FSU sinks Lakers for first win in rivalry since 1999

Bulldogs run all over GVSU to claim Anchor-Bone Classic Trophy

ALLENDALE – With a little belief, Ferris State’s football team ran all over No. 3 Grand Valley in a 40-24 win to capture the Anchor-Bone classic for its first win in the rivalry since 1999.

Ending an 11-game losing streak to the Lakers on Saturday, the Bulldogs took it to GVSU, rushing for 457 yards in a win that allowed FSU players to clutch the Anchor-Bone Trophy for the first time in its existence. After a couple of early turnovers put FSU in a 17-0 hole in the first quarter, the Bulldogs dominated play the rest of the way, outscoring the Lakers 40-7.

HARDWARE: Ferris State players celebrate after claiming the Anchore-Bone Classic Trophy. The Bulldogs defeated GVSU, 40-24, for their first win in the series since 1999. (Courtesy photo/FSU photo services, Ben Amato)

A sellout crowd of more than 13,000 fans witnessed the Bulldogs’ upset over GVSU on the same field it dropped a 57-10 decision in 2011.

FSU head coach Tony Annese said he realized just how important the rivalry was when he took the job in Big Rapids on Dec. 22, and believes the win was an important one for the program.

“I’m very pleased for our seniors, the alumni base and the Big Rapids community,” he said. “It’s been a long time coming, and they’ve felt the pain from our interactions with Grand Valley in the past in football. To me, the seniors and the entire team gave the alumni base a huge gift I hope they appreciate. Who would’ve thought that in the first sellout of Lubbers Stadium in a long time that you would hear chants of ‘FSU’ and nothing else in the fourth quarter?”

Annese had talked about the “power of belief” with his team prior to Saturday’s victory — begging them to believe good things will happen if they focus on their own game.

“I hate to say it, but it resonated quite prominently that it was almost like we were waiting for something bad to happen,” he said of the program’s mentality entering the season. “Our players have had to overcome that and now the feeling is that we can get this done. Our work ethic and attitude have been great, and now the belief system is starting to develop.”

The win was one of the biggest for FSU football in recent memory and gave coach Annese and his staff a signature win in their first season, winning the battle at the line of scrimmage to improve to 4-2 on the season. The Lakers dropped their first game of the season, falling to 5-1.

GVSU jumped out quickly with a 17-0 first quarter lead that was helped by two costly Bulldog turnovers. Brandan Green caught a 34-yard TD pass from Isiah Grimes with 8:38 to play in the first to give GVSU the early advantage.

The Lakers added a second score only two minutes later as Grimes scored from four-yards away on a short 25-yard scoring drive. Grand Valley State added a 22-yard field goal at 3:03 of the first quarter to push the advantage to 17 points.

From that point, however, the Bulldogs outscored the Lakers 40-7 en route to the win.

Annese said after the Bulldogs were able to overcome their early miscues and get the ground game going, they felt confident in their ability to move the ball against the Lakers, averaging 7.5 yards per carry on 61 rushing attempts.

“We gave them momentum to start the game and we made mistakes that are sometimes fatal,” he said. “Our kids didn’t quit, and that’s become a big part of this team’s character — they never get too high or too low. We’re not a flashy offense, but we were productive in chewing up clock and getting the first downs when we needed to.”

The FSU scoring started with only 25 seconds left in the initial frame on a 33-yard field goal from Austin Kantola to cap a 35-yard drive in nine plays.

Ferris State then drove 80 yards in nine plays to trim the margin to 17-10 with 9:20 remaining in the half on a 6-yard scoring run from quarterback Jason Vander Laan. He added a second touchdown with 5:24 left in the second on a 63-yard QB sprint up the middle to tie up the game.

The Lakers managed to push their lead back to 24-17 when Kirk Spencer scored from 26-yards away with only 3:13 left in the half. However, the Bulldogs received a 32-yard field goal from Kantola to cut the halftime deficit to 24-20.

The third period belonged to the Bulldogs. Tailback Korey Ringer opened the half with a 70-yard touchdown run on FSU’s first offensive play to give the Bulldogs a 27-24 lead.

After getting the ball back, the Bulldogs then drove 71 yards in 12 plays to take a 10-point lead with 9:15 to go on a one-yard touchdown run by Skyler Stoker.

The final Bulldog score was a 56-yard scoring run by Jamaal Jackson with 1:06 left in the frame. From that point, the Bulldog defense was able to hold and FSU was able to run out the clock in the fourth quarter.

The Lakers totaled 363 yards on 62 plays with 175 coming on the ground and 188 in the air on 14-of-34 passing for Grimes. He was intercepted once by FSU senior Jaime Barerra late in the fourth quarter, which helped preserve the win.

The front six for the Bulldogs set the tone for shutting down the Lakers’ offense attack, which came into Saturday’s contest averaging more than 51 points per game. FSU’s pass defense held GVSU’s leading receiver Charles Johnson to just one catch for four yards.

“The front four held up very well, I thought, and put pressure on their quarterback,” Annese said. “Our linebackers were incredible. They had been a vertical passing team, but we took that away from them.”

Vander Laan ran for 185 yards and two scores while Ringer added 131 yards and Jackson ran for 107 yards. Vander Laan also threw for 79 yards on 10-of-17 passing.

Senior linebacker Tayo Moss led the Bulldog defense with 14 stops while Jordan Morgan had nine. Charles Hill paced GVSU with 10 tackles.

Ferris State returns home for homecoming against Hillsdale next Saturday with kickoff set for 2 p.m. at Top Taggart Field where Annese hopes the Bulldogs can build off one of the biggest wins for FSU in recent memory.

“Hillsdale won the GLIAC North last season and they’re No. 1 in the conference in rushing defense,” Annese said. “I’ll follow the 24-hour rule and enjoy this one a little longer, but we’ll be ready to go and try to keep this thing going next week.”

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