No. 6 Ferris State football routs No. 13 Michigan Tech, 37-3, for sole possession of first in the GLIAC

HOUGHTON — In the battle for the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Conference Athletic Conference title, the No. 6 Ferris State football team put itself in the driver’s seat for a GLIAC championship following a lopsided 37-3 victory over No. 13 Michigan Tech on Saturday at Sherman Field.

The Bulldogs (8-0, 7-0 GLIAC) are now the lone unbeaten team in the GLIAC after taking down the previously undefeated Huskies (6-1, 6-1 GLIAC) this weekend and the previously unbeaten Ohio Dominican Panthers (6-1, 6-1 GLIAC) the previous Saturday in a 34-19 victory for FSU. Ferris State has three games left to close out the season, with its three opponents sporting a combined record of 8-16.

BRINGING THE PRESSURE: Ferris State’s Carlton Johnson (11) splits a pair of Michigan Tech offensive linemen in his pursuit of Michigan Tech’s Tyler Scarlett (left) during Saturday’s game at Sherman Field in Houghton. The Bulldogs cruised to a 37-3 victory to remain undefeated at 8-0 and take over sole possession of first place in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC). (Courtesy photo/Kevin McDermott)

BRINGING THE PRESSURE: Ferris State’s Carlton Johnson (11) splits a pair of Michigan Tech offensive linemen in his pursuit of Michigan Tech’s Tyler Scarlett (left) during Saturday’s game at Sherman Field in Houghton. The Bulldogs cruised to a 37-3 victory to remain undefeated at 8-0 and take over sole possession of first place in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC). (Courtesy photo/Kevin McDermott)

The victory also pushed the Bulldogs’ winning streak to a school-record 12 games dating back to last season, in addition to giving FSU its second-straight win against the Huskies after losing the previous 15 matchups.

“It was certainly a ‘Wow’ moment for our guys to go up there and win a game against such a quality program,” FSU head coach Tony Annese said. “Last season was the first time in 15 years that we won (in Houghton) and we went up there after a long road trip to Ohio Dominican last week and played in such a dominating fashion to get this win.”

Ferris State’s defense made the first big play of the game when FSU senior defensive end Carlton Johnson recovered a fumble by Michigan Tech senior quarterback Tyler Scarlett in the opening minutes of the first quarter, setting up the Bulldogs on the MTU 24 with 12:55 left in the quarter.

The Bulldogs didn’t waste any time cashing in on the Michigan Tech turnover, with sophomore receiver Shakur Sanders finding the end zone on a 5-yard scoring run to give FSU a 7-0 lead with 11:05 to go in the opening stanza.

After the FSU defense forced a three-and-out on the next possession, the Bulldogs marched 64 yards in six plays, ending the drive with a 10-yard scoring strike from junior quarterback Jason Vander Laan to sophomore slot receiver Jamel Lockett to extend the lead to 13-0 after the ensuing extra point attempt was blocked.

Ferris State tacked on a 29-yard field goal from redshirt freshman kicker Mitch Bredberg in the final minute of the half to head into the break with a 16-0 edge. The field goal was set up by a key fourth-down stop by the Bulldog defense on the previous drive, with the Huskies failing to convert a fake punt try to give the Bulldogs the ball on the MTU 38 with 2:51 left in the half.

The Bulldog defense once again rose to the occasion early in the third quarter when FSU senior linebacker James Wimberly forced a fumble on Michigan Tech senior running back Charlie Leffingwell that was recovered by FSU redshirt freshman linebacker K.C. Zenner on the MTU 9 with 12:48 to play in the quarter.

Redshirt freshman running back Jahaan Brown then found the end zone from a yard out on 4th-and-goal a few plays later to extend the Bulldogs’ lead to 23-0.

Ferris State continued to pour it on in the third quarter, with Vander Laan scoring on a two-yard run midway throughout the quarter before Brown closed the quarter out with a 40-yard touchdown scamper to send FSU into the fourth quarter with a 37-0 lead.

The Huskies finally got on the scoreboard early in the fourth with a 31-yard field goal from Garrett Mead, but the FSU defense held the Huskies out of the end zone the rest of the way to claim the 37-3 victory.

“I told our players going in that the winner of this game has the decisive advantage of being on top of the GLIAC standings by a game with three games to play and I didn’t have to say anything else,” Annese said. “Our kids rose up to the challenge (Saturday).”

The Bulldogs had 353 yards of total offense, with 322 coming on the ground, while the Huskies gained 304 yards in a game that had both teams fighting strong winds to get anything going in the passing game.

Brown led the FSU ground game with 150 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries while Vander Laan carried the ball 18 times for 134 yards and a score, in addition to going 4-of-10 for 31 yards with a touchdown and an interception through the air.

The Bulldog defense forced three turnovers on the day and was led by junior defensive end Justin Zimmer, who had nine tackles with 2.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks, followed by sophomore linebacker Anthony Darkangelo with nine tackles.

Ferris State will return home next weekend to open a two-game home stand with a game against Lake Erie (4-4, 3-4 GLIAC) on Saturday, Nov.1, at Top Taggart Field.

“We know we have to take care of business these next three weeks if we want to be GLIAC champions,” Annese said. “We have the luxury of coming back home this weekend and that’s huge for us. We just have to focus on taking care of business one game at a time.”

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