The Ferris State football team disposed of the Grand Valley State Lakers in a 42-17 blowout to win the Anchor-Bone Trophy for the third consecutive year on September 20.
“I don’t even know if some of our kids knew we were playing Grand Valley till Sunday [September 13],” Ferris football head coach Tony Annese said. “That’s how quiet we are about them, we talk about a nameless opponent.”
A raucous crowd of 5,869 fans was anything but quiet when they packed Top Taggart for what started as a soggy evening. The crowd eclipsed last seasons 4,958 person crowd at the 2013 Anchor-Bone classic, which was the largest crowd of the season. With football attendance on the rise in the home opener, it begs the question as to whether attendance will become consistent through the season unlike years past.
Will become consistent through the season unlike years past.
“I think [with] all of the promotional stuff they did people will want to keep coming out to support,” sophomore nursing major Eryn Healy said.
By kickoff, the weather had mercifully retreated into a blue skies evening over Big Rapids, making way for the Bulldogs to pave Grand Valley.
The sound of hundreds of thundersticks filled the air as the Bulldogs took the field and they continued to roar as the Bulldog’s (3-0) scored early and often in the rout of the Lakers (0-3).
Grand Valley forced Vander Laan to challenge their defense through the air, and he answered. Vander Laan tossed four touchdown passes and threw for 215 yards.
The rivalry that has been built up by fans isn’t the same to the players. Once the mighty program of West Michigan, Grand Valley no longer intimidates as they did when they won 11 consecutive Anchor-Bone trophy games between 2000-2011.
“Coach is doing a great job of changing our mindsets that Grand Valley’s on this big pedestal and we’re lucky to play against them,” Vander Laan said. “The past three years, this is a team where we go out and we know we’re better than them and we have to prove it on the field.”
The Ferris defense stood out in the 2014 installment of the Anchor-Bone classic. In 2013, Ferris gave up 44 points but managed to win with their offense. A 27-point defensive improvement aided the now nationally ranked No. 14 Bulldogs.
Junior cornerback Troy Smith stepped up midway through the third quarter with an interception. Senior linebacker Darnell Morris and redshirt freshman KC Zenner had 11 and seven tackles respectively, with Zenner adding a forced fumble for the defense.
The offense was led by Vander Laan as the Bulldog’s recorded 496 total yards and scored 14 points off of the two Grand Valley turnovers.
Junior receiver Shakur Sanders had a career best game as he posted three touchdown receptions and had 103 receiving yards on the day.
The Bulldog’s next game is slated for Saturday, Sept. 27 as they face the Cardinals of Saginaw Valley State University. Kick off is slated for 7 p.m.