Six-won-six: GVSU handles Dixie State, remains unbeaten

Kwanii Figueroa takes an interception to the house in a game against Dixie State on Saturday, Oct. 6. GVL / Sheila Babbitt

Kwanii Figueroa takes an interception to the house in a game against Dixie State on Saturday, Oct. 6. GVL / Sheila Babbitt

Brady McAtamney

On a cool fall Homecoming evening in Allendale, the No. 2 ranked Grand Valley State Lakers football team defeated the visiting Dixie State Trailblazers 35-14 in the first ever match-up between the Michigan and Utah schools behind a stout defensive effort to improve to 6-0.

Before Head Coach Matt Mitchell ushered out the second unit defense in the fourth quarter, GVSU had held the Trailblazers to only 173 yards on 55 plays – an average of only 3.1 yards per play – with a measly 25 carries for 21 yards on the ground. Both of DSU’s touchdown came in the fourth quarter against the backups. 

“They weren’t really able to run the ball at all,” Mitchell said. “Some of that was our base defense, we also run a lot of run pressure so our linebackers were blitzing in, so there was really no run game I think at half. I thought we did a really good job stopping the run. They were running inside, outside and we got a lot of hits on the quarterback. They were throwing a lot of quick game and max (protection), and even then we had some guys getting pressure on.”

The defense managed to aid the scoring output as well as defensive lineman Kwanii Figueroa intercepted a tipped pass at the line of scrimmage and returned it 47 yards for the Lakers’ first defensive touchdown of the season.

“I was excited. I was definitely going to grab it and try to score,” Figueroa said. “I was definitely excited but I want to thank the ten other guys who were back there to help me get blocks and help me get in the end zone.

“I was just thinking ‘don’t fall’ and ‘don’t lose the ball’. That was my first touchdown ever.”

The offense did its job too. Quarterback Bart Williams completed 16 of 28 passes for 237 yards with three touchdowns, all to wide receiver Austin Paritee who caught six passes for 121 yards in addition to his trifecta of scores. 

“It doesn’t start with just Bart and me,” Paritee said. “It starts with the (offensive) line and Coach Ginn, the offensive coordinator. We’re getting more comfortable every day and every week. We’re really starting to reach our potential which we haven’t hit yet so it’s been pretty good.”

Running back Jack Provencher gained 90 all-purpose yards (55 receiving, 35 rushing) with one touchdown on 12 touches while running back Chawntez Moss ran for 96 yards on only 13 carries. Wide receiver Nick Dodson caught five passes for 70 yards. 

Overall, the Lakers gained 382 yards on 61 plays compared to Dixie State’s 321 yards on 71 plays with 148 coming on 16 plays in the fourth quarter against GVSU’s second team defense. 

“I thought we were efficient moving the ball in the air and protecting Bart for the most part,” Mitchell said. “We had a really quick trigger on pulling guys when we were up and allowed our guys to get an opportunity, some of those guys did well, some of those guys will watch tape and continue to improve. It was a solid effort in all three phases to come out and get the win at home.”

The Lakers will now turn their attention to their No. 3 ranked rival Ferris State Bulldogs (6-0, 4-0 GLIAC). The two teams will meet in the annual Anchor-Bone Classic on Saturday, Oct. 13 at Lubbers Stadium with kickoff scheduled for 7 p.m.