GV Football falls in FSU rematch


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Brian Bloom, Staff Writer

The no. 4 ranked Grand Valley State University (10-2) football team traveled to Top Taggart Field to battle with rival Ferris State University (11-0) on Saturday, Nov. 27. The team lost in a heartbreaking repetition of their previous loss, 54-20. Not only was the loss their exit from the NCAA Division II playoffs, but it was a repeated set of mistakes from the regular season Anchor-Bone Classic, where GVSU suffered its first and only loss. 

“The game got away from us in the first quarter,” coach Matt Mitchell said to FSU Athletics in the post-game press conference. “We got out of what we were able to do in the first game, which was to run the ball, and the score got to the point where we had to try to throw it more than we’d have liked to.”

FSU started off strong, capping off a three-play, 73-yard opening drive with a 65-yard touchdown run by quarterback Jared Bernhardt. 

After falling into an early hole, down 7-0, sophomore quarterback Cade Peterson led the GVSU offense down the field in four plays, finding senior running back Bryce Young-Walls for a six-yard score to even the game, 7-7.

After nearly eight minutes without either offense finding the endzone, Bernhardt took matters into his own hands, powering his way into the endzone to give FSU a 14-7 lead with 3:41 left to play in the first quarter. The second quarter held much of the same, as the next two GVSU drives stalled out, both leading to FSU touchdowns, making the score 27-7. FSU closed out the half with two field goals, taking a 33-7 lead and full momentum into the second half.

“(The turnovers leading to FSU scores) were tough,” Mitchell said. “Obviously the first game that hurt us, (there were) turnovers in the first half, and we did the same thing again in this game. We put our defense in some bad positions with the turnovers.”

The third quarter was a defensive struggle, as neither team could get anything going on offense. After an interception by the FSU defense, the team’s offense began their drive deep in GVSU territory and capped it off with a 13-yard scamper by quarterback Mylik Mitchell to increase their lead to 33 points.

However, GVSU didn’t give up. After a stop by the defense, Young-Walls bulled his way across the pylon from three yards out to make the score 40-13. 

The fourth quarter was reminiscent of the first, as each of FSU’s first two offensive series finished in the endzone, increasing their lead to 54-13 with just under 13 minutes left in GVSU’s season. 

The Lakers found the end zone once more, as on fourth and goal, Peterson found junior receiver Hunter Rison from 15 yards away to add seven more points to their score. FSU ran out the remaining six minutes of the game to capture the 54-20 win. 

The offense was bottled up throughout the game, only recording 276 yards and 13 first downs to FSU’s 532 yards and 24 first downs. On the defensive side of the ball, they couldn’t get stops when they needed them, as FSU held the ball on offense for 38:01 minutes. Mitchell says that turnovers and big plays played a major role in the loss.

“The tale of the game was the turnovers (on offense) and the explosive plays,” Mitchell said. “We gave up too many explosive plays defensively and had too many turnovers on the offensive side of the ball.”

While this was not the result the team was hoping to receive, many of the players performed incredibly well all season long.

Peterson finished the season with 2,130 passing yards, a 62.3 completion percentage, and 26 touchdown passes to only 11 interceptions. He also excelled on the ground, rushing for 559 yards and adding seven touchdowns.

Sophomore running back Tariq Reed and Young-Walls split time in the backfield all season long and carried the load on the ground for the team. Reed led the team in rushing yards with 627 while adding six touchdowns, while Young-Walls finished his final season with 572 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground. In the receiving department, Rison proved to be Peterson’s go-to target, as he led the team in receptions with 38, receiving yards with 516, and receiving touchdowns with six. 

Defensively, the unit suffocated opposing offenses, only surrendering 18 points per game and 281 yards per game. Sophomore linebacker Abe Swanson was a menace to opposing offensive lines, as he lived in the backfield. He recorded 104 total tackles, including eight tackles for loss and three sacks.

“Everybody is hurting in the locker room right now, but at some point they’ll reflect back on the ten win season and being one of 16 teams still playing,” Mitchell said. “I will never forget this senior class because they had a COVID year; I think they deserve a tremendous amount of credit across the board. (My seniors) put their whole life on hold for pretty much an entire year to come back with the opportunity to compete in football.”