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

Bring out the brooms, GV football sweeps Ferris to advance in playoffs

Courtesy GVL / Macayla Cramer

The No. 2 ranked Grand Valley State University Lakers’ football team knocked the No. 3 Ferris State University Bulldogs out of the playoffs for the first time since 2015.

With an impressive defensive effort and two second-half drives of explosive passing plays, GVSU came out on top against their archrival for the second time this season, a 21-14 victory.

Lakers’ head coach Scott Wooster, the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) Coach of the Year, is the first at GVSU to beat Ferris State twice in one season in over 20 years.

“The thing about it is they’re a great football program. Obviously back-to-back champs. They had that win streak (six straight versus GVSU), all those things going on. So just beating a program of that caliber is awesome,” Wooster said.

The Bulldogs won the coin toss and deferred to the second half, so the Lakers trotted out first looking to take an early lead. Instead, GVSU quarterback Cade Peterson failed to connect with wide receivers Kellen Reed and Jordan Johnson on two deep shots, stalling out the opening drive and forcing a punt.

Fortunately for the Lakers’ offense, their defense bailed them out. The Bulldogs are known for trotting out multiple QBs and began the game with Carson Gulker (a better run threat) in shotgun formation on their first offensive play of the game.

Gulker rushed left, only to be met by Lakers’ linebacker Anthony Cardamone, who forced a fumble that was recovered by GLIAC Defensive Lineman of the Year Christian McCarroll at the Bulldogs’ 15-yard line.

That set up an eventual touchdown run by Lakers’ veteran tailback Tariq Reid from seven yards out to put GVSU up 7-0 early in the game.

With an early Ferris State mistake, the momentum shift struck fear into the eyes of Bulldogs fans who had seen an eerily similar scenario nearly a month prior- this time without their head coach.

Tony Annese was suspended for the team’s first playoff game but was still allowed to attend as a fan. Questions swirled as to whether or not Annese would show his face, but he was eventually spotted outside of Lubbers Stadium after the game having just shared words with and given a hug to Wooster.

Courtesy GVL / Macayla Cramer

A Grand Valley Lanthorn photographer, Macayla Cramer, snapped a shot of him as he walked away from the venue with his wife.

With or without Annese, neither team scored in the way that they had in the Oct. 14 matchup in which the Lakers came out on top  49-28. A GVSU team that had put up 35 points in the first 18 minutes in the two teams’ first meeting struggled to move the ball against a stout Ferris State defense.

The same would be said for the Bulldogs against the Lakers until late in the first half. With 2:01 remaining and all three timeouts, QB Mylik Mitchell marched down the field for the Bulldogs’ first score of the game five seconds remaining, hitting wide receiver Tyrese Hunt-Thompson for a 7-yard touchdown.

Hunt-Thompson was suspended for the remainder of the last postseason after hitting a GVSU player with his helmet in a postgame scuffle.

Now Ferris State, who had earlier deferred the kickoff, had a chance to double up on points to begin the second half after scoring at the end of the first.

Rather, the Lakers’ defense stood up and forced a three-and-out to begin the half. The Bulldogs would fail to score until the final moments of the game as the offensive struggles would continue for both teams until late in the third quarter.

With less than a minute remaining in the third, the Lakers scored when QB Cade Peterson, the GLIAC Offensive Player of the Year, completed two back-to-back 25-plus yard passes as the dam broke on the Bulldogs’ defense.

“Yeah, it kind of broke. You just keep on pounding on that rock on that rock. And finally, it broke a little bit,” Wooster said.

First, Peterson hit his favorite target and the team’s leading receiver, Cody Tierney, for a 27-yard completion. That set up Darrell Johnson on a deep crossing route that the wideout took in from 29 yards out with the help of a sideline-sealing block from Reid.

One drive later, the GVSU defense forced another crucial three-and-out.

“Honestly when you’re put in hard situations that’s when the real prevail. We’re built for moments like that,” senior linebacker Abe Swanson said. “It’s just our job, put out that fire. Get the ball back to our offense. Let them go to work. That’s the mentality that we have, and I think all the guys embrace it.”

Peterson then found Tierney, who was running free in the middle of the secondary, for a 72-yard bomb. That score brought the Lakers’ lead to 21-7 early in the fourth quarter, which they would maintain for the ensuing 12 minutes.

That is until the 18-second mark when GVSU punter Trace Hrgich fumbled a low snap in the final moments of the game, leading to a Gulker touchdown pass to wide receiver Xavier Wade. Just like that, it was 21-14, and the Bulldogs recovered an onside kick from slot receiver and kicker Brady Rose, giving them a chance with 16 seconds remaining.

A game-sealing sack by GVSU’s Nile King at Ferris State’s 37-yard line ended the game as the clock ran out, giving the Lakers the season’s sweep over their arch-nemesis.

“We got 14 seniors that have just poured their heart and soul in this thing and sacrificed so much, and I love them so much. You know, it’s beatin’ Ferris and all those things, but I get to be with them for seven more days now for sure,” Wooster said.

Including several seniors, the Lakers had 14 All-GLIAC first-team selections, four second-team selections and five honorable mentions.

GVSU (11-1) will now welcome the third seed in NCAA Super Region 3, the No. 5 nationally ranked Pittsburg State University Gorillas (11-1) to Lubbers Stadium in Allendale, Michigan for a 1 p.m. kickoff on Saturday, Nov. 25.

More to Discover
About the Contributor
Nelson Hubbell
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