24-21 in the second round of the playoffs.

Beating the reigning back-to-back national champions has not been easy in the past for the Lakers.

“This rivalry, through the decades, has been very one-sided decade by decade and we wanted to make sure that the 2020s got off to this start,” Lakers’ head coach Scott Wooster said. “We talked about a belief, something just outside of your grasp that you haven’t quite done yet, and that’s what you just saw.”

Wooster now moves to 5-1 in his career, winning his inaugural game against FSU as GVSU’s head man, while Bulldogs’ legend Tony Annese lost just his nineteenth game, falling to 119-19. 

“We all believe in the guy (Wooster), we’ve always believed in him. We knew we were going to come out and play our game,” Lakers’ junior quarterback Avery Moore said. “We knew what we had to do and we were following a good leader.” 

Out of the gate, GVSU was extraordinarily aggressive on both sides of the ball, with several key components of the bold game plan coming to fruition. After a shanked FSU punt, the Lakers made their mark with an aerial attack on their first play from scrimmage. Cade Peterson took a deep shot to wide receiver Cody Tierney, who hauled in an over-the-shoulder grab from the veteran quarterback, a gutsy play call on the 36-yard score.

“We knew the whole week that the first play was gonna be that play, and I was excited that he pressed the first time, and I knew that Cade was gonna give me a dot. I just went up and grabbed it, and it was awesome,” Tierney, who was the team’s leading receiver with four catches for 74 yards and two touchdowns, said. “Growing up, I mean, I’ve always known about the Anchor-Bone Classic. Having big plays in those moments and this game- it was one of those dream-come-true kind of things, and it just felt amazing.”

Tierney made multiple big plays in the game, but the ‘X factor’ was Moore, who led the Lakers in rushing with nine carries for 131 yards and two touchdowns. All three of his scores were from 30-plus yards out, tacking on a 30-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Kyle Nott in the first quarter. Nott made a “Sportscenter Top 10” worthy highlight-reel grab, snagging the ball with one hand as he fell backward into the endzone.

“That’s a play we were working on all week. Safety came down, so right when he came down I knew the ball was gonna go to me. I ran my route, Avery threw a good back-shoulder ball, and at the end of the day, I just went up and got it and did what I do,” Nott said.

There was a theme of scripted play calls that worked to a tee for GVSU. Multiple players in the postgame press conference praised the coaching staff’s game plan, saying that they just “executed.”

After going up 21-0 early in the second quarter with a 37-yard touchdown run by Moore and the 30-yard Nott touchdown grab, the Lakers pulled a rabbit out of their hat with an early onside kick. It was highly unconventional, to say the least, but it worked, and the aggressiveness of the Lakers’ proved to be a crucial difference in the game. Wooster attributed the play calling to his team’s mindset and his coaching staff: defensive coordinator Jim Louis, offensive coordinator Matt Vizthum and special teams coordinator Jacob Studdard.

“Yeah, we went to work on that (the onside kick). Again, taking advantage of a schematic thing there. We’re aggressive, we’re aggressive by nature. Calculated aggressiveness,” Wooster said.

Moments later a pick-six from Cardamone deep in FSU territory kept the momentum moving for GVSU, who was now on top 35-0 versus the number one team in the nation. In a matter of one and a half minutes, the score had gone from 14-0 to 35-0.

“I’m in awe every time our defense goes out there just because I’m thankful I don’t have to face them,” Peterson said.

The Lakers knew that FSU would not go away quietly and knew that going forward it would be about hanging onto their lead.

“There was a piece of me that knew, get to the fourth quarter. We’ve still gotta go to work on these second and third quarters, but I knew who we were in the fourth quarter and that was a big part of it. I think there was a calmness and a presence on the sidelines,” Wooster said.

After benching starting quarterback Mylik Mitchell, FSU stormed back to make it a two-score game before the half with the help of quarterback Carson Gulker. The Lakers surrendered 21 points in the second quarter, but Gulker’s time on the field would be somewhat short-lived. Gulker, the highly successful quarterback, known as a runner but who passed on all of his scores, was pulled for Mitchell who led the Bulldogs on a touchdown drive late in the third quarter. Suddenly, it was 35-28 and a one-score game.

Mitchell and the Bulldogs struggled for the rest of the night on offense, failing to score in the fourth quarter. The Lakers, however, put up two touchdowns in the final 13 minutes. Moore stepped up huge yet again, this time breaking through a massive hole at the line of scrimmage, hitting the sidelines and accelerating through two tackles en route to a 44-yard rushing score early in the fourth. From then on, FSU struggled to move the ball and a late Peterson touchdown pass to Jordan Johnson sealed the game 49-28.

In a night full of big plays, GVSU pulled off touchdowns of 30, 36, 37 and 44 yards on offense. Wooster felt that the attention on the Bulldogs’ offense undermined his own.

“I got a thousand questions this week about ‘Ferris State’s offense,’ ‘Ferris State’s offense,’ and I’m not gonna talk badly about that because they are a good offense. But, we came into this game (ranked) number three in the country (on offense), and they came into this game number 12. I’m just hoping that question got asked over there (to FSU) too because what Coach Vitzthum does, he’s the best play caller in the country. You just saw that tonight,” Wooster said.

Following his first win over the Bulldogs, Wooster had his mind set on greater heights.

“Obviously I’m not gonna downplay the rivalry, but it was week seven and we went one-for-one and it puts us one step closer to what we wanna do,” Wooster said. 

Following the game, GVSU players were not devoid of confidence as the victory was no surprise to the Lakers.

“That was completely what we expected to happen,” Cardamone said.

Moore reiterated the same sentiment.

“Whole week of practice everyone was just locked in, practice was going well. We knew what we were going to do, we just executed our stuff,” Moore said.

GVSU will head to Marquette, Mich. to take on 0-7 Northern Michigan University at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 21. For now, Lakers fans will continue to celebrate their huge victory over despised FSU, that is until these two rivals may inevitably meet again in the playoffs.

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About the Contributor
Nelson Hubbell, Sports Editor
Nelson Hubbell is the Sports Editor for the Lanthorn for the 2023-2024 school year. A senior at Grand Valley State University, before his time with the Lanthorn, he was a staff writer for The Collegiate Live, Grand Rapids Community College's student publication where he was a student for two years. He worked for a restaurant for four and a half years in Holland, Mich. called Hops at 84 East, a place he holds close to his heart. During his time there he was a manager for roughly two years. He loves camping, hiking and being outside in general. He is super passionate about football, basketball, baseball and hockey and loves all things sports and competition. Nelson will be pursuing a career in sportscasting as a play-by-play broadcaster and or as an analyst after his time at GVSU. Graduating Winter 2024 Major: Multimedia Journalism