Third place GV and Hillsdale set to face off in Lubbers
Since 2008, only two schools have managed to beat the Grand Valley State University football program on more than one occasion.
One is Ferris State University, who has defeated GVSU the last two years. The other is Hillsdale College, who came out on top in 2009 and 2011.
The Chargers will look to continue the trend of beating GVSU every other year, when they visit Lubbers Stadium this Saturday.
“This will be a big tilt between the two schools and has been some pretty interesting ball games here the past five, six years between the two institutions,” GVSU head coach Matt Mitchell said. “They’re tough, well coached, fundamentally sound, schematically sound, and they’re not going to beat themselves.”
Untraditionally, Hillsdale enters this matchup with one of the worst ground games in the GLIAC. The Chargers are only averaging 120.6 rushing yards per contest, which is third least in the conference.
“They’ve had a lot of injuries at running back, so their running game is probably not as productive as Hillsdale typically has been in the past,” Mitchell said. “They’ve relied a little bit more on their passing game.”
Mitchell and the Lakers defense will be tasked with trying to contain senior quarterback Sam Landry. Landry has completed 59 percent of his passes for 1,875 yards, 14 touchdowns and has thrown just two interceptions.
After watching film, Landry reminded Mitchell of another top quarterback in the GLIAC, Michigan Tech’s Tyler Scarlett.
“This is a very quarterback driven league,” Mitchell said. “I think Sam is probably—if I had to make a comparison—a little bit like Tyler Scarlett. He’s got a strong arm. He’s very accurate. He has a great understanding of their offense… I think he brings an element to run the ball. It’s not Jason Vander Laan running the ball between the tackles. It’s a little bit more him making some plays with his feet kind of like Scarlett can too.”
GVSU will hope to enjoy similar success against Landry as they did with Scarlett.
The Laker defense had its best night of the season against Scarlett, who was unable to develop any sort of rhythm and finished the night completing 17 of 36 passes for 223 yards, as GVSU dominated Michigan Tech in a 49-3 win.
On offense, GVSU will look to continue its success on the ground. The Lakers average 6.1 yards per rush, which is good for second best in the GLIAC.
“Every game we try to establish the run,” senior center Matt Armstrong said. “When you got great running backs—especially one like Mike Ratay—it makes our job a lot easier. If we get things covered up, he’ll make people miss and make us look good.”
With senior running back Chris Robinson (shoulder) and sophomore back Kirk Spencer (hand) dealing with injuries, it’s been junior Michael Ratay who’s had to shoulder the load. So far, it hasn’t been a problem. Ratay’s average of 115 rushing yards a game ranks seventh in the GLIAC.
“I just gotta do whatever the coaches ask me to,” Ratay said.
For the GVSU offense, they’ll be tasked with facing one of the most experienced linebacker corps in the conference.
Senior Brett Pasche leads the Hillsdale defense—and is the leading tackler in the GLIAC—averaging 12.1 stops a game.
“Defensively, they play physical,” Mitchell said. “They have three senior linebackers that have played a lot of reps in this league (and) a lot of snaps against Grand Valley. Brett Pasche—No. 40 for them—might be as good as a linebacker as there is in the GLIAC.”
The game is scheduled to start at 7 p.m. Students are also encouraged to wear black for the “blackout” theme.