Big three: GVSU football crushes NMU on the road

Nick Dodson and Jack Provencher collaborate during GVSUs season opener against Indianapolis. GVL / Sheila Babbitt

Nick Dodson and Jack Provencher collaborate during GVSU’s season opener against Indianapolis. GVL / Sheila Babbitt

Brady McAtamney

The Grand Valley State football team has started the season 3-0 for the first time since 2016 after making the six-and-a-half hour bus ride to Marquette, Mich. where they beat the Northern Michigan Wildcats 47-17. The Lakers are now 3-0 and 1-0 in GLIAC play. 

Led by quarterback Bart Williams, GVSU’s offense nearly matched their scoring output from the first two games of the season combined. The senior completed 17 of 28 pass attempts for 280 yards and four touchdowns and, with the scores, Williams tied – and then passed – Cullen Finnerty for second place in GVSU football history in touchdown passes with 112.

Wide receiver Nick Dodson caught eight passes for 129 yards and two touchdowns after missing last week’s game against Delta State. Five other players hauled in completions for the Lakers, signifying a balanced air attack for GVSU.

“I think the number one thing, we protected the quarterback and we ran the ball effectively,” head coach Matt Mitchell said. “I’ve got to give our offensive line and tight ends a lot of credit. Bart had a lot of clean pockets.”

The line allowed zero sacks and paved the way for a combined 250 team rushing yards led by running backs Chawntez Moss (20 rushes for 130 yards), Aryuan Cain-Veasey (four for 53) and Jack Provencher (seven for 36 and one touchdown). Williams and quarterback Cole Kotopka each added rushing scores of their own. 

Defensively, the Lakers held NMU to only 217 yards of total offense, marking the second time in three games that GVSU has held opponents to under 220 total yards. Additionally, they wrapped up Wildcat signal-callers for sacks twice and forced one turnover on a fumble. 

“We did a really good job of stopping the designed run,” Mitchell said. “(NMU running back) Jake Mayon had one run that was decent but I think we did a really good job of stopping him. We had several opportunities to stop (quarterback Latrell Giles) in the backfield but we couldn’t get the guy down. That extended some drives. You also factor in the second-and-24 where we got a defensive holding penalty on an incompletion, and that could have been third-and-24.”

Despite the 31 point win and unscathed start to the season, the Lakers are still not content with their play and plan on getting even better.

“One thing I’d say about all three squads – offense, defense and special teams – I think there’s room for growth, room for improvement,” Mitchell said. “That’s what I think makes this so exciting too, it’s that we’ve had some stuff happen, had to burn some timeouts and there are times where we can be a better football team.”

With their two longest road trips out of the way by week three, GVSU returns home on Saturday, Sept. 22 to play the Michigan Tech Huskies (2-1, 0-1 GLIAC) at 7 p.m. during the school’s annual Family Weekend.

“I can’t even tell you how excited I am to get back home,” Mitchell said. “We put a lot of miles on buses and planes, we’ve had some injuries, some illnesses; we’ve been through stuff. There’s a lot of football left to be played but I’m proud of this group for being 3-0 and there’s a lot to be done to be even better.”