GVSU wins its 24th straight game over Wayne State

Courtesy / Doug Witte 
Chris Robinson

Courtesy / Doug Witte Chris Robinson

Bryce Derouin

Whether it was offense, defense or special teams, the Grand Valley State University football team reaped the benefits of big plays in all three phases of the game.

GVSU (8-2, 6-2 GLIAC) had an 81-yard touchdown pass, forced five turnovers, and blocked a field goal that was returned for a touchdown in a 34-20 win over Wayne State University (3-7, 3-6 GLIAC).

“I thought all three phases kind of chipped in and helped us in the victory,” GVSU head coach Matt Mitchell said. “Were we perfect? No, we weren’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination in all three, but we kind of kept fighting and got the job done.”

It didn’t take long for the Lakers to get on the scoreboard. GVSU took the opening drive of the game 75 yards and capped it off with a 19-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Heath Parling to sophomore Jamie Potts.

“There were two really big drives by our offense,” Mitchell said. “One is the opening drive. We take it and go down and score seven points. On the defensive side of the ball, it helps you out a ton.”

The wide receiver screen game has been an important weapon for the GVSU offense all season long, and Saturday was no different.

Facing a third-and-2 from his own 19, Parling found senior wide receiver Brandan Green on the screen pass. From there, the offensive line and wide receivers opened up an alley, and Green outran the Wayne State defense 81 yards for the touchdown.

It didn’t take long for Wayne State to respond to Green’s score. Senior Val Showers took the short kick and returned it 85 yards for the touchdown to cut the Laker lead to 14-7.

The GVSU special teams unit redeemed itself later in the game.

Wayne State put together an impressive drive of its own, but it stalled out and the Warriors were forced to attempt a field goal. Junior defensive tackle Frank Boenzi got a hand on the kick, while senior Jordan Kaufman scooped up the ball and took it 56 yards for the touchdown to put GVSU up 24-7.

For Mitchell, the other big offensive drive of the game for GVSU came after Wayne State scored a touchdown on the first drive of the second half to make it a 24-14 game.

“After they scored on the opening kickoff in the third quarter, we went right back down the field and we kept the margin at 17,” Mitchell said. “Offensively, I thought we got a little bit more physical in the second half—started leaning on them more and controlled the clock.”

With the absence of junior back Michael Ratay (torn ACL and meniscus), senior running back Chris Robinson shouldered most of the load in the Laker running game. Robinson carried 21 times for 108 yards. Redshirt freshman Terrell Dorsey chipped in with 12 carries for 56 yards, and junior Ben Hutchins ran 12 times for 42 yards.

“Our offense really stepped up,” Mitchell said. “With Mike Ratay being out, we had to lean on some other guys to get the job done.”

Through the air, Parling finished the day completing 11 of 24 passes for 240 yards passing and two touchdowns.

On defense, GVSU took advantage of five Wayne State turnovers. Three of them came via the ball-hawking senior tandem in the secondary. Cornerback Reggie Williams recorded two interceptions, including a one-handed grab to close the first half, and safety Erik Thompson caught his fourth pick of the year.

“I think Wayne’s game plan was to try to run their quarterback and control the line of scrimmage,” Mitchell said. “I think the thing we did was we got them in some third and longs. With third and longs, they tried to take some shots down the field. Between Reggie Williams and Erik Thompson, they were there and made those plays.”

Junior cornerback DeVonte’ Jones and redshirt freshman Marquez Gollman both tallied fumble recoveries, while Kaufman and junior defensive end Matt Mosley led GVSU with nine tackles apiece.

The win sets the stage for a vital game next week in Allendale against Saginaw Valley State University (9-1, 9-0 GLIAC). A win for GVSU means a playoff berth. A loss would most likely mean the end of the 2013 season.

“We’ll get healed up and get back to work, and it’s obviously a big game coming up at Saturday against Saginaw,” Mitchell said. “If we win, we’re in. If we lose, we’re out. It’s a playoff game.”

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