UPDATE: The Bulldogs will head to Mankato, Minnesota to face the Minnesota State University-Mankato Mavericks Saturday, Dec. 8.
The Ferris football team is moving on to the NCAA Division II Final Four, and it wasn’t even close.
The Bulldogs headed to Cliff Harris Stadium in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, to take on the Ouachita Baptist University Tigers Saturday, Dec. 1. To Ferris’ surprise, the Tigers wouldn’t put up much of a fight, eventually losing 37-14 on their home field.
Saturday started well for the Bulldogs, as they were able to get their starting quarterback, Ferris junior Jayru Campbell, on the field. Campbell didn’t post his usual stat line, throwing for 128 yards and a touchdown, and chipping in 47 yards on the ground.
Ferris head coach Tony Annese and his athletes won nonetheless, employing a ground-and-pound game plan, determined to run the rock down the throats of Ouachita Baptist.
The Bulldogs opened scoring in the first quarter on a 14-yard scamper by Ferris senior running back Derrick Portis and never looked back, outscoring the Tigers 27-0 in the first half. Late in the second quarter, the Tigers were driving until Ferris sophomore linebacker Sam Heyboer picked off a pass and returned it to midfield. The interception helped set up the Bulldogs as they were able to extend their lead on a short 2-yard touchdown pass from Campbell to Ferris redshirt freshman receiver Sy Barnett.
The Tigers had a bit more life in the second half, but only managed to cut into the Bulldogs’ lead with two touchdowns. Ferris held on and rumbled their way to victory.
The previously undefeated Tigers of Ouachita Baptist never appeared to gain rhythm, as every chance they had to score was wiped out by the Bulldogs’ defense. Ferris’ offense complemented their aggressive nature as they continually held the ball and drove up and down the field running all over what was considered a very good Tiger defense.
Ouachita Baptist only allowed 309.5 yards of total offense per game this season, but the Bulldogs managed to blow that number out of the water, gaining 509 yards of offense. A big key was the run game, a unit that accounted for 357 of those total yards.
Ferris’ offense was led by Campbell, who threw for 128 yards and a touchdown, and chipped in 47 yards on the ground. On the defensive side of the ball, Heyboer led the way with seven tackles, one of which was a tackle for loss. He also had that key interception.
The victory over Ouachita Baptist punches the Bulldogs’ ticket to the National Semifinals, where they will take on either Valdosta State (Valdosta, Georgia) or Minnesota State-Mankato (Mankato, Minnesota) Saturday, Dec. 8.
Read about the NCAA Division II National Semifinals pairings here.