Lakers shut down T-Wolves in 35-10 win

GVL Archive
Senior Zach Breen makes a tackle in last years match. This year the Lakers were victorious 35-10

GVL Archives

GVL Archive Senior Zach Breen makes a tackle in last year’s match. This year the Lakers were victorious 35-10

Brady Fredericksen

After Saturday’s 35-10 victory over Northwood University, the Grand Valley State University football team showed that it’s not going down without a fight and may have played its way into consideration for a NCAA Division II playoff berth.

“You never know what can happen, but we just need to keep this momentum going — whether its special teams, offense or defense, we need to mind our P’s and Q’s in the game,” said sophomore safety Erik Thompson, “It’s all about having fun. Effort equals fun, and how much effort we give shows how much fun we have.”

Effort and fun were key for the Lakers (7-3, 6-3 GLIAC) Saturday as they put together an offensive effort of 8.4 yard per play and 28 first-half points against the Timberwolves (2-8, 1-8 GLIAC).

Led by sophomore quarterback Heath Parling, who threw for 164 yards while also running for 53, the Lakers scored big in the first half thanks to three touchdown receptions by junior receiver Charles Johnson and a consistent rushing attack.

“Playing well at a high level every week is always good,” said junior safety Jarrod Cox. “You always expect to play better and improve from the last week, and we’re just out there playing for each other. We’re all that we’ve got, so we just go out there and try to have fun every week.”

Red-shirt freshman running back Michael Ratay highlighted some of that fun with a 105-yard day with one touchdown. The ground game was inconsistent, however, with many of its 271 yards coming on long runs, but it still helped to set up those Parling-to-Johnson connections.

The duo’s improved play as the season has progressed has been a big reason for the offense’s explosive play this year. Johnson scored in a variety of ways Saturday, including a bubble screen that he took 24 yards to paydirt in the second quarter.

“We struggled to run the ball here and there, but Heath did a good job managing things and he threw some nice balls to Jovonne [Augustus] and Charles for touchdowns,” Mitchell said. “I think both have been playing really well, but us having a running game has helped them out too. We aren’t a two-man team, and we have balance, which has helped open things up for Charles.”

After scoring 14 straight points to get within a touchdown of GVSU in last season’s game, the Timberwolves attempted a similar comeback on Saturday. Following a Cameron Jackson touchdown that cut the lead to 18 points, Northwood recovered a Jackson fumble on the ensuing play and took over with 7:20 left in the game.

But the Laker defense stopped the drive on fourth down, continuing the unit’s strong play in the second half of the season.

Sophomore linebacker Zach Galloway played well for the second time in as many weeks on Saturday, recording 11 tackles for a GVSU defense that recorded four sacks and did not allow a completed pass against the option-oriented Northwood offense.

Despite the Timberwolves’ unorthodox attack in the Woodbone offense, GVSU had success in containing the big-play ability it holds. Northwood quarterback Aaron Shavers left the game early in the first half with a lower-leg injury, and the Lakers smothered his replacement, Dan Nugent.

The red-shirt freshman accounted for minus-6 yards of total offense, including 0-for-3 passing with an interception to sophomore safety Erik Thompson, who also blocked a punt in the first quarter.

We got off to a great start and our defense was very dominant in the first half,” said Mitchell, whose defense held Northwood to only 54 yards in the first half, and 111 yards in the game. “Our kids were executing our game plan well and were flying around. It’s one of those games where you feel so good about going on the road and getting a 35-10 win, but we could have executed better in the second half on both sides of the ball.”

The Lakers are now the winners of six straight games and will look to end the season with another win, this time in the Battle of the Valleys against Saginaw Valley State University on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Allendale.

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