GVSU football emerges victorious

GVL / Robert Mathews
True Freshman Joe Robbins celebrating after a GVSU touchdown.

GVL / Robert Mathews

GVL / Robert Mathews True Freshman Joe Robbins celebrating after a GVSU touchdown.

Bryce Derouin

For one half, the Grand Valley State University football team looked like the No. 14 team in the

The Lakers wasted no time in giving Azusa Pacific University a rude welcoming to Lubbers Stadium.
In the first matchup between these two schools, GVSU scored the first 31 points of the game en
route to a 38-17 victory.

“There’s positives to take away from the game both offensively and defensively and special teams,”
GVSU head coach Matt Mitchell said. “In the first half, I think our defense was really controlling the
line of scrimmage and putting pressure on the quarterback and really keeping them off balance.”

Azusa Pacific didn’t pack it in even after trailing 31-0 in the third quarter. They continued to run
the read option out of their spread formation and had success on the ground, tallying 196 rushing
yards for the game.

“They started hitting us with a few things in the third quarter in the run game, and we didn’t do a
great job of adjusting to some of the things they were doing in the run game,” Mitchell said. “I was
just disappointed to the middle part and the end of the third quarter that our defense wore down a
little bit, especially upfront.”

The Lakers managed to have their own success on the ground, accumulating 185 rushing yards,
including a 73-yard touchdown run by junior running back Michael Ratay, which is tied for the 14th
longest in school history.

Junior quarterback Heath Parling was efficient in his return to the field after reconstructive knee
surgery last season. Parling completed 14 of 24 passes for 177 yards, two touchdowns and an

“There was good and bad,” Parling said. “Probably more bad right now than there was good. First
half we did alright, but second half, there was obviously too many mistakes. It starts with myself on

Similar to the defense, the Laker offense struggled in the third quarter.

After opening the second half with a touchdown that was set up on an 83-yard kick return by senior Reggie Williams, the GVSU offense suffered a three and out, fumble and another three and
out on consecutive possessions, which allowed Azusa Pacific to get back in the game.

“To be honest with you, I feel that after we ripped the kickoff return in the third quarter that there
might have been a little bit of a letdown,” Mitchell said. “We didn’t approach things as good as we
could have approached things in the third quarter. I don’t feel like on the sideline we had the killer
instinct that you need that great teams have. That will be addressed.”

While Azusa Pacifc was able to have success on the ground, it struggled to move the ball through
the air against the Laker defense. The two quarterbacks for Azusa Pacific combined to complete
only 15 of 30 passes for 143 yards and threw three interceptions.

“I think we had a good scheme going in,” said sophomore defensive back Brad Horling. “All week
we always do a good job game planning. There are obviously some things to work on. We busted a
couple and had some guys get behind us in the back half of the defense in the second half that set
them up with good field position. I think the success we had today holding them to 17 points was
from the game plan and coaches.”

Senior linebacker Jordan Kaufman led the team in tackles, recording 11 stops in the game, and had
a fumble recovery. Junior DeVonte’ Jones and seniors Erik Thompson and Michael Hatcher recorded
interceptions for the GVSU defense.

The win marks the 13th straight home season opener that GVSU has won. Mitchell will take the win,
but wasn’t happy with the total product of his team.

“Good to get a win,” he said. “Azusa Pacific was a physical ball team. It’s a 21-point win, but at the
same time, I don’t feel that we performed as well as we could have in certain areas.”