Ashes to Ashland

#1 ranked Bulldogs completes comeback, beats Eagles 38-28

Ferris State Football remains perfect on the season following their first game on the road against the #21 ranked Ashland Eagles on Saturday, Sept. 9.

The #1 ranked Bulldogs(2-0, 0-0 in conference) roared back to life following a 21-10 deficit at halftime against the Eagles (0-2) for a 38-28 win

The top-25 matchup opened with the Eagles scoring three touchdowns in the first half while the Bulldogs only managed to knock through one field-goal and a rushing touchdown. Two of the Ashland scores came courtesy of former Ferris State wide-receiver Dezmin Lyburtus in what would prove as a revenge match for the former Bulldog. 

Following the less-than-perfect start, the Bulldogs did not go away quietly. A touchdown put them back within striking distance with a 17-21 deficit. The Eagles answered one final time, putting them back on top at 28-17. From there, the Bulldog offense unleashed back-to-back 50 yard passing touchdowns to claim back the lead. To add exclamation to their second half comeback, the team punched into the endzone in the final minute to make it a 38-28 victory.

Sophomore quarterback Carson Gulker rushes into the endzone for a touchdown. The quarterback ran in two touchdowns and had three passing touchdowns. Photo courtesy of Ferris State Athletics

Head coach Tony Annese understood the difficulties the Bulldogs would face coming into their first road game against Ashland. 

“I think a lot of people were nervous,” Annese said. “It’s hard to win. Period. It’s hard to win on the road twice. It’s hard to beat a great program like Ashland.”

Annese used the phrase “hearts of lions” when speaking about the “championship program’s” adversity in the hard-fought win. 

Without solid performances from sophomore quarterback Carson Gulker, senior wide-receiver Tyrese Hunt-Thompson and senior wide-receiver Xavier Wade, the Bulldogs would be sitting at 1-1 as they helped supply all four of the Bulldog touchdowns in the second half. 

Gulker had quite the game, both on the ground and through the air. Gulker went 6-12 through the air for 121 yards and three touchdowns. Utilizing his legs, he added 138 yards off 21 rushing attempts with two touchdowns.

“That was a dogfight,” Gulker said. “Credit to Ashland, they fought their tails off. We [have] just been there before, we’ve had dogfights, we’ve been where our backs [are] up against the wall and we know how to get through it.”

Gulker recognized the team around him, saying that the offensive line “fights so hard” and that the wide-receiver room “makes it look easy.”

The receiver duo of Hunt-Thompson and Wade acted as a safety valve for the Bulldog offense, combining for 10 receptions, 222 yards and three touchdowns. 

Hunt-Thompson hauled in two of three second half passing touchdowns, which, according to him, is just what he does.

“I was just doing what I was doing all game,” Hunt-Thompson said. “Attacking my man every play and being patient until the ball was thrown my way and it happened to come my way two times for touchdowns in the second half.”

When asked if we can expect this duo of Hunt-Thompson and Wade to do this more often Hunt-Thompson says, “You should expect us to dominate.”

Following their win against the Eagles, the Bulldogs sit atop the GLIAC in a three-way tie with both the Davenport Panthers and the Saginaw Valley Cardinals, all of which are 2-0.

The Bulldogs will hit the road and set their sights on a new caliber of opponent, the University of Montana Grizzlies. The tilt against the #13 ranked DI FCS school is set to kickoff on Sept. 16 at 8 p.m.

Top performers vs. Ashland:


QB Carson Gulker: 6-12 passing, 121 yards, 3 passing TDs, 138 rushing yards, 2 rushing TDs

WR Tyrese Hunt-Thompson: 91 yards on 4 receptions, 2 receiving TDs

WR Xavier Wade: 131 yards on 6 receptions, 1 TD


DL Olarere Oladipo: 2 sacks for 14 yards, 2.5 TFLs for 15 yards

DB Shon Stephens: 1 int, 0.5 TFL for 1 yard

DL Sheldon Cage: 1 sack for 5 yards, 1 TFL for 5 yards

Special teams: 

K Eddie Jewett: 1-2 FG, 5/5 XP, 8 points

P Mitchell Middleton: 2 punts for 112 yards, 2 punts within the 20 yard-line