The #1 ranked Ferris State Bulldogs emerged victorious in a tough GLIAC matchup against the Cardinals of Saginaw Valley State on Saturday, Oct. 7.
Following their win versus Northern Michigan last week, the Bulldogs (4-1, 2-0 in conference) picked up where they left off with an explosive offense and a stifling defense that helped them snag another win on the season.
The Bulldogs’ win hands the Cardinals their fourth straight loss on the season (2-4, 0-2 in conference).
Head coach Tony Annese reflected on the match and previous SVSU games, which had resulted in narrower Bulldog wins than on Saturday.
“That’s probably the best played Ferris State versus Saginaw Valley game we’ve had in a while,” Annese said. “We’ve had close games, but I thought that Saginaw really played well. They fought hard, it’s hard to get a team going after three losses in a row.”
The Bulldogs went up early thanks to, what Annese calls, “two bombs to [Xavier Wade],” in which senior quarterback Mylik Mitchell and senior wide-receiver Xavier Wade connected through the air on two touchdown passes to put the Bulldogs up by 14 in the first quarter.
After the two touchdowns, the Bulldogs struggled to get it going due to some good defense by the Cardinals. Saginaw Valley responded after a missed field goal attempt by scoring a touchdown early in the second quarter to cut the Bulldog lead to seven. Following two Bulldog punts, the Cardinals were able to even the game up at 14 with 1:24 left in the half.
The Bulldogs marched down the field, going 82 yards on six plays, to score a third touchdown. Mitchell connected with senior wide-receiver Tyrese Hunt-Thompson on a 40-yard touchdown to take the lead before halftime. With momentum recaptured after the late first half touchdown, the Bulldogs went on to outscore the Cardinals 17-3 in the second half. Following a successful field goal, both Hunt-Thompson and Wade hauled in another touchdown pass late to help secure the 38-17 victory over the Cardinals.
Xavier Wade, who had a hat-trick of touchdowns, thinks that the connection between him and Mitchell is coming together more and more with every game.
“It’s definitely getting better as time goes on,” Wade said. “The first week, I know we were both kind of frustrated that we couldn’t get it to go how we really wanted to or how we had talked about when he first came to Ferris State. But now it’s starting to roll. It’s almost like it’s manifesting right in front of our faces and it’s just exciting.”
Other than a field goal in the third quarter, the Bulldog defense kept the Cardinals at bay and out of the end zone as they began to dominate and get the ball back into the hands of the offense for the Bulldogs.
Senior defensive back Major Dedmond explained the defensive game plan, which shined in the second half..
“In the second half, we just had a good game plan,” Dedmond said. “Just really put pressure on them and then stop the run early. I think we had a great game plan. As you can see, we just let up three points in the second half.”
Ultimately, it was a team effort for the Bulldogs that ended with Ferris State reigning supreme over the Cardinals.
The Bulldogs now set their eyes on a rivalry matchup against Grand Valley State in the Anchor-Bone classic. The Lakers defeated the Bulldogs in last year’s Anchor-Bone classic matchup 22-21, now the Bulldogs look to make things right and enact revenge. Ferris State will hit the road as they travel to Allendale to face the Lakers on Oct. 14 at Lubbers Stadium. Game time is set for 3 p.m.