Ware, Grimes lead GVSU to homecoming win over Northwood
As Northwood University tailback Jordan Jonker sprinted through the Grand Valley State University defense for a 17-yard touchdown early in the first quarter, it seemed like a case of different week, same story.
Then a maligned and injury-plagued defense found its way, and an offense returning its starting quarterback began to click.
That’s when things got fun for the Lakers (6-2, 5-2 GLIAC) as the team overpowered Northwood (4-4, 3-4 GLIAC) at homecoming, 42-28.
“(Friday), we sat in the meeting room and we all talked together and we felt like we had to come in this game and have fun actually, and play with a lot of energy,” said junior linebacker Luther Ware, who collected a team-high 11 tackles. “These last two weeks we haven’t been having fun.”
Ware and the defense contained a Northwood offense playing without its top rushers in quarterback Aaron Shavers (injury) and fullback Cameron Jackson (suspension).
Part of that success was the play of the GVSU front seven, which met many of the Northwood option-run plays in the backfield — having a trio of starters back helped, too.
Defensive ends Matt Judon and Ryan Pettis provided a boost on the defensive line, while the return of Sam Power gave the linebacking core another body to throw at the Northwood offense.
“It seemed to me on the sideline that we were getting more penetration, more push,” said head coach Matt Mitchell. “It doesn’t matter who hands the ball off, when you’re getting that kind of push and stopping the run, still credit to some of our guys up front. I still thought our defense rose to the occasion.”
The Lakers held the Timberwolves to just 176 yards on the ground, 54 yards under its season average. The team also allowed just the first completed pass against Northwood — a one-yard touchdown toss late in the second quarter — since 2010.
The defense did lose a big piece in the second quarter. After fielding a punt, cornerback Reggie Williams crumbled to the ground and had to be carried of the field. The extent of the junior’s injury is still unknown.
While the defense did its best to contain the GLIAC’s No. 2 rushing offense, the offense had to deal with one of the top rushing defenses, but it didn’t seem to be much of a deterrent.
Freshman tailback Kirk Spencer ran for 129 yards, while junior Hersey Jackson ran for 68 yards and two touchdowns in his second game of the season.
The backfield duo did turn the ball over three times, two of which came on Spencer fumbles.
Quarterback Isiah Grimes returned from an injury in style after not practicing all week, throwing for 301 yards and four touchdowns, including a pair to senior receiver Charles Johnson.
“I was just in treatment all week, trying to get better and everything,” Grimes said. “I felt good. Throwing during warm-ups probably hurt a little more than throwing in the game because in the game I didn’t have a lot of time to think about the pain, I was just caught up in the moment throwing the ball where it had to be.”
It wasn’t just the offense and defense that starred, even the special teams gave the Lakers a boost. Late in the first quarter, senior receiver Israel Woolfork blocked a Northwood punt, then had the wherewithal to chase down the punter short of the first down, a play Mitchell applauded after the game.
The team now faces a road game at first-place Hillsdale, one that Mitchell called an incredible challenge. While the on-field production was there Saturday, Ware hinted that the Lakers’ confidence was back, too.
“The way we played (Saturday), we should be able to do this every week — we know we can do it — so why not come back next week and do it again,” Ware said. “Coach put us in great positions, we had a good practice this week, the calls were good and people were running fast.”
Hillsdale College took out Saginaw Valley State University, 34-17, on Saturday. With that win, the Chargers took control of the GLIAC North with just one conference loss. GVSU’s win combined with Saginaw Valley State’s loss creates a three-way tie for second place with Saginaw Valley State, Michigan Technological University and Wayne State University with two conference losses.
Already with a win over Michigan Tech and still having games against Wayne State, Saginaw Valley State and Hillsdale ahead of them, GVSU essentially controls its own fate the rest of the way — starting with next week’s game at Hillsdale.
Pictures of the Year 2012-2013
6:30 pm | Broadway Theatre - Anything Goes
7:30 am | GVSU Downtown Toastmasters
11:00 am | GVSU Track & Field at NCAA Championships
5:30 pm | MBA Information Meeting: Holland
7:00 pm | Failure Lab
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