Ferris State defense shines in win over Northwood

TACKLE: Ferris State University defensive back Tavierre Thomas (2) reaches to tackle Northwood running back Shane Barron (27) on Saturday at Top Taggart Field. The Bulldogs held the Timberwolves to three points. (Pioneer photo/Ryan Zuke)

TACKLE: Ferris State University defensive back Tavierre Thomas (2) reaches to tackle Northwood running back Shane Barron (27) on Saturday at Top Taggart Field. The Bulldogs held the Timberwolves to three points. (Pioneer photo/Ryan Zuke)

BIG RAPIDS — Ferris State University’s defense was 14th in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in passing yards allowed a year ago.

It gave up 261.6 passing yards per game, but in Saturday’s 40-3 season-opening win against Northwood University, it allowed just 156.

Timberwolves’ quarterback Mark Morris was 12 of 25 passing.

“Defense won the game for us,” FSU head coach Tony Annese said. “We really made them one-dimensional, and when you make an option team have to throw it like that, you should have some pretty good success defending them.”

Annese said he was impressed with his team’s secondary.

“Last year, we led the GLIAC in rush defense, so we were stout against the run,” Annese said. “But we gave up some big plays in the pass game. Our secondary, there’s a lot of talent back there, so hopefully they’re the group that carries the way for us to being an outstanding defense.”

The defensive line was the team’s main enigma heading into the season with a handful of starters graduating from last year’s squad. But it passed its first test Saturday, limiting NU to 86 yards rushing.

Dylan Roney, a defensive end transfer from the Naval Academy, had 1.5 sacks, while sophomore defensive end Marquis Dawsey also had a sack.

“I thought all and all, that is where the game was won, with our defensive front,” Annese said. “We have a great group of defensive linemen. I was really pleased them.”

The Bulldogs will face a tougher test next week as they travel to Grand Valley State University, which has scored 63 points total in two wins thus far.

“Coach Annese will always say they are not our rivals,” FSU senior quarterback Jason Vander Laan said, “and we try and look at it with that standpoint as well, but it’s just going to be fun because it’s a cool atmosphere down there. A lot of people from Ferris are going to go down there, so we’re excited.”

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Posted by Ryan Zuke

Ryan is the sports editor for the Big Rapids Pioneer, covering local prep sports and Ferris State athletics. He can be contacted at (231) 592-8363 or rzuke@pioneergroup.com.

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