Nobody said it would be easy, but the 2014 Ferris State football team has ran the tables en route to an undefeated season and earned a first round bye in the NCAA Division II Tournament.
The Bulldogs have been placed in the fourth region of the tournament, along with two other GLIAC foes, the Huskies of Michigan Tech and the Ohio Dominican Panthers. This marks second consecutive year that three GLIAC teams have been placed in the fourth Super Region.
With the first round bye, No. 1 Ferris State (11-0) will await the winner of the first round match-up between No. 5 Ohio Dominican (9-1) and No. 4 Colorado Mines (10-1) on Nov. 22. The Bulldogs have the opportunity to face Ohio Dominican on Nov. 29, if they can get past the Colorado Mines Orediggers.
The Orediggers have a prolific passing offense, led by sophomore quarterback Justin Dvorak. Dvorak was second in the country in Division II in passing yards and touchdowns, finishing the 2014 campaign with 3,878 yards and 34 touchdowns. Colorado Mines finished third in total offense in Division II with 522.8 yards per game and were first in total first downs with 320.
The Bulldogs defeated Ohio Dominican, as a part of their undefeated season, on Oct. 18 in Columbus, Ohio in a match-up where both teams entered the game undefeated. The Bulldogs walked away with the win, logging 459 yards of total offense in the 34-19 victory.
Junior quarterback, and Harlon-Hill nominee, Jason Vander Laan led the Bulldog offense with 18 pass completions on 26 attempts for 207 yards and two touchdowns. Vander Laan also logged 63 yards on the ground with one score. Red shirt freshman Jahaan Brown was a force for the Bulldog offense as well, as he recorded 124 yards on the ground with one touchdown. Brown also had two receptions for 59 yards to lead all Bulldog receivers.
The junior signal caller has been a problem for opposing defenses all season long. Vander Laan finished the 2014 campaign 15th in the nation in rushing yards with 1,328, by far the most for a quarterback in Division II. His 19 rushing touchdowns was tied for the fifth most in Division II, and the most by a quarterback. Vander Laan also logged 2,140 yards through the air for the Bulldog offense, with 27 touchdowns, which was the ninth most in Division II, and just four interceptions.
The Bulldogs first game during the NCAA Division II Football Playoffs will come on Nov. 29 at Top Taggart Field. Game time is to be determined.
Ferris have five other playoff berths in school history, with all five coming between 1992-1996. The Bulldogs are 5-5 all-time in playoff history. The deepest run in school history was to the 1995 National Semi-Final. It’s down to the top 24 teams in Division II.