Reaction from GVSU’s letdown at Lubbers

GVL/Kevin Sielaff
#40 Joe Moran

GVL/Kevin Sielaff

GVL/Kevin Sielaff #40 Joe Moran

Adam Knorr

On Sept. 4, the Grand Valley State University football team dropped a 26-23 double overtime heartbreaker against then-No. 22 Azusa Pacific University. After Saturday’s loss against No. 10 Ohio Dominican University, there isn’t much Laker heart left to break.

No. 18 GVSU dropped another tight contest to the Panthers 28-24. However, from an outside perspective, the game didn’t look too bad for the Lakers. GVSU played a top-10 team to a tight fourth-quarter finish, leading much of the game, but ultimately came up just short.

Call it a failure to capitalize. Call it a failure to execute. Call it whatever you will, but the bottom line is the Lakers had this one. It was theirs to lose, and ultimately they did.

With less than three minutes to go in the game, GVSU was clinging to a 24-21 lead. ODU had the ball deep in its own territory and the clock was more of an enemy than an ally. Then, Panther quarterback Mark Miller hooked up with wideout Dez Stewart for a 90-yard touchdown to give ODU a 28-24 lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

GVSU had its opportunities late. The Lakers failed to convert a fourth down with time winding down. The game appeared to be over, but senior cornerback DeVonté Jones gave them another chance after coming up with an interception in the GVSU end zone. The Laker faithful stayed, hoping for a miracle, but it never came. Dropped passes and unanswered prayers eventually led to GVSU being 0-2 for the first time since 2000.

Regardless, it’s tough to be upset with the way GVSU played for the majority of the game on Saturday. In the first half, the Laker defense surrendered just seven points (an 88-yard touchdown run from ODU’s Brandon Schoen). The front four looked strong, as did the linebackers and the secondary. The biggest fault from GVSU’s defense came with its inability to mute the big play, as ODU showcased two long touchdown plays on the night.

GVSU senior quarterback Heath Parling was in the zone when he had time in the pocket, but that wasn’t the case in the second half. ODU was able to bring pressure effectively because, for the second time in as many weeks, GVSU was unable to make plays in the running game.

GVSU totaled 318 yards of total offense in the contest, and just 26 of which came on the ground. The multi-pronged rushing attack figured to be one of the team’s biggest strengths heading into the season, but so far, few things could be further from the truth.

Kirk Spencer, Chris Robinson and Michael Ratay have struggled to generate momentum, so pass rushers are running right by them on play-action plays. It’s hard to pinpoint where the blame falls, but if the Lakers don’t figure it out quickly, next week’s game at Ferris State could spell disaster yet again.

With GVSU’s storied tradition comes high expectations. The coaches and players know that as well as anyone. Preseason rankings had GVSU at No. 2 in the nation, but obviously preseason rankings at the Division II level are nothing more than speculation. To be fair, the schedule to this point has been anything but a breeze, but the Laker faithful expect more out of their squad – and the Lakers expect more out of themselves.

There is still plenty of time to turn things around despite the 0-2 start. GVSU is still GVSU, and, as such, should never be counted out of a game or a season. With a win next week, the Lakers have a legitimate shot at finishing with a 9-2 regular season record, the same as last year. With a loss next week, however, it could be time to hit the panic button.