The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

GV football’s comeback falls short of victory

Courtesy GVSU Athletics

The Grand Valley State University’s football team opened their season on the road against the Colorado School of Mines Orediggers in Golden, Colo. on Thursday night. 

Coming into the game both teams were ranked by media and coaches in the top five, and it did not disappoint. In his inaugural appearance as head coach of the Lakers, Scott Wooster’s team battled down to the wire in a 31-28 loss.

“Total credit to Mines. Tremendous respect for that program. They did a great job and had a great plan. They made some critical plays, and we made some critical plays, just not enough of them,” Wooster said.

GVSU started hot, forcing the Orediggers to punt on their first drive of the game and immediately marching down the field on the back of senior quarterback, Cade Peterson. Peterson had an 18-yard run and a 56-yard completion to senior wide receiver, Cody Tierney, capping off the drive with a nine-yard touchdown run on a sweep play to junior WR Kyle Nott.

GVSU’s early success would not last long, as the second and third quarters were where the Lakers failed to put points on the board.

“We need to be more consistent in that stretch of the game in order to win games like that,” Peterson said. 

Mines’ veterans, QB, John Matocha, and WR, Max McLeod, took advantage of the GVSU secondary. Two of the best players in the country had an unstoppable connection as Matocha threw for 327 yards and two touchdowns, while McLeod caught 11 passes for 157 yards. 

Following the GVSU touchdown, Mines tied the game at 7-7 with a 3-yard run by running back Noah Roper. Roper had an explosive 24-yard run earlier in the drive, moving the Orediggers deep into GVSU territory. 

After the Lakers got inside the Mines’ 10-yard line on the ensuing drive, kicker Josh Gorball missed a 23-yard field goal wide right leaving GVSU empty-handed.

Mines punched in another score as both teams headed into halftime with plenty of adjustments to be made in a 14-7 game. GVSU started the second half with the ball, stalling out on their first drive. Mines took advantage and scored another touchdown for a 21-7 lead. With a high-flying offense, the Orediggers had several splash plays throughout the game. GVSU’s defense proceeded to give up another touchdown as the Orediggers dug the Lakers into a 28-7 hole halfway through the third quarter. 

Down 21 points in the second half, GVSU needed a spark. On a third down and six Peterson’s pass sailed high off Tierney’s hands, allowing the Orediggers’ defensive back Jackson Zimmerman to tip the ball to himself from one knee for an acrobatic interception. In an attempt to put the final nail in the coffin, Mines went for it on fourth and sixth in Lakers’ territory. Senior defensive lineman, Christian McCarroll, got GVSU a crucial sack to help keep his team in the game.

After allowing three unanswered touchdowns by Mines, the Lakers came roaring back in the fourth quarter with three of their own.

“I absolutely love the response from our football team. The toughness and the belief that no matter what we are gonna keep on going to battle back,” Wooster said.

Peterson made a 20-yard completion to junior tight end Gavin Cossou, followed by a 31-yard touchdown pass to Tierney, drawing within two scores early in the fourth quarter: 28-14.

Following another GVSU stop, Orediggers’ punter Blake Doud pinned the Lakers inside their own five-yard line. Doud’s performance was critical, averaging 49.2 yards per punt, all six of which landed inside the Lakers 20-yard line making field position a key component. 

After an exchange of unsuccessful drives, Peterson converted on a fourth down with a 22-yard pass to Tierney, followed with a 5-yard touchdown to redshirt freshman WR Lynn El-Whyche. GVSU reached within one score, 28-21, with 1:17 to go in the game.

With two timeouts remaining, the Lakers needed an onside kick. Making up for his prior missed field, Gorball gave the Lakers a chance with a long roll that GVSU recovered at the Orediggers’ 35-yard line. After a a few short passes the Lakers had less than a minute remaining and needed to convert on a fourth and six.

Peterson dropped back to pass and eluded the rush, running from the jaws of defeat for a 20-yard touchdown in a heroic effort. The game was tied at 28-28 for the first time since it was 7-7 in the first quarter. Peterson finished the game with 397 total yards and three total touchdowns.

“Cade was what I believe, and we believe he is. He is that guy. He’s that dude,” Wooster said.

After a resilient comeback GVSU seemingly had momentum on their side, but Mines showed their own resiliency. Matocha completed passes of 10, 8, 16 and 17 yards to march down the field in less than 30 seconds, giving Orediggers’ kicker Hunter Pearson a shot at a 41-yard field goal. Pearson showed up clutch, nailing the game-winning field goal with one second remaining, sending the Lakers packing with a heartbreaking loss.

GVSU now looks ahead to their home opener against Colorado State University-Pueblo as they go for their fifth straight win all-time against them in as many games.

“There’s a lot of unknown. New staff, new coordinators. Obviously, there’s some history that you can do some background on the coordinators,” said Wooster.

The ThunderWolves are 1-0 after defeating Midwestern State University 37-8 Saturday evening in a game where they forced six turnovers. 

“Sun came up this morning. Sun came up yesterday. We’ve got a great football team and some awesome dudes. Excited to get back at it,” said Wooster.

Wooster’s QB reiterated the same sentiment.

“We understand that everything is still in front of us. Every opportunity that we’ve asked for is still in front of us,” Peterson said. “The best thing for us is to take it day by day and learning from the game and from our mistakes and prove it against Pueblo next week.” 

GVSU will take on CSUP in Allendale, Mich. at 7 p.m. for their “Dark Mode” game at Lubbers Stadium.

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About the Contributor
Nelson Hubbell
Nelson Hubbell, Sports Editor
Nelson Hubbell is the Sports Editor for the Lanthorn for the 2023-2024 school year. A senior at Grand Valley State University, before his time with the Lanthorn, he was a staff writer for The Collegiate Live, Grand Rapids Community College's student publication where he was a student for two years. He worked for a restaurant for four and a half years in Holland, Mich. called Hops at 84 East, a place he holds close to his heart. During his time there he was a manager for roughly two years. He loves camping, hiking and being outside in general. He is super passionate about football, basketball, baseball and hockey and loves all things sports and competition. Nelson will be pursuing a career in sportscasting as a play-by-play broadcaster and or as an analyst after his time at GVSU. Graduating Winter 2024 Major: Multimedia Journalism