The stage was set as the Walsh College Cavaliers visited Top Taggart Field for the first time in history as Ferris looked to improve to 3-1 on the year.
On the opening drive of the game, Ferris’ offense managed to get four yards before turning it over on a fumble at the Ferris 34 yard line. The Bulldog defense stood strong as they stopped the Cavaliers to zero yards on a three-play drive.
There was no scoring until late in the first quarter when Ferris found the end zone as red shirt freshman quarterback Jason VandarLaan hit junior tight end Jace Heneveld for a 34 yard score, capping off a six-minute 84 yard drive. The extra point attempt was failed, which gave the Bulldogs a 6-0 lead with 3:18 remaining in the first quarter.
The defenses for both teams held the offenses stagnant for the rest of the first half, as the next five drives for the teams resulted in five punts followed by a fumble recovery and a missed field goal attempt by Walsh College to put an end to the first half.
At the start of the second half, it was much of the same until a one-yard touchdown run by Toba Olarewaju of Walsh College gave the Cavaliers 7-6 with 1:12 remaining in the third quarter.
It wasn’t until early in the fourth quarter the Bulldogs took hold on the game, as senior linebacker Tayo Moss grabbed a dropped hand-off and raced it down the field for an 82-yard touchdown to give the Bulldogs a lead they wouldn’t surrender.
The 82-yard fumble recovery also broke the school record for longest fumble recovery, as it eclipsed Keith Thompson’s 78-yard recovery back in 1994.
Senior running back Skylar Stoker said, “The [defense] played real well. They tackled well, broke up passes and the fumble recovery was really important in this game.”
All the momentum was on Ferris’ side as only one play after the score the Cavaliers fumbled it on their own 34 yard line.
It took Ferris only five plays and two minutes to punch another score in against Wash College, and the game was suddenly 20-7 in favor of the Bulldogs.
The Cavaliers would make it closer as they connected on a 45-yard pass for a touchdown with six minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, but it was the defense once again as they halted the Cavaliers’ final effort on a fourth and ten on the Cavaliers’ 21 yard line in the waning minutes of the game to improve the Bulldogs to 3-1 overall on the season and 2-1 in GLIAC conference play.
“It was nice to get out there and win the game. We stepped up and even though it was a little frustrating for the offense, we still played well to get the win,” Stoker said after the game.
The Ferris offense totaled 275 yards on the day, and VandarLaan came through with 185 of those yards. Every yard was needed in the end. Moss not only ran a fumble back for a touchdown, but also led the tough Bulldog defense with 13 total tackles on the day. This win also notches the first home victory for new head coach Tony Annese.
Next week Ferris travels to Saginaw Valley State for another GLIAC contest on Saturday, Sept. 29 at 7 p.m. and looks to improve on the impressive start the Bulldogs have earned thus far.