GVSU moves to 5-0 at Lubbers with 48-17 win over NMU

GVL / Robert Mathews
Junior Hersey Jackson recorded one carry for 28 yards against NMU

GVL / Robert Mathews Junior Hersey Jackson recorded one carry for 28 yards against NMU

Bryce Derouin

After the loss to Ferris State University, Laker head coach Matt Mitchell challenged his offensive line to get back to controlling the line of scrimmage.

The offense rose to the challenge—and then some—as the Grand Valley State University football team (5-2, 3-2 GLIAC) amassed 309 rushing yards in a shortened 48-17 win over Northern Michigan University (1-5, 1-5 GLIAC).

“We challenged our offensive line, and Northern Michigan was running a three-down front,” Mitchell said. “If you’re going to run a three-down front and we can’t line up and run the ball, that’s embarrassing. So we challenged our offensive line to run the ball, and I thought those guys responded.”

Junior running back Michael Ratay led GVSU on the ground, tallying 151 yards on 18 carries and scoring two touchdowns. Senior Chris Robinson chipped in with 61 yards on eight carries and a touchdown of his own.

“Obviously we had a great game plan going into it,” Ratay said. “We were going to focus on running the ball, and we had some great looks. A lot of the backs were getting into open space, and we wanted to get in open space and the second level real quick, so it was a lot of fun.”

Rain, hail and a porous Northern Michigan defense couldn’t put a stop to the GVSU offense. The Lakers were only slowed once the game was suspended.

Leading 48-17 with 12:55 left in the fourth quarter, the first of many lightning strikes appeared. The game was delayed at 9:26 EST, and both teams headed into the locker room.

After deliberation between GVSU athletic director Tim Selgo, the officials and Northern Michigan’s coaching staff, the parties involved considered it would still be a half hour wait after the last lightning strike, in addition to a 30-minute wait period for the players to warm up. Therefore, Selgo decided it was best that the game be called.

The game was presented before GLAIC commissioner Dell Robinson and a committee, who decided that the game would be considered a final and would therefore result in a win for GVSU.

“Weather was a factor the whole time,” Mitchell said. “We had rain, we had hail … It was kind of just a bizarre night in terms of the weather. I thought our kids battled through and handled that.”

Junior quarterback Heath Parling sat out after not throwing at all throughout the week. Junior Isiah Grimes made his fourth start of the year and exhibited no signs of rust after sitting out the previous two games. Grimes completed 13 of 22 passes for 240 yards and two touchdowns.

“It’s not the rhomboid tear that he had before,” Mitchell said about Parling. “It’s the AC joint on the top of the shoulder—probably a direct result of getting slammed down multiple times at Big Rapids. Just like anything, we’ll come in here and reassess it. I’ll probably know more Monday, if not Tuesday.”

Besides the 11-play, 74-yard touchdown drive before the half ended, the Northern Michigan offense struggled to sustain any drives. Injuries forced the Wildcats to start their third string quarterback, freshman Shaye Brown.

Brown finished the night converting 14 of 22 passes for 168 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

“We weren’t going to let them come in with a young freshman quarterback and let them throw the ball around the field on us,” senior cornerback Reggie Williams said. “We wanted to send a message that we’re better than what we’ve been showing on the back end, and we wanted to come out and prove that—especially with a freshman quarterback—so we took advantage of it.”

Williams picked off Brown, and senior Erik Thompson made an interception for the second consecutive game. Thompson’s interception came when Northern Michigan attempted a wide receiver pass.

GVSU will now look to have its first success on the road this season as it travels to take on Northwood University.

“It’s a road game that starts at noon, so hopefully our team is ready to go,” Mitchell said.