Robinson rumbles for GVSU record in win

GVL / Robert Mathews
Junior running back Chris Robinson weaving past Azusa Pacific defenders during the Lakers first home game.


GVL / Robert Mathews Junior running back Chris Robinson weaving past Azusa Pacific defenders during the Lakers first home game.

Jay Bushen


Grand Valley State University offensive linemen Jim Walsh, Aaron Cox, Brandon Revenberg, Payton McCallum and Dan DeLuca won’t see their names in the record book, but Chris Robinson won’t forget them anytime soon.

GVSU’s O-line teamed up with Robinson for a huge performance at the University of Findlay on Saturday, as the senior tailback rushed for 261 yards and three touchdowns in a 42-36 win. The 33-carry effort was good enough to eclipse GVSU’s single game mark of 256 yards, which was set by John Mahan in 1973 against Manchester College.

“It all starts up front,” said Robinson, an Ovid-Elsie High School product. “The O-line was dominant up front and the wide receivers were dominant on the edges. It’s not just me; it’s a team effort.”

Robinson moved from 18th to 12th in the team’s career rushing ranks, passing Justin Sherrod (2,034 yards), Spencer Calhoun (2,041), Blake Smolen (2,070), Ray Bukner (2,120), Mahan (2,130) and sidelined teammate Michael Ratay (2,226), respectively.

To GVSU coach Matt Mitchell, the big day was just as big for the big men.

“I’m proud of our whole offense,” Mitchell said. “For him to do that was a good accomplishment for him and the O-line.

“The line of scrimmage was moving in our favor. That’s the first thing, when a running back doesn’t have to dodge traffic in the backfield.”

Robinson and the offensive line, which did not give up a sack, began the impressive afternoon just two plays into the game when he rattled off a 64-yard run to put the Lakers up 7-0.

GVSU’s offense scored on its next play from scrimmage less than three minutes later, as quarterback Heath Parling hit wideout Jamie Potts for a 30-yard touchdown pass to put Findlay in a 14-0 hole early.

Findlay seemed to swing the momentum by scoring on its next two drives to make it 14-9, but the Lakers reclaimed control when Parling found wide receiver Kameel Jackson with an 18-yard touchdown throw.

The teams continued to trade all types of scores in the second quarter. Findlay quarterback Verlon Reed, who came into the game as the GLIAC’s leading passer, started to heat up. Robinson had a pair of long touchdown runs. Findlay faked a field goal for a touchdown. The Lakers managed to close out the action-packed half, however, with a 35-29 advantage.

“In the first half, we didn’t punt,” Mitchell said. “We were controlling the line of scrimmage, and defensively we struggled with Verlon Reed’s athleticism. He made some plays running it and throwing it, and on special teams we gave up a kick return for a touchdown.”

Another Parling-to-Potts connection extended the Laker lead in the third quarter, but the second-half story for GVSU was its defense.

The stat line showed an impressive day for junior defensive end Matt Judon. Against a high-powered Findlay offense, Judon had himself a game: 14 total tackles, 5.5 tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks.

“They like doing the option read, and we have very athletic D-ends,” Judon said. “You should be in position to be making plays. It was our scheme and it was a great push from our inside guys, Frank Boenzi and Isiah Dunning. I give them credit…”

From defensive line to offensive line, the Lakers took charge in the trenches throughout. Their play had a lot to do with the individual accolades, but those weren’t the cause for celebration after the game.

Winning was.

“It’s definitely big because it shows that we haven’t put our tail between our legs,” Robinson said. “This group of guys, especially with our seniors, we’ll fight and continue to fight for each other and that’s what it comes down to at the end of the day.”

GVSU (4-4, 4-3 GLIAC) returns to Lubbers Stadium for a matchup with Ashland University (7-1, 7-1 GLIAC) on Saturday.