The Ferris State Football team did their part for an outside chance at the playoffs after defeating the Northern Michigan Wildcats at Top Taggart Field.
The 35-22 victory was a dominating performance, supplemented by the return of Head Coach Tony Annese.
“Yesterday I really felt the love,” Annese said. “It was sunny and I came back and everyone was in such high spirits, you ultimately coach for that feeling.”
The game also featured performance that hasn’t been matched in NCAA Division II Football History and
In the process of sophomore quarterback Jason Vander Laan’s “Quiet” 211-yard rushing day, he broke the Division II single season QB rushing yards record.
“Some of the coaches call him the terminator,” Annese said. “He got his hand banged up last week and that’s really the only thing that he’s ever really had that’s held him back this year.”
Coming into the day, Vander Laan had 1,396 yards on the ground during the season and needed 87 to pass the record. He finished with 1,606 rushing yards on the season.
“He’s the same guy that last year I think played eight games with a sports hernia,” Annese said smiling.
Though it was the focus for much of the day in the press box, there was still important football to be played.
The Bulldogs gave up a 100-yard kick return by Christian Jessie for a touchdown to open the game, which dampened the Dawg’s faithful.
Vander Laan answered with a 1-yard punch to tie the score just over five minutes later.
The Wildcats were slowed after quarterback Shaye Brown ran out of downfield options, and they settled for a field goal two minutes later for a 10-7 lead.
Vander Laan continued his stellar day by rushing in for back-to-back short yardage touchdowns, putting Ferris up 21-10. He followed that up with a 16-yard touchdown pass to Jake Lampman to put the Bulldogs in a commanding 28-10 lead.
At the end of the half, Brown dropped back to pass and was immediately pressured. Brown slipped through four tacklers, spun around in reverse twice and launched a pass that safety Jamar Wimberly snagged for one of his two picks of the day.
“We thought they were gonna do a ‘Hail Mary’ and they lined up in kind of a different formation,” Wimberly said. “So coaches just told us to back up, [Brown] kept scrambling left and right and finally I picked it off, tried to run and I got tired.”
After halftime, Lampman again found the endzone on a 3-yard rush to cap Ferris’ scoring at 35-10.
The Wildcats frantically managed to punch in two scores, but missed on both two point conversions.
The clock ran out on Ferris State’s season as Vander Laan, appropriately, took the final snaps to a wild season, in which they finished at 8-3.
“I don’t want anyone to think that was all me,” Vander Laan said. “All the credit goes to the O-Line. They’re the tightest knit group on the team and I was tearing up on the field [At] losing those guys.”