GVSU falters late in loss at rival Saginaw Valley State
GVL / Robert Mathews
Senior Charles Johnson (4)
It didn’t take long for Jonathon Jennings and Saginaw Valley State University to show they were ready to play for a piece of the GLIAC North division title.
It did take Charles Johnson and Grand Valley State University until the second half, but even a 45-point half wasn’t enough to carry the Lakers to a win.
While GVSU (8-3, 7-3 GLIAC) spotted the Cardinals (8-3, 7-3 GLIAC) a 28-point lead in the first half, the team eventually took a 52-48 lead late in the fourth quarter on a Mike Ratay touchdown run.
But the defense could not hold as Saginaw Valley State put together a seven-play, 54-second drive culminating in a Jennings touchdown to Jeff Janis, handing the Lakers a heartbreaking, 55-52 defeat.
Johnson and the GVSU offense woke up in the second half after sleepwalking through the first. Quarterback Isiah Grimes, who threw two interceptions in the first half, paired with Johnson to key the GVSU run.
Grimes finished the game 21-of-37 for 371 yards and four touchdowns, all of which went to Johnson.
The senior receiver, playing what is likely his final game at GVSU, went out in monstrous fashion. Johnson caught 10 passes for 198 yards, out-dueling his Saginaw Valley State counter part Janis.
However, it was Janis and the Cardinals who got the last laugh. Along with the game-winning score, Janis caught 10 passes for 165 yards and another score, along with a rushing touchdown in the first quarter.
Jennings and the Saginaw Valley State offense could not be contained in the first half, as the junior scored touchdowns throwing, running and receiving.
The second half proved different as the GVSU defense mounted an almost-improbable effort in the near-comeback. Despite playing without starters at safety and corner back, the Lakers could not contain the Jennings-Janis duo when it needed to late.
The loss effectively eliminates the Lakers from NCAA Division II playoff contention and ends their season with a loss to Saginaw Valley State for the first time since 2004.