GVSU defeats Findlay on senior night 28-17

GVL / Emily Frye
Devin McKissic - game against Findlay on Saturday Oct. 29, 2016.

Emily Frye

GVL / Emily Frye Devin McKissic – game against Findlay on Saturday Oct. 29, 2016.

Beau Troutman

Grand Valley State receiver Matt Williams picked a good night to have his best performance of the season.

The Lakers’ leading receiver had 10 catches, 179 yards and two touchdowns in GVSU’s 28-17 win over the Findlay Oilers (4-5) on senior night at home Saturday, Oct. 29.

The Lakers trailed 17-14 to start the fourth quarter for the second consecutive week, as they were down by the same score to Hillsdale Oct. 22, but made their second fourth quarter comeback in as many weeks.

GVSU improved to 9-0 (8-0 GLIAC), the best start to a season since the 2008 Lakers went undefeated in the regular season. The Lakers are in first place in the GLIAC North as well as Super Region Four, and are the only GLIAC team without two losses.

“We’re sitting here at 9-0, and it’s not going to be easy,” said GVSU coach Matt Mitchell. “We have an appreciation for opponents. (Findlay) came in motivated trying to knock off the No. 2 team in the nation. There’s things we could do better, but I’m not going to apologize for winning.

“You’re going to have these tight competitive games as you get down the stretch because of the nature of where we’re at in the league and how people view Grand Valley State.”

Midway through the third quarter, GVSU senior defensive end Sydney Omameh blocked a 38-yard field goal attempt—a play that would come back to haunt the Oilers.

Omameh felt he could’ve gotten the first field goal that, at the time, was the difference in the game.

“I felt like I was getting pretty good pressure all game,” Omameh said. “Actually, the field goal before, I was kind of disappointed in myself because it went over my head, so I was like, ‘OK, this next one, I’m going to block it.’”

Fast forward to under seven minutes in the fourth quarter, and the Lakers were facing a second-and-one from the Findlay eight-yard line, Grand Valley State quarterback Bart Williams knew where he was going with the ball before the play even started.

Trailing 17-14, Bart Williams snapped the ball and threw a back-shoulder fade to senior receiver Matt Williams in the end zone, who made the grab and gave the Lakers their first lead since the second quarter.

“Matt, obviously having a great game, you could just tell that’s where I wanted to go with the ball,” Bart Williams said. “It was one-on-one, and we won that matchup. We work on that all the time at practice.”

Matt Williams had three catches for 44 yards and the lead-changing score on the drive. He was happy to be one of the heroes of senior night, but for him, this was just another important play in a season that’s far from over.

“Usually, senior nights have finalities to them,” Matt Williams said. “We’re just getting started, we’re going to keep going and keep taking it week-by-week.”

A few plays into the ensuing Findlay drive, the Oilers were tasked with converting on a fourth-and-10 from near midfield after GVSU reserve defensive end Keane Belcher sacked quarterback Rhys Gervais on third down. The Oilers were forced to go for a touchdown thanks to Omameh’s field goal block.

Gervais dropped back, and the GVSU pass rush forced him to throw while falling down, and the ball fell harmlessly to the turf, giving the Lakers the ball back with just over two minutes left in the game.

The very next play, GVSU running back Martayveus Carter booked it 52-yards for the game sealing touchdown.

Bart Williams finished 22-of-31 for 325 yards and three touchdowns. Carter had 113 rush yards on 15 carries and a touchdown. Senior Marquez Gollman led the Lakers with nine tackles. Safety Donte Carey and corner Devin McKissic each had an interception.

The Lakers will end the season on back-to-back road games against Saginaw Valley State (Saturday, Nov. 5) and Wayne State (Saturday, Nov. 12).