Six turnovers lead to third-straight loss for GV

GVL / Eric Coulter
The Lakers look on the game with dismay as they watch numerous fumbles and picks. The Lakers lost to the Oilers 20-26.

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GVL / Eric Coulter The Lakers look on the game with dismay as they watch numerous fumbles and picks. The Lakers lost to the Oilers 20-26.

Brady Fredericksen

Forcing turnovers will normally win you a football game, but turning it over yourself will lead to problems. Grand Valley State University’s football team found that out the hard way, turning it over six times in Saturday’s 26-20 loss against the University of Findlay.

Three interceptions by sophomore quarterback Heath Parling along three accompanying fumbles stymied the GVSU offense throughout the night and gave Findlay plenty of chances on offense. “We started getting to the point where you get five, six turnovers, that’s going to shake anyone’s confidence out there,” said GVSU head coach Matt Mitchell.

“At that point, people start getting a little tense about ball security and you don‘t play free and easy at that point.”
Those turnovers led to only seven Findlay points, which came on an Isaiah Ballard 39-yard return to start the second half, but despite the offense’s shortcomings, the GVSU defense was key in keeping the Lakers afloat.

“It was just, we knew we had to keep on fighting — that’s the mentality of our defense, keep fighting through all diversity,” said senior defensive lineman Andre Thomas, who finished with eight tackles.

Thomas and the defensive line played well in some passing situations, but struggled against the run. GVSU’s defense also took a potentially devastating hit late in the second quarter when senior defensive lineman Danny Richard left the game with an apparent knee injury; he did not return. “Preliminary report is not good, but I‘ll wait until I see what the doctors say,” Mitchell said. “Our sideline test was worst case scenario.”

The Findlay backfield of quarterback Clay Belton and running back Monterea Williams gave the Lakers fits throughout the game. Their execution of the option choice — a play in the shotgun where the quarterback either hands to the running back or keeps it himself — gashed the GVSU defense throughout. Belton finished the game with 210 total yards, 60 on the ground, while Williams put together a 109-yard game to go with a pair of touchdowns.

On the other side of the field, GVSU’s offense— which had been the team’s strong-suit in recent weeks — struggled. Along with Parling, the passing game struggled, as the sophomore only threw for 140 yards, while junior receiver Charles Johnson’s third quarter fumble led to a Findlay touchdown. “I never got in a rhythm and never felt comfortable about there throwing the ball,” Parling said. “I didn’t give our team a chance to win. I have a sick feeling in my stomach right now — it feels terrible.” Junior running back Hersey Jackson put together his best effort of his career in the loss, rushing for 127 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

“He ran like a man, he was really running hard,” Mitchell said. Despite their success in the first half, it was the defense that was unable to put together one last stop of the Findlay offense in the fourth quarter. Findlay, in a third-and-three with a little over a minute left, got a first down on a four-yard run by Williams, sealing a third-consecutive loss for the Lakers.

“There’s some irony in this thing because last week I told the team, defense, not good. Offense, good job, but not good enough,” Mitchell said. “This week, offense, obviously turning the ball over six times, you‘re never going to win one of those games; defense, good job, not good enough in order for us to win the ball game.” GVSU returns to the practice field looking for answers before taking on Tiffin University Saturday at 7 p.m. at Lubbers Stadium.

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