Anchor-Bone Classic: Part II preview
The Lakers host Ferris State in the NCAA semifinal round in a rematch between GLIAC heavyweights
Grand Valley State coach Matt Mitchell called the Ohio State-Michigan game one of the marquee games in the state last Saturday, Nov. 26.
This week, he said the marquee game can be found right here in Allendale.
“This is probably one of the premier college football games in the state, if not thee football game in the state this weekend,” Mitchell said.
The Lakers (12-0) will face off against rival Ferris State (11-2) this Saturday, Dec. 3 in the NCAA Division II Quarterfinal at Lubbers Stadium. It is the only No. 1 versus No. 2 seed match-up in the entire playoff bracket.
The last time both teams met was Saturday, Oct. 8, a 35-23 win over the Bulldogs that saw the Lakers hold off a second-half rally after being up 28-6 at halftime. The Lubbers Stadium attendance record was also broken at that game (16,889).
GVSU President Thomas Haas is hoping just as many fans—if not more—come out for one of the Lakers’ biggest games of the season.
“I’ll challenge the students,” Haas said. “We played Ferris (Oct. 8), and in the third quarter, the student fans left. We lost a little momentum, and you could feel it—Ferris could as well. I’m hopeful we see our students stay there until the last whistle of the game in the fourth quarter, with a ‘W’ for Grand Valley.
“Our students can provide that ‘12th man,’ and we see it every time. When the students get into the game, it’s fabulous.”
As another incentive for student turnout, GVSU announced students who attend the game will have a chance at $1,000 cash. Students will receive tickets upon entry to the game, and the winner will be announced near the end of the fourth quarter. The winner must be present to claim the prize.
Kickoff is set for 1 p.m., and the game will be streamed live at www.watchespn.com.
The Lakers might not need sophomore running back and 2016 Harlon Hill award finalist Martayveus Carter to do his best quarterback impression this Saturday—he threw a 32-yard touchdown pass to receiver Nick Dodson in the first quarter of the first game against FSU—but they will need him to do just about everything else.
Carter carried the ball 33 times for 217 yards and a touchdown in GVSU's 55-32 win over the Texas A&M Commerce Lions in the second round last Saturday. Mitchell also praised the production from relief back Terrell Dorsey, who took pressure off Carter and had a respectable 71 yards on 17 carries with two touchdowns.
The Lakers had 36:30 to 23:30 in time of possession over the Lions, and will undoubtedly try and control the clock against the Bulldogs with the tandem of Carter and Dorsey.
"Marty's very competitive," said GVSU quarterback Bart Williams. "He wants the ball. You've seen all season what he can do in the back end of the defense. It's good to have him on our side and hopefully we can get him out in space."
Williams had an up-and-down day against the Bulldogs the last time out. He went 14-of-24 for 200 yards, one touchdown, three interceptions and five sacks. The offensive line has come a long way this season, but has its work cut out for them against a defense that ranks second in the GLIAC in total sacks (35), and are led by defensive end Zach Seiler (15 sacks). GVSU is first with 39.
Williams is more confident in his offensive line’s ability to keep a clean pocket this time around, though he was sacked three times against A&M Commerce.
“I feel pretty good,” Williams said. “The guys up front, they’ve gotten much better throughout the whole season. It comes down again to one-on-one match-ups on the outside or in the trenches. It think our guys take that personally, and take a lot of pride in keeping me clean.”
On the other side of the ball, it is unclear who will be under center for the Bulldogs.
The electric Reggie Bell, who gashed the Lakers for 478 yards of offense by himself in their last outing, played sparingly in his team’s first round win over Midwestern State Saturday, Nov. 19, and didn’t play at all in their second-round win over Colorado Mines Saturday, Nov. 26.
If Bell is unable to go, the Bulldogs will turn to senior Trevor Bermingham, the longtime backup to FSU great Jason Vander Laan. Though not as shifty as Bell, Bermingham has proven himself to be an effective weapon.
In the win over Colorado Mines, Bermingham lit up the defense on 19-of-30 passing for 392 yards and two touchdowns. On the ground, he had 20 carries for 44 yards and three touchdowns. Bermingham has been used in the offense all season and has 14 rushing touchdowns in total.
The Lanthorn reached out to FSU athletics for comment on the quarterback situation, but FSU coach Tony Annese is declining all print interviews this week, according to FSU Sports Information director Rob Bentley. Annese did do some television interviews and provided a general statement on the rivalry.
In any case, the GVSU defense will be ready for whoever takes snaps for the Bulldogs on Saturday.
“We’re just going to be ready for whichever one we see,” said GVSU middle linebacker David Talley. “Bermingham or Reggie Bell, they’re both great players, but we’re just going to prepare for both of them.”
Though Bell is lauded as the former Division I player from Eastern Michigan and the No. 1 guy for the Bulldogs, Talley said Bermingham’s style sometimes makes him the more ideal option for FSU.
“I feel personally that Bell is a little more athletic than him, but Bermingham can run the offense a little better because he’s been with Annese for five years now, so he definitely has an advantage in that way,” Talley said. “He’s more of a safe option, if that makes sense.”
What has to happen
GVSU has to control the ball with Carter and the ground game, and force Bermingham—given he starts on Saturday—to make mistakes, just as they did to Bell, who threw two interceptions and fumbled the ball in their last meeting. Williams will need to protect the ball against the team with the most interceptions in the GLIAC (20).
On the flip side, Bermingham will need to give the Bulldogs nine innings Saturday if they intend to knock off the No. 1 seed in Super Region Four. If Bell is even capable of playing a limited role for the Bulldogs, that would add another wrinkle to the offense as well. The Bulldogs’ defense forced Williams into turnovers before, and they’ll need to do it again to get an advantage in a hostile road environment. By no means can they allow Carter to hit on consistent runs and control the tempo.
The winning team will advance to the NCAA Semifinal versus the winner of No. 1 seed North Alabama and No. 6 seed North Greenville. The final four teams in the semifinal round are reseeded, and the top two seeds host. Seeding is determined by strength of schedule and a school’s ability to host ESPN broadcasting services.