What Rivalry?

GVL/Eric Coulter
GVSU vs Ferris State University

Eric Coulter

GVL/Eric Coulter GVSU vs Ferris State University

Brady Fredericksen

As they raised the Anchor-Bone Trophy at midfield following a 57-10 victory on Saturday, members of the Grand Valley State University football team reminded fans that despite their uncharacteristic start to the season, they are still capable of winning in dominating fashion.

The team’s 47-point victory over rival Ferris State University (5-3, 4-3 GLIAC) was the biggest win in the annual game since Bulldogs defeated the Lakers (5-3, 4-3 GLIAC) 57-0 in 1971, the inaugural game of the series.

“Us losing the three games early was nothing to do with team chemistry issues, we just weren’t playing great football,” said GVSU head coach Matt Mitchell, who has led the team to four consecutive wins. “This is an interesting crew to coach. You see them perform like this and sometimes I tell them, ‘I love ‘em sometimes, but I hate ‘em.’ They’re fun to coach.”

Aside from a 15-yard trick-play touchdown pass from wide receiver Mike Ryan to quarterback Tom Schneider in the second quarter, the Lakers’ defense completely bottled up the GLIAC’s top total offense, limiting Ferris State to just 10 points.

Three sacks and stern tackling helped the Lakers, who struggled defensively a week ago at Lake Erie College, shut down the fast-paced Ferris State offense. Despite accumulating 369 yards of total offense, the Bulldogs only averaged 5.1 yards per play, and a lost fumble late in the first quarter resulted in GVSU’s third touchdown of the quarter, blowing the game wide open.

“The key to the whole thing was getting the lead, we knew that, when we have the lead, you force Tom Schneider
to drop back and throw, and that is really not what he’s great at,” said Mitchell, who is now 2-0 against Ferris State. “It allowed our D-line to really pin our ears back and put some pressure on the quarterback … There were times where we were getting pressure with three-man rushes.”

While the defense did its job, the offense put together one of its best performances of the season and of the GVSU-Ferris State rivalry.

Led by quarterback Heath Parling’s six touchdown passes, the Lakers rolled up 38 points in the first half en-route to a 57-point night, the most points the Lakers have scored in the rivalry since 2001’s 63-point output.

The sophomore signal caller connected twice with receivers Charles Johnson and Greg Gay in the game. Johnson continued his successful season, catching six passes for 144 yards, while Gay played his best game of the season, recording three catches for 34 yards.

Parling’s six touchdown passes were a career high and the most by a GVSU quarterback since Cullen Finnerty threw six against Northern Michigan University in 2006.

“I think we had a really good game plan going in. We love playing Ferris and it’s always a fun game to play in, but I just think we were in the right looks and we executed,” said Parling, who now has an 18-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio during the Lakers’ four-game winning streak. “When we’re playing anyone and we’re executing, we can be pretty dangerous.”

Despite the recent lopsided victories in the series, the Lakers still value the Anchor-Bone Trophy, and the win against a GLIAC rival.

“It feels good, I mean winning is a tradition around here, and it’s a great accomplishment,” said senior defensive
lineman Andre Thomas, who recorded his seventh sack of the season. “We haven’t lost to Ferris since, what, 1999? It’s a very good accomplishment for me and the team.”

The Lakers have now won 11 straight games in the series and will retain possession of the Anchor-Bone Trophy for another year. GVSU will return to the field at 7 p.m. Saturday for a homecoming matchup with Michigan Technological University next week.

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