GVSU football opens the season with a win
Fast start is the difference in a 38-17 victory over Azusa Pacific
It didn’t take long for the Grand Valley State University football team to get off on the right foot in a season opening 38-17 victory over Azusa Pacific University.
Safety Erik Thompson picked off Azusa’s Dasmen Stewart on the opening possession of the game, allowing the Lakers offense to start their opening drive of the season from the Azusa Pacific 13.
Operating with a short field ahead of him, quarterback Heath Parling proceeded to find sophomore running back Kirk Spencer in the middle of the field for an 11-yard touchdown and the first points of the 2013 season.
Those would be the first of 31 unanswered points the Lakers would score.
“In the first half, I think our defense was really controlling the line of scrimmage and putting pressure on the quarterback and really keeping them off balance, which led to the interception and led to our shorter fields for our offense to work with,” said head coach Matt Mitchell.
Azusa Pacific put together a few drives that went into the GVSU territory, but the Laker defense managed to force three turnovers in the first half and keep the shutout intact, despite allowing 111 rushing yards. The Lakers went into halftime with a 24-0 lead.
Similar to the first half, GVSU wasted no time as they began the second half of the game.
Senior Reggie Williams returned the opening kickoff 83 yards, setting up the GVSU offense to start their drive from the Azusa Pacific 17 yard line.
With the short field, senior running back Chris Robinson eventually scored from two yards out, giving the Lakers a 31-0 advantage.
However, Azusa Pacific wouldn’t pack it in, and managed to score the next 17 points of the game.
“They started hitting us with a few things in the third quarter in the run game and we didn’t do a great job of adjusting to some of the things they were doing in the run game,” Mitchell said. “To be honest with you, I feel that after we ripped the kickoff return in the third quarter that there might have been a little bit of a letdown. We didn’t approach things as good as we could have approached things in the third quarter.”
Junior running back Michael Ratay would eventually break the game open on a 73-yard touchdown run and give GVSU a 38-17 lead. Ratay’s run is tied for the 14th longest in school history.
Ratay was the leading rusher for the Lakers and tallied 112 yards on 10 attempts and two touchdowns. Parling finished the game 14-of-24 with 177 yards, an interception, and two touchdowns, both of which went to Spencer.
The Lakers tallied 360 yards of total offense, but committed three turnovers and allowed Azusa to amass 196 yards on the ground.
“Always feel good at Grand Valley when you get wins and I’m happy about the win,” Mitchell said. “It’s a 21 point win, but at the same time, I don’t feel that we performed as well as we could have in certain areas.”