A national top ten match up sets the stage for Ferris State’s attempt at a conference championship and national playoff appearance.
The nationally ranked no. 7 Ohio Dominican Panthers will host the nationally ranked No. 11 Ferris State Bulldogs on Oct. 18 in Columbus, Ohio in what will be a must win game for the Bulldogs if they have hopes of winning the GLIAC in the 2014 season.
“Staying focused is the main concern,” redhsirt junior quarterback Jason Vander Laan said. “We can’t get caught up in what we have done so far or how we played because each win is different.
The only opponent that Ferris and Ohio Dominican have shared to this point is Grand Valley State University.
Dominican narrowly escaped, winning 28-24 in Allendale. Ferris lambasted Grand Valley, dropping them 42-17 at Top Taggart Field on Sep. 20 in the home opener.
Where Dominican has strived is on the defensive side of the ball.
“ODU will unarguably be the best defense we have faced so far this year,” Vander Laan said.
The Panthers own the best defense in the conference, allowing 13.8 points per game, and hold opposing offensive attacks to a GLIAC best 150.7 yards per game.
Dominican has two of the top ten pass rushers in the GLIAC in Sydney Omameh and Di’Andre Harrison.
The two have helped the Panthers force the second most sacks in the conference.
“Their d-line and linebacker play is a lot stronger than the teams we have faced,” Vander Laan said. “They make less mistakes than other teams and are more talented as a whole.”
Harrison and Omameh are juniors on the Panther’s football sqaud and lead a defense that has been together for a long time now.
“They’ve had a lot of success playing as a unit,” Vander Laan said. “They are a mature group and very fundamental.”
On the offensive side of the football, senior quarterback Mark Miller has thrown for 1,499 yards and 13 touchdowns in his six starts to lead the Panthers. He averages 249.8 passing yards per game.
Miller was an honorable mention on the All-GLIAC team in 2013.
The senior had his finest game in a 38-20 win over Ashland where he completed 81.8 percent of his passes for 310 yards and five touchdowns back on September 20.
Since then, his completion percentage has steadily dropped. Miller threw no touchdowns and two interceptions in a home contest against Hillsdale on Oct. 11, and passed for 222 yards.
Dominican also has the third leading rusher in terms of yards per game in Brandon Schoen. Schoen has 712 yards and seven touchdowns, and averages 118.7 yards per game on the ground.
Schoen also has the most rushing attempts in the GLIAC with 139.
Meanwhile, Jason Vander Laan leads the prolific Ferris offense into battle with a GLIAC leading 18 passing touchdowns. The redshirt junior quarterback also has eight rushing touchdowns and averages 109.3 yards on the ground per game.
The Bulldogs own the top offense in the GLIAC, averaging 557.8 yards per game, which is nearly 80 yards more per game than the next best offense. Ohio Dominican is fifth in the GLIAC in total offense.
Ferris owns the GLIAC’s second best scoring defense, giving up just 15.3 points per game, but gives up an average of 215.7 yards per game passing, which is 10th best in the GLIAC.
Ohio Dominican is coming off of a narrow 9-3 victory on their turf against the Hillsdale College Chargers, and has a relatively easy remaining schedule.
Ferris last played the Panthers during the 2011 season, when they visited Big Rapids.
Ferris took the contest by a score of 35-13. Current Bulldog receiver Jake Lampman, running back Jamaal Jackson and corner back AJ McEwen all played in the contest.
In the AFCA coaches poll, Ferris is up two spots from last week, and Dominican moved up one. A Ferris win could flip the two team, and propel the Bulldogs into the top ten.
The undefeated Bulldogs also have a contest against the Michigan Tech Huskies on the road in Houghton the next weekend.
Tech is also undefeated, giving the Bulldogs a tough look as they will at most see a team with one loss in each of the next two weeks.
Kickoff of the Ohio Dominican game is slated for 1:00 p.m. in Columbus. Listeners can tune in on Sunny 97.3 FM on the radio and online.