Ferris State sweated through a 66-56 victory over Lake Erie to continue their undefeated season.
The ordinarily stout Ferris State defense surrendered the first points of the day on the opening drive of the game. A 76-yard completion from junior quarterback Mitchel Hokavar to junior wide receiver Tyler Lindgren lead to an 11-yard reception in the endzone for sophomore wide receiver Demarco Rojas.
The Bulldogs were quick to respond with a long completion of their own between junior quarterback Jason Vander Laan and junior wide receiver Kenny Feyh for 51 yards. Senior running back Jamaal Jackson rumbled into the endzone from 10 yards out to knot the game up at 7-7.
Lake Erie got the ball back, and was steadily driving down the field once again until the Bulldog defense was able to come up with an interception by the hands of senior defensive end Carlton Johnson at midfield.
The Ferris offense took over and took only two plays to find their way back to paydirt, thanks to a completion from Vander Laan to sophomore slot receiver Jamel Lockett who fought through some arm tackles for 43 yards to score. The Bulldogs put together another beauty of a drive before Vander Laan carried it through a big pileup across the goal line to extend the Bulldog lead 21-7.
Sensing the game starting to slip away, the Lake Erie offense came alive. Quickly driving down the field, senior wingback Aaron Lindgren sprinted to the corner and tapped the ball on the pylon to cut the Ferris lead to 21-14. This was the start of a series of exchanging touchdowns, as Jackson scored for the second time on a 1-yard dive.
In response, Bilal reached the landmark 1,542 yards that he needed to surpass the Lake Erie single-season rushing yardage record that he previously held. The rush that carried him beyond that mark occurred during a drive that he finished with a touchdown, thus adding a flourish to his record-breaking drive and putting the game at 28-21.
Just before halftime, with less than 2 minutes remaining, the Bulldogs drove down the field and ended up inside their own 5-yardline with 2.2 seconds to play. Instead of taking the easy field goal, Head Coach Tony Annese made a gutsy move and opted to go for the endzone. VanderLaan ended the half with an interception.
Just when the game seemed to be getting unattainable, Lake Erie scored three consecutive touchdowns and allowed the Ferris offense only one field goal during that span. The scoreboard read 45-42 with the Bulldogs seeming stunned as they watched their encouraging lead evaporate.
Facing crunch time in the 4th quarter, the Dawgs proved that they would not play dead any longer, as Vander Laan sprinted 48 yards down the sideline for a touchdown then connected with sophomore wide receiver Phil Annese in the back of the endzone to go up 59-42.
Ferris and Lake Erie traded scores until the 66-56 final score was reached.
The game was a battle of offenses, as Vander Laan finished with 499 all-purpose yards and six touchdowns. Jackson rushed for 60 yards, but was a force in the redzone, punching in 3 touchdowns. Hokavar accumulated 445 total yards and slung 6 touchdowns through the air, which tied the Lake Erie school record. Anthony Bilal rushed for 193 yards with 2 touchdowns.