Lakers thrash winless Tiffin to snap three-game losing streak

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

Looking to get back on track after a three-game skid, the Grand Valley State University football team demonstrated explosive potential Saturday in a 70-7 victory over Tiffin University.

Saturday’s game was the Lakers’ largest win since beating Wayne State University 77-12 in 2002. GVSU (2-3, 1-3 GLIAC) put together its best efforts on both sides of the ball as the offense out-gained Tiffin (0-5, 0-4 GLIAC) 629 yards to 218.

But despite being on the right side of a lopsided victory, GVSU head coach Matt Mitchell said there is still work to be done.

“It’s one of those deals where the score is 70-7, but I told the guys in the locker room, I don’t think anyone should be breathing a sigh of relief like we’re back or anything like that,” he said. “I thought that our guys had a good approach … anytime you can get a win, you take a win.”

Offensively, the Lakers burst out of the gates, taking a 21-0 lead after the first quarter. The 21-point margin was the team’s largest lead since its season-opening 44-20 victory over Western Oregon University. Three first-quarter touchdowns from sophomore quarterback Heath Parling – including a 19-yard touchdown run – put GVSU in the driver’s seat early, and the Lakers never looked back.

The offense used a variety of long plays – highlighted by three passing plays of 38 yards – to put together its best game of the season. Parling finished the game with 298 yards and six touchdowns. “I thought we played well offensively, and we knew they were going to challenge us with a lot of man coverage on that side of the ball,” Parling said. “Our wideouts did a good job running routes, and definitely our offensive line protected me enough, and as you can see we capitalized on a lot of those opportunities.”

Junior receiver Charles Johnson grabbed eight passes for 158 yards and two touchdowns while freshman Keontre Miskel recorded the first three catches of his career, including a nine-yard touchdown in the third quarter. “It’s always good to get a win, but we still have three losses,” Johnson said. “We played pretty well, but there’s still things to clean up – there’s always things to improve on.”

The running game continued its recent roll as well. Emerging sophomore Hersey Jackson, coming off a 124-yard game last week, rushed for 89 yards and a touchdown on only eight carries. Tiffin tried to mix the running game into its pass-heavy offense early on, but the Lakers defense put pressure on the quarterback, recording four sacks and knocking quarterback
James Capello out of the game. GVSU held the Dragons to 51 percent passing.

“I think we played pretty well, we had a lot of guys running to the ball,” said sophomore linebacker Luther Ware. “A lot of guys were finishing on the tackles – it wasn’t just one guy. I think the team flew around a lot better. GVSU was led by senior Brad Thomas and the rest of the linebacking group. The trio of Howard, Ware and sophomore Reggie Williams recorded 16 total tackles, and handled the Tiffin running and passing games A 63-point deficit also gave coaches a chance to see some of the team’s backups in a live-game situation. Along with Miskel’s game, freshman Antonio Hutchins also played well defensively, recording six tackles and 1.5 for a loss.

“Our philosophy is we’re not just going to go in there and run the ball, when we put our second group in, we’re going to run our offense,” Mitchell said. “We had a lot of red-shirt freshmen out there, and I think that’s valuable for short term and for long term of this program.” Coming off their first win in a month, the Lakers will return to practice this week before going on the road to Marquette, Mich. to take on Northern Michigan University on Saturday.

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