Bulldogs ready to battle Dragons

No. 13 Ferris State looks to stay undefeated with win over Tiffin

BIG RAPIDS — The Ferris State football team kept its perfect record intact with a 49-21 homecoming victory over Findlay last Saturday, but the game wasn’t as easy for the Bulldogs as the final score indicated.

The Bulldogs and Oilers knocked each other around with several hard hits on both sides in a contest that saw the Bulldogs turn the ball over three times, but ultimately pull away in the end with a 21-point outburst in the fourth quarter.

As 13th-ranked Ferris State (5-0, 4-0 GLIAC) looks to keep the train rolling with a home conference matchup against Tiffin (3-2, 3-2 GLIAC) on Saturday, head coach Tony Annese said as his team hits the middle portion of its season, he’s trying to keep his players as healthy as possible as the Bulldogs enter a crucial part of their schedule with roads trips to Ohio Dominican (5-0, 5-0 GLIAC) and Michigan Tech (4-0, 4-0 GLIAC) on the horizon following Saturday’s game.

“It was one of those games where it was very physical and a lot of kids got knocked around pretty good,” Annese said of the Findlay game. “We’re alright right now health-wise, but you’re going to get those bumps and bruises that you have to learn to play through and that’s just the grind of the season. We overcame a lot against Findlay considering we had three turnovers, but we were able to win a game against a very good football team.”

The Bulldogs faced one of their biggest defensive tests of the season so far against Findlay with the job of holding down dual-threat senior quarterback Verlon Reed, but they stepped up to limit him to just  two yards net rushing and 191 yards with a touchdown and an interception through the air.

Things won’t get any easier against the Dragons as they have another dual-threat signal caller for the Bulldogs to contend with in sophomore Antonio Pipkin. Pipkin currently ranks third in the GLIAC in passing yards (243.6 yards per game) and is coming off  a performance against Wayne State last weekend where he completed 78.1 percent of his passes for 291 yards and three scores, with another 40 yards coming on the ground as he accounted for 331 of Tiffin’s 409 yards of offense in a 26-23 victory.

Pipkin will be facing a much tougher against the Bulldogs, however, as their secondary currently is giving up the third-least yards through the air (176.8 yards per game) in the GLIAC while their front seven has helped them give up the second-least amount of rushing yards (116.2 yards per game) in the conference.

The Bulldogs continue to rank first in the GLIAC in scoring offense (48 points per game) and have done it both through the air (208.6 yards per game) and on the ground (307.4 yards per game) with a myriad of playmakers leading the way for the FSU offense.

But one player who could see his role on offense expand this week is redshirt freshman running back Jahaan Brown. Brown had a breakout game against the Oilers with 156 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns, one coming on a 99-yard kickoff return and the other a 10-yard touchdown run to put the game away in the fourth quarter. That performance not only earned him GLIAC Special Teams Player of the Week honors, it also has earned him more chances to make plays on offense, according to Annese.

“There’s only one ball and we have so many guys between our backs and our (slot receivers) who can run it effectively, but Jahaan’s a playmaker,” Annese said. “We’re going to get him more involved in the offense this week and I think he’s earned it with the way he’s been playing.”

Saturday’s game is scheduled for a noon kickoff at Top Taggart Field.

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