(Don’t publish) Panther Down: GVSU overcomes injuries, bad weather to beat Davenport 19-14

Kellen Voss


Panther Down: GVSU overcomes injuries, bad weather to beat Davenport 19-14

By Kellen Voss ([email protected])

Amidst multiple weather delays, the Grand Valley State football picked up another win on Saturday, Oct. 20, coming back in the fourth quarter to beat the Davenport Panthers 19-14. With the win, the Lakers move to 7-1 on the season.

In a game that included more than an hour of rain delays, a shoulder injury sustained by quarterback Bart Williams, and a Davenport team that made a lot of big plays, GVSU was still able to leave Caledonia with the win.

At the end of the first half, Williams took a sack to Davenport and landed awkwardly on his non-throwing shoulder. Although he didn’t return to the game, head coach Matt Mitchell is optimistic that Williams will be healed come next week.

“He tried to go back out there, but really couldn’t, so we had to throw in [backup quarterback Cole] Kotopka,” said Mitchell. “It wasn’t like Bart couldn’t play at all, but he wasn’t really functional, so we wanted to give Cole a chance to win the game.”

While it took Kotopka a series to get his feet wet, he was eventually able to lead the Lakers on the comeback, rushing for 32 yards and throwing for 81 more, including a 53-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Nick Dodson that would be the eventual game winner.

Dodson credited the Davenport defensive backs for their complex coverages but felt a responsibility to perform for his fellow receivers and executed when his name was called.

“They had a good gameplan, they were playing someone underneath and over top,” said Dodson. “I got the ball, was able to make one defender miss and was able to split the last two defenders and get into the end zone. Up until that point, the receiving crew wasn’t as explosive as we usually are, so I just wanted to perform for the team.”

Kotopka and Dodson weren’t the only Lakers to make key contributions on offense, as running back Chawntez Moss rushed for 106 yards, including a 22-yard burst for the first touchdown of the game. Austin Paritee led all GVSU receivers with 127 yards receiving.

The two rain delays didn’t allow the game to really flow like either team would have wanted, as the sub-40 degree weather, harsh winds and never-ending rain combined for nasty weather in Caledonia.

“It threw everything off because the wind was really a factor,” Mitchell said. “The constant start and stop really hurt us. Today was kind of off in general, but we found a way to survive it, and credit Davenport since they fought hard.”

Even though the Lakers now sit at 7-1, they are far from a perfect team, as Mitchell would really like to see this team execute better in short-yardage situations.

“We stink on short yardage, we can’t convert third-and-ones,” Mitchell said. “Chawntez Moss weighs 220 [pounds], and we still couldn’t get a first, so we got to take a look at our short yard plays, because it wasn’t very good today.”

Although GVSU was able to pull out the win late in the game, this was a rather underwhelming performance by the Lakers. They went into the game expecting to blow out the Panthers, but Davenport had momentum for most of the contest and even led for a good portion of the fourth quarter.

A deep playoff run has been a long-established goal for this football team, but if they expect to make that run, they need to dominate games like this. Despite an ugly win, Coach Mitchell was proud of the way his team was able to battle through adversity and play with poise against the Panthers.

“We didn’t play good football at all, but I’m proud of our guys for sticking together,” Mitchell said. ‘Things were not going good, but none of our guys faded. We have high character kids, and I think it showed at the end of the game.”

The Lakers look to improve upon their overall record and their GLIAC record (7-1, 4-1) this weekend, as they travel to Saginaw Valley State to play the Cardinals on Saturday, October 27. The battle of the valleys is set to kick off at 1 p.m.