GVL Archive
Senior Linebacker Brad Howard makes a tackle in last years match up between Northern and GVSU. This year the Lakers were victorious 42-7

GVL Archives

GVL Archive Senior Linebacker Brad Howard makes a tackle in last year’s match up between Northern and GVSU. This year the Lakers were victorious 42-7

Brady Fredericksen

Going into Saturday’s game at Northern Michigan University, the Grand Valley State University football team had forced just one interception in its first five games, ranking last in GLIAC.

But early season happenings were not the case against the Wildcats as GVSU (3-3, 2-3 GLIAC) intercepted Northern Michigan quarterback Carter Kopach four times, a season high, en route to a 42-7 victory at the Superior Dome in Marquette, Mich.

“Defensively, this was your classic ‘bend-but-don’t-break’ game,” said GVSU head coach Matt Mitchell. “We gave up yardage but got stops and turnovers in the red zone. Scoring defense is the most important defensive stat and we held them to seven points.”

Led by two interceptions from sophomore safety Eric Thompson, one a 95-yard return for a touchdown, the GVSU defense slowed a Northern Michigan offense that averaged 28 points per game entering this past weekend’s contest.

The defensive line pressured Kopach into a number of bad throws throughout the game, and the GVSU defense changed up its rushers and quarterback spies to slow the senior.

“Our game plan was to try to keep him in front of us, sometimes rushing three with a spy, but we didn’t want to give him any big plays,” Mitchell said. “We kind of gave him the opportunity to complete some short passes, just dink and dunk stuff, but we held them to seven and for the first time this year were on the positive end of turnovers.”

Along with Thompson’s two interceptions, cornerbacks Michael Hatcher and Kenny Veal each had interceptions of their own, both coming with Northern Michigan driving on the GVSU end of the field.

“The biggest take away was when Kenny Veal got his in the end zone — that changed the momentum,” said senior wideout Jovonne Augustus. “Our defense played really good and made plays. They just need to find a rhythm and chemistry, and they’ve found that in the last two games.”

Playing without sophomore running back Hersey Jackson, who sat out with a shoulder injury he suffered against Tiffin University last week, the GVSU offense found its groove early, jumping out to a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter thanks to a mix of runs and play-action passes.

Junior running back Norman Shuford put together a successful day on the ground, rushing for 88 yards on 10 carries while also catching two passes for 35 yards. The rushing success of Shuford and sophomore Mike Rattay, who finished with 68 yards on the ground in place of Jackson, set up quarterback Heath Parling in the passing game.

Parling, who accounted for six touchdowns in last week’s win over Tiffin, continued his strong play this week. The sophomore had only four incompletions in a game Mitchell called “efficient.” Parling threw for 171 yards and five touchdowns, four of which to receiver Jovonne Augustus.

“When he’s running past guys in coverage, I can basically put it up there anywhere,” Parling said. “It makes it a lot easier on my part, but I was real proud of how he played, he comes to practice every day ready to play. I was just proud.”

The 6-foot-5 senior played his best game of the season, grabbing four passes, all for touchdowns, to go with 69 yards. Parling’s chemistry with his receivers has been a big reason for the offense’s success through the air, and Augustus says that comes down to repetition and practice.

“We’ve just been working on everything since summer time,” he said. “We throw every day and it was just a matter of time until I broke out and had a good game. It was really key that [Northern Michigan] was really jumping everything, leaving me open.”

With the win, the Lakers have won consecutive games for the first time this season, and will look to carry the momentum into next weekend’s game at Lake Erie College.

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