GVSU escapes Hillsdale 35-17

GVL / Emily Frye
Matt Williams runs onto the field before the game against Truman State on Saturday Oct. 15, 2016.

Emily Frye

GVL / Emily Frye Matt Williams runs onto the field before the game against Truman State on Saturday Oct. 15, 2016.

Beau Troutman

Grand Valley State’s road contest with the Hillsdale Chargers was a day of many firsts.

The Lakers gave up their first and second first half touchdowns of the year to the Charger offense, after previously outscoring opponents 175-9 in the first half. It was the first time the Lakers entered the fourth quarter without the lead, as they trailed the Chargers 17-14 with just 15 minutes left.

It was also the first fourth quarter comeback for the Lakers, as they scored 21 unanswered points in the final frame and handed the Chargers their first home loss of the season 35-17 Saturday, Oct. 22.

“We went into halftime and said, ‘hey, we’re going to take a deep breath, we’ve got to show them what we’ve been talking about since January. We’ve got to show some grit here, we’ve got to show some resiliency. We’ve got to stick together,’ and I thought we did that,” said GVSU coach Matt Mitchell.

The Lakers improved to 8-0 (7-0 GLIAC) while the Chargers dropped to 3-4 (2-4 GLIAC). GVSU bid farewell to Hillsdale on a victorious note, as this is the Chargers’ final season in the GLIAC before leaving to join the G-MAC next season.

Both teams were deadlocked at 14 points for most of the first three quarters. GVSU had trouble with penalties and finished with 10 flags for 82 yards. Safety Donte Carey was ejected in the first quarter after a targeting call.

Chargers’ quarterback Chance Stewart lost two fumbles, both deep in GVSU territory and both on third down. One came in the first quarter on third-and-one at the GVSU 21-yard line, which was forced by David Talley and was recovered by Collin Schlosser. The other came in the third—a mishandled snap on third-and-goal from the GVSU one-yard line, which was recovered by Alton Voss.

The Chargers tacked on a field goal late in the third quarter to take the lead. Enter the fourth quarter, and the Lakers were in a position they hadn’t been in all season.

GVSU running back Martayveus Carter started the fourth quarter off with a 14-yard touchdown run to go up 21-17.

After a Hillsdale three-and-out, the Lakers struck pay dirt on their first play of their next drive—a 55-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Bart Williams to senior receiver Matt Williams, who used his signature double move to get wide open and put the Lakers up 28-17.

It was needed breathing room for an offense that had trouble connecting on big play passes.

“We’re not discouraged when we don’t hit one,” Bart Williams said. “We just reload the gun and shoot it again and go for home runs.”

Matt Williams led the Lakers with four catches, 80 yards and a touchdown, going over 2,000 career receiving yards in the process.

“Yeah, (2,000 receiving yards) is cool, cool to tell my grandkids one day, but right now the only thing that matters is we won,” Matt Williams said.

The Chargers failed to answer the GVSU touchdowns, and the Laker defense made a crucial fourth down stop leading 28-17.

Needing a touchdown to get back into the game, the Chargers decided to go for it on fourth-and-10 at the GVSU 28-yard line. Stewart dropped back to pass, then found a wide open running lane up the middle, but was stopped a yard short of the marker by Dylan Carroll, ending the drive.

Carter put the game out of reach on the next possession with a 10-yard touchdown scamper to seal the game.

“To me, this game to me was a very well-learned lesson,” Carter said. “We know we got what it takes to come back in a game.”

Carter led all backs with 205 yards on 26 carries and three touchdowns, bringing his season totals to 1115 yards and 14 touchdowns. Bart Williams finished 15-of-26 for 218 yards and two touchdowns. Schlosser led all defenders with 11 total tackles and added a sack, while Sydney Omameh led all defenders with a Matt Judon-like four sacks. Omameh is second in the GLIAC with 10 sacks this year.

The successful road test will prove beneficial for a GVSU team that plays Findlay in their last home game this Saturday, Oct. 29, and then ends the year on back-to-back road games against Wayne State (7-1) and Saginaw Valley State (4-3).

“We haven’t had too much adversity, so it was good for our football team to get through (Hillsdale),” Bart Williams said. “I think the defense really trusts the offense, and the offense trusts the defense.”