Ware, GVSU defense step up in 42-28 victory over Northwood

GVL / Robert Mathews
Quarterback Isiah Grimes steps back to throw a pass against Ferris State University.

GVL / Robert Mathews Quarterback Isiah Grimes steps back to throw a pass against Ferris State University.

Brady Fredericksen

Maybe the homecoming crowd was all the Grand Valley State University football team needed.

Coming in with a two-game losing streak, the Lakers (6-2, 5-2 GLIAC) snapped out of their slump in a big way, jumping on visiting Northwood University in the second half in a 42-28 victory.

The offense returned, but it was the defensive effort that keyed the Lakers’ victory.

“It seemed to me on the sideline that we were getting more penetration, more push,” said head coach Matt Mitchell. “It doesn’t matter who hands the ball off, when you’re getting that kind of push and stopping the run, still credit to some of our guys up front. I still thought our defense rose to the occasion.”

With quarterback Isiah Grimes back from injury, the GVSU offense broke out of its own mini-slump thanks to a number of big plays on offense. Grimes threw four touchdowns, three of which came from 30 or more yards.

Senior receiver Charles Johnson was on the receiving end of two, one being a screen pass he took 60 yards to put the Lakers up 42-14 just seconds into the second half.

The Lakers’ running game also came to life. Freshman tailback Kirk Spencer ran for 129 yards, while junior Hersey Jackson ran for 68 yards and two touchdowns in his second game of the season.

The backfield duo did turn the ball over three times, two of which came on Spencer fumbles.

While Northwood entered the game with one of the top rushing attacks in the conference, it was without its leading rushers in quarterback Aaron Shavers (injury) and fullback Cameron Jackson (suspension).

That was enough for the GVSU defense to find its groove.

The Lakers held the Timberwolves to just 176 yards on the ground, 54 yards under their season average. The team also allowed the first completed pass against Northwood — a one-yard touchdown toss late in the second quarter — since 2010.

Luther Ware led the defense with 11 tackles, five for loss, and 2.5 sacks. The Lakers also saw production from two defenders who missed games in recent weeks. Defense end Matt Judon notched a sack and eight tackles, while linebacker Sam Power wrapped up six tackles in the win, their first action in three weeks.

“Yesterday, we sat in the meeting room and we all talked together and we felt like we had to come in this game and have fun actually, and play with a lot of energy,” Ware said. “These last two weeks we haven’t been having fun … we love everybody on the team and the more people we have, the better we’ll be.“

The win marked the 14th-straight homecoming win for the Lakers. GVSU will return to action next week on the road against first-place Hillsdale College.

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