Article written by Keith Salowich, Ferris State Torch
The high-flying #13 Ferris State offense got off to an uncharacteristically slow start on their way to a 49-21 pummeling of the Findlay Oilers. This win was an indicator of not only the Bulldogs ability to overcome adversity, but also their versatility in all aspects of the game.
From the start of the game, it was clear that the Oilers had done their homework on the Bulldogs. Having seen evidence of the Bulldogs’ scoring prowess, they ate up most of the first quarter during their first two drives, effectively minimalizing the Bulldogs’ time of possession and opportunities to score. Findlay also looked to deliver big hits early and often in hopes of slowing FSU’s offense.
The first quarter came to a close with both teams remaining scoreless. This was thanks in large part to two back-to-back perfectly placed punts inside the 1-yard line by both teams.
“It was kind of hard for us to get into our rhythm offensively. We stalled them defensively and with our special teams which kept the momentum on our side, so even when we were out of the game for six or seven minutes at a time we could come back on and everybody was still cheering and the momentum was on our side which really helps us. Still, it kind of stinks that we weren’t able to do some things offensively that we had done in prior games.” Junior quarterback Jason Vander Laan said.
Despite having started in their own end zone to start the second quarter, the Oilers were able to drive the length of the field before scoring the first points of the day on a pass from senior quarterback Verlon Reed to tight end Anthony Federico.
Ferris State responded by driving 75 yards down the field on the ensuing drive which ended with senior running back Jamaal Jackson powering through a pile and across the goal line from two yards out.
For the second consecutive week, the Bulldogs scored just before halftime, this time going 44 yards before junior quarterback Jason Vander Laan delivered a strike to sophomore wide receiver Shakur Sanders. Sanders meandered around defenders and reached paydirt, leaving the score going into halftime 14-7.
On the opening kickoff of the second half, redshirt freshman running back Jahaan brown fielded the kick, broke a tackle and straddled the sideline on his way to a 90-yard return for a touchdown.
Findlay took over and moved the ball right around midfield. It was then that the Bulldog defense appeared to step up and stall the drive. However, facing third and long, Reed broke free of the collapsing pocket and zigzagged around multiple swarming Dawgs before completing a long pass into the red zone. Once again, the Bulldogs defense held up, and the Oilers’ field goal unit took the field. Findlay’s attack caught the Ferris defense off guard once more when they shifted into an offensive formation and backup quarterback Jesse Slone threw a short touchdown pass to long snapper Dylan Hirzel.
Ferris accounted for the next two touchdowns of the game, driving 40, and then 54 yards, both capped off with a short Vander Laan scamper into the end zone. With the score at 28-14 and the Bulldogs gaining steam, the game appeared to be getting away from the Oilers.
The Oilers completed yet another long pass during a 73 yard drive resulting in a short touchdown run by Reed. With the momentum on their side, the Oilers then drove into the red zone with their next offensive possession. Just as Findlay looked to be cutting the lead to one possession, junior cornerback Troy Smith grabbed an interception and brought it back 90 yards for a defensive touchdown.
The sudden turn of events seemed to take the life out of the Oilers, and the Bulldogs capitalized by driving 51 yards before Jahaan Brown found the end zone for the second time. These were to be the final points of the day, in a game where the Bulldogs’ offense, defense and special teams all accounted for a touchdown.
“It was a grind for us here, since we had to score a lot of different ways and thank God we did because that team came here and fought hard.” Head Coach Tony Annese said.
Another key to victory for the Bulldogs was the successful containment of Ohio State transfer Reed, who ended his day with 0.1 yards per carry.
“Well he was really athletic. Our goal was to try to keep him contained. Our biggest thing was just keeping him in the pocket and forcing him to pass and in the run game our guys up front played aggressively, moved guys out of the way and made tackles.” Senior defensive tackle Marcus Cribbs said.
The # 13 Bulldogs will be home again next week as they take on the Tiffin Dragons in hopes of extending their undefeated streak to 6-0.