GVSU scores 42 straight in win at Hillsdale

Heath Parling (#12)

Courtesy/Doug Witte

Heath Parling (#12)

Jay Bushen

Senior quarterback Heath Parling’s return from injury was anything but triumphant in the opening minute of the game between Grand Valley State University and Hillsdale College on Saturday. 

Parling’s first throw of the night was intercepted by a Hillsdale defender, and it led to a 56-yard touchdown run for the Chargers that put GVSU in a 7-0 hole less than two minutes in.

It was a shaky start, but the senior leader and the GVSU offense shook it off in a big way.

“Believe it or not, that’s not the first time that’s happened,” Parling said. “I kind of just dealt with it, but I’m proud of our guys with the way we responded to adversity and got a big score (the next drive) for our defense.”

Parling completed 17 of his next 26 attempts for 236 yards and four touchdowns to go with 20 rushing yards – and GVSU scored the next 42 points on its way to a 42-21 win, its second in a row.

Senior running back Chris Robinson put GVSU on the board by ripping off a 25-yard touchdown run on the team’s second drive of the game to seemingly swing the momentum.

After the defense forced a three-and-out, Parling hit redshirt freshman wide receiver Brandon Bean for a 28-yard score to give GVSU a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.

The Lakers added to the lead toward the end of the first half after Parling threw touchdown passes to Jamie Potts and Keontre’ Miskel, respectively, which put GVSU up 28-7 at halftime.

“They were running good routes,” Parling said of his receivers. “Both corners were physical, so they had to do a good job of beating some press coverage at the line and finishing off plays when the ball was in the air.”

Parling racked up 200 total yards in the first half, 85 more than Hillsdale amassed as a team.

Sophomore quarterback Mark LaPrairie and the Charger offense came into the game with the GLIAC’s top passing attack, but couldn’t seem to get anything going after their initial drive.

Hillsdale’s first drive of the second half was more of the same. After another Charger three-and-out, Parling and Co. set up shop from their own 41-yard line.

The Lakers marched down the field in five plays, and delivered what seemed to be the dagger: another Parling-Potts touchdown connection, this time from 19 yards out. The Lakers were making it look easy.

GVSU had 464 total yards of offense before it was all said and done, as Robinson rushed for 157 yards on 22 carries while junior running back Kirk Spencer added 51 yards on 11 attempts.

“Our offensive line played a great game,” Parling said. “I didn’t really get touched all game in the drop back. Hillsdale College is a good team with a good defense. I’m proud of the way our O-line played.”

The offense wasn’t the only unit putting points on the board.

With 6:40 remaining in the third quarter, GVSU senior nickelback Deonté Hurst added insult to injury by picking off a LaPrairie pass and taking it to the house. The Lakers were firing on all cylinders up 42-7.

“It was a complete win, we were obviously 0-3 in our last three road games going back to Northwest Missouri State,” coach Matt Mitchell said. “I’m proud of our team’s approach, we played with a lot of enthusiasm and energy.”

The enthusiasm and energy from GVSU’s 66-28 home victory over Lake Erie College on Sept. 27 certainly seemed to carry over for the Lakers. GVSU’s opportunistic offense against Hillsdale was again complemented by a dominant defense – which held the Chargers to 135 yards through the air.

Despite opening the season with a trio of losses, GVSU certainly seems to be gaining momentum.

“It definitely boosts the confidence and we’re continuing to be the best team we can each week,” Robinson said. “This week we were the best week-five team, next week we’re going to be the best week-six team, and so on.”

The Lakers (2-3) host Wayne State University (3-2) in their homecoming game on Saturday at 7 p.m.