Strong second half leads GVSU to 48-20 win over Western Oregon

GVL / Eric Coulter
Sophomore Quarterback Heath Parling runs the ball for a touchdown in Saturdays match up against Tiffin. The Lakers were victorious over the Dragons 70-7

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GVL / Eric Coulter Sophomore Quarterback Heath Parling runs the ball for a touchdown in Saturday’s match up against Tiffin. The Lakers were victorious over the Dragons 70-7

Brady Fredericksen

It may have taken a half of football, but the No. 7 Grand Valley State University football team found its groove on Saturday and earned a 48-20 victory at Western Oregon University.

In a game that saw the Lakers (1-0) sprint out to a 21-7 first-quarter lead — thanks in large part to a 90-yard punt return touchdown by junior cornerback Reggie Williams — it appeared as though this season’s opener would mirror last year’s victory over Western Oregon (0-1).

At least it seemed that way after the first quarter.

“There’s some good things, some bad things. We had the turnover (a Chris Robinson fumble) on offense, but other than that I was really happy with our offensive production,” said GVSU head coach Matt Mitchell. “I was really happy with Heath (Parling), if you look at the stat sheet it wouldn’t amaze you, but he did a good job managing our offense, he got us a lot of good plays.”

In the second quarter, Western Oregon quarterback Cody VonAppen scrambled and threw his team to 13 points, including a 53-yard field goal at the end of the half that cut the deficit to 28-20 at the half.

VonAppen’s scrambling wasn’t anything new to GVSU, they knew he was an athlete going in. The senior accounted for 344 yards, including 272 through the air, but the Lakers’ ability to make adjustments was something that didn’t happen in the second quarter as the Wolves crawled back into the game.

“Every coach says this, but it’s true here; we’ve got work to do to get better,” Mitchell said. “We’re not a finished product, especially on the defensive side of the ball, but that’s what I anticipated.”

Those adjustments did come in the second half, and that’s where the Lakers extended their lead. After allowing 20 points in the first, GVSU made adjustments and as Mitchell said, calmed down and started making plays.

“We just stayed confident. (Mitchell) just told us to keep playing,” said junior cornerback Mike Hatcher. “We kept playing, we played faster, we played better, we played Grand Valley football in the second half and that was the difference.”

Parling led the way for the offense, completing 15-of-24 passes for 159 yards and a touchdown, while sophomore running back Chris Robinson scored twice and ran for a team-high 99 yards on 11 carries.

Senior receiver Charles Johnson caught five passes for 28 yards in the game, but sustained a hip injury after being tackled in the second half.

The penalty-ridden game, one that saw 11 penalties and four personal fouls for GVSU, opened up in the second half as GVSU came out and extended the lead, forcing Western Oregon out of their comfort zone as its scoreless second half wore on.

“It’s a 28-20 victory, on the road 2,000 miles away from home against a team that was undefeated at home last year. That’s the good. The bad is that we didn’t play as well as we’re capable of playing,” Mitchell said. “The thing moving forward now is are we just going to be happy because we won a game 48-20, or are we going to get back to work to get better.”

GVSU will return to practice this week before christening the new Lubbers’ Stadium against Notre Dame College on Saturday.

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