GVSU explodes for 66 points in win over LEC

GVL/Kevin Sielaff
QB Mitchel Hokavar

GVL/Kevin Sielaff

GVL/Kevin Sielaff QB Mitchel Hokavar

Jay Bushen

The Grand Valley State University football team got back to its bread and butter, and there was plenty of it to go around for a handful of hungry running backs.

GVSU, which had just 213 rushing yards in its first three games combined, rumbled for 399 rushing yards in a 66-28 thumping of Lake Erie College at Lubbers Stadium on Saturday night. Both teams move to 1-3 as a result.

“We hadn’t been running the ball effectively through three games,” said GVSU coach Matt Mitchell. “Even though this front maybe was not as talented as some of the fronts we faced in the first three weeks, I still feel like we played through the whistle. Our offensive line did a good job controlling the line of scrimmage and our backs were hot.”

GVSU’s offensive line, which dealt with a pair of injuries in the game, seemed to dominate the Storm front, and the Laker running backs took advantage.

Junior Kirk Spencer led the way with 143 yards and two touchdowns, senior Chris Robinson had 88 and three scores, senior Michael Ratay had 81 and a touchdown, and senior Hersey Jackson had 81 yards on nine carries, all in the fourth quarter.

“It’s a great accomplishment, but we know we’re not all the way there,” Spencer said. “There were probably some plays that we missed out there, I know I missed one that was going up the middle…Our line is doing a great job, our coaches are doing a great job getting us in the right formations, in the right plays.”

After struggling against three ranked opponents, GVSU’s offense stormed back to life against Lake Erie.

The Lakers converted just six of 12 red-zone opportunities into points in those losses, but were six for six on Saturday. Five of those trips ended in touchdowns.

“We focus on it a lot every week,” Robinson said. “It just comes down to the execution, us wanting to get into the end zone.”

GVSU’s execution against Lake Erie gave the crowd of more than 14,500 fans plenty to cheer about.

The team was without starting quarterback Heath Parling for the second straight week, but racked up 640 total yards with senior Isiah Grimes under center. Grimes threw an interception, but completed 13-of-23 passes for 232 yards and two touchdowns, both to junior Jamie Potts on back-to-back drives in the first half.

Lake Erie, which returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, kept pace in the first quarter but was ultimately plagued by five turnovers.

The team turned the ball over on three of its first six drives, and could not get star running back Anthony Bilal involved. Bilal came into the game as the NCAA Division II’s leading scorer, but had just 38 yards on 11 carries and no touchdowns.

“We had a plan heading in to try to contain Anthony Bilal,” Mitchell said. “They didn’t get loose and I thought we stuck to that plan. The quarterback probably hurt us in some of the option game a little bit more than the running back did.”

GVSU returns to action at 4:30 p.m. Saturday with a GLIAC North contest at Hillsdale College.