In a battle of the top 15 nationally ranked teams, the seventh ranked Bulldogs took down the number thirteen ranked Panthers 28-7 last Saturday.
Ferris used their best defensive effort in GLIAC play to pick up their fourth conference win and move to 8-1 on the season.
“We knew we were playing a quality opponent,” head coach Tony Annese said. “I thought the defense set the tone and did what they needed to do.”
The Bulldogs only allowed 183 yards of total offense to the Panthers, including just 24 yards rushing. Ferris recorded two interceptions in the contest, one of which resulted in the first score of the game on a 43 yard pick-six by redshirt freshman defensive back Justin Payoute.
“Our coach called cover three, and I knew I had to go down to the flat,” Payoute said. “I saw number one come out for the bubble, and the ball just landed in my hands.”
The Bulldogs had trouble moving the ball early offensively. Ferris began the game with three punts, two fumbles and one turnover on downs on their first six possessions. On drive number seven, the Bulldogs found the endzone on a two-yard touchdown run from Tyrese Hunt-Thompson with 47 seconds left to go in the half.
Davenport came out of halftime with momentum virtue of many long pass plays. After gaining 52 yards on six plays, Panther quarterback Jason Whittaker found Roy Livingston on a 23-yard touchdown pass to cut the Bulldog lead to 14-7.
In response, Ferris began to dial in offensively with great rhythm. The Bulldogs used many receiver sweeps and reverses to open up the running game. The drive was capped off with a rushing touchdown by Emari O-Brien from five yards out.
“We were just trying to get a rhythm,” Annese said. “In the third quarter we finally got our rhythm on offense.”
The Bulldogs added an insurance score on the next drive courtesy of a Mylik Mitchell three-yard rushing touchdown, who returned to the field for the first time since week six against Grand Valley.
When asked post game about what got the momentum going for the offense in the second half, Mitchell mentioned they used a particular formation that continued to move the ball against Davenport’s defense.
“We got into a formation that they weren’t adjusting well to, so we just kept calling the same play,” Mitchell said.
Ferris possessed the ball for 13 of the final 19 minutes to run out the clock and secure the 21-point victory.
The Bulldogs moved into second place in the GLIAC standings with the win and third in the NCAA DII Super Region Three rankings.
Offensively, Ferris recorded 448 yards of total offense, including 294 coming on the ground. Marcus Taylor led the attack on the ground with 105 yards on 13 carries, followed by CJ Jefferson with 95 yards on eight attempts. Jefferson headed the Bulldogs receiving with a 64 yard effort on four catches. Carson Gulker drew the start for Ferris at quarterback, throwing for 32 yards and rushing for 29 more. Mitchell paced the passing game for Ferris with 122 yards on eight of eighteen completions.
In a game where rain and wind were a factor, Annese knew his team had to be prepared.
“We talked a lot about [the weather],” Annese said. “I look at the forecast obsessively like 20 times a day.”
The Bulldog defense recorded three sacks in the victory, including two from Olarere Oladipo and one from Caleb Murphy to reach 16.5 on the season. Cyntell Williams paced the team with nine tackles, followed by Payoute with seven and Murphy with six. Jacarvis Alexandre added the Bulldogs’ second interception, while Williams recorded the long pass break up for the Bulldogs.
Ferris will finish the regular season on Saturday, Nov. 12, at Wayne State. Kickoff is slated at 1 p.m. from Detroit.