In their final road game of the regular season, Ferris State football defeated Davenport University on Saturday, Nov. 4.
In a game with massive playoff implications, the Bulldogs(7-2, 4-1 in GLIAC) kept their hopes alive with a 28-10 win against the Panthers(8-1, 4-1 in GLIAC). The win continues the Bulldogs’ eight game winning streak against the Panthers since they joined the GLIAC in 2017, while also ending the Panthers’ undefeated season.
Head Coach Tony Annese believed the victory to be much more than a regular season win.
“This was a playoff game, the winner has a good chance to make the playoffs and the loser doesn’t have that great of a chance,” Annese said. “We’ve only played nine games, so beating the teams with a winning record is crucial.”
Annese also praised Davenport’s head coach Sparky McEwen, saying that he is a “superb defensive coach.”
In the battle of two top-ten teams, Davenport started off strong, scoring in the second quarter off a Ferris fumble. The Bulldogs roared back with a lengthy, 90-yard drive finished off by a three-yard touchdown run from sophomore quarterback Trinidad Chambliss. The half ended on a Davenport field goal giving the Cougars a 10-7 advantage at halftime.
Coming out of the break, senior defensive-back Shon Stephens returned the kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, electrifying the Ferris sideline and giving them a 14-10 lead. With the next Ferris possession, sophomore quarterback Carson Gulker topped off an 84-yard drive with a 10-yard throw to senior wide-receiver Xavier Wade. To finish the game, Stephens intercepted a pass and returned it 15 yards for a touchdown.
Gulker believed that the Bulldogs learned from their mistakes.
“I think that in the first half, we kind of shot ourselves in the foot a little bit with penalties and just not being smart,” Gulker said. “We came out in the second half much more under control and we took over the game.”
Gulker also thought the “fast-tempo” was a huge reason for the second half dominance.
The win over Davenport marked Ferris State football’s 500th win all-time and Annese’s 122nd win. Since Annese was hired back in 2012, the Bulldogs have won 85% of their games.
Stephens’ kickoff return touchdown gave the Bulldogs a second half jolt while his interception-return TD sealed the game for the team. The importance of the plays was not lost on Stephens.
“Special teams and defense wins games so just being able to play multiple positions and score is a blessing,” Stephens said. “Coach puts us in great positions continuously, I play as hard as I can in those spots and the ball ended up in my hands.”
Stephens’ interception puts him at seven on the season, which ties him for second place in all of NCAA DII football.
The Bulldogs return home to host the Wayne State Warriors on Saturday, Nov. 11 at Top Taggart Field for their regular season finale.