GV Football starts strong, winning season opener against Colorado State-Pueblo


GVL / Lauren Seymour

Shawn Robinson, Staff Writer

For the first time in almost two years, Grand Valley State University is playing football again and finally, with fans in the stands. No. 14 ranked GVSU opened their season against no. 19 ranked Colorado State-Pueblo on this past Saturday, Sept. 11, for the Stars and Stripes game at Lubbers Stadium and won 34-14.

GVSU is celebrating its 50th season of football in 2021 and will honor specific decades at home games all season long. 

“660 days since the last day we stepped on the field together,” said sophomore linebacker, Abe Swanson. “Obviously there’s a lot of emotion that goes on during that time, experience a lot of things and a lot of practices against each other. When you’re going up against one of the better offenses in the nation every single day, it’s going to raise your level of competition. To finally be out there and play someone else that’s not wearing Grand Valley, the emotion that runs thru you right there, it shows what we did on the field today.”

GVSU got off to a fast start in the first quarter, as their opening drive resulted in a 16-yard touchdown run by sophomore quarterback, Cade Peterson, and GVSU took the lead 7-0. 

“The key to the game was the opening drive of the game,” said head coach, Matt Mitchell. “They won the toss and deferred, we took the ball, and they took the wind. We started on the 25 and went down the field and I think it was a key for the confidence of our team.”

 The Lakers then came out on defense and forced a quick three-and-out. With the Colorado State-Pueblo Thunderwolves forced to punt on fourth down, senior wide receiver, Juwan Johnson, returned an 80-yard punt to the house and extended the Lakers lead 14-0. 

CSU-Pueblo hoped for better results on their second drive, but GVSU forced and recovered a fumble and put the offense back on the field in excellent field position on their own side of the field. Junior running back, Aryuan Cain-Veasey, scored another Laker touchdown on a two-yard run and extending their lead even further, 21-0 to end the first quarter. 

Unlike the opening first quarter, the second quarter was more of a defensive battle to start. On a Lakers offensive drive, Peterson threw an interception and the Thunderwolves took it back to the endzone for their first score of the game, reducing the Lakers lead, 21-7. 

But the high-powered GVSU offense would bounce back later at the end of the quarter with a 9-yard Peterson touchdown pass to Johnson and a controlling 28-7 lead over CSU-Pueblo to end the first half. 

With the two teams having different approaches going into the second half, both defenses kept the respective offenses in check to start the third quarter. Only one touchdown was scored between the two teams during the third, when CSU-Pueblo quarterback, Steven Croell, threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver, Preston Guerra, reducing the deficit 28-14. 

The Lakers opened the fourth quarter on a better note, as they were able to score their first touchdown of the half. Peterson threw a 17-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver, Tariq Reid for the final touchdown of the night and increased the GVSU lead, 34-17. 

Peterson had a spectacular opening night going 12-24 for 139 yards and two touchdowns as well as 13 rushes for 95 yards. The GVSU defense held CSU-Pueblo to only 29 total rushing yards and a spectacular 2-of-13 on third down conversions.

“It starts with trust between coaches and players, and we’ve got a good defensive staff that’s been around the block,” Mitchell said. “We did a good job trying to attack some of their protections. Our D-line a lot of the times, we were winning with four-man pash rush. I thought we affected the quarterback four-man rush, and they did some things that kind of heated him up, but Coach Lewis is a really good defensive coordinator, and he loves third downs and scheming for them.”

The Lakers are 1-0 and will look to continue their winning ways next week against Wisconsin-LA Crosse on Saturday, Sept. 18 at Lubbers Stadium.