GVSU defeats SVSU 62-56 in double overtime
The Lakers clinched their first outright GLIAC title since 2010
Tied 56-56 in double overtime, Battle of the Valleys 2016 came down to one final play.
Grand Valley State defensive tackle Mark Rosenquist stuffed Saginaw Valley State running back Tommy Scott Jr. on third-and-one from the 16-yard line, and the Cardinals originally sent out their field goal unit on fourth down to try and take a three point lead.
But the Cardinals forgot to send out a holder for the field goal, and they called a timeout—during which, they decided to try and make the first down conversion, needing just one yard to keep their offense on the field.
Cardinal quarterback Ryan Conklin snapped the ball, gave it to Scott Jr. up the middle, who was met by Rosenquist again. No gain on the play, turnover on downs.
Six running plays later, GVSU running back Martayveus Carter was in the end zone on a two-yard touchdown run.
That sealed a 62-56 double overtime win for the Lakers in the 2016 Battle of the Valleys in Saginaw, Michigan Saturday, Nov. 5. It was the Lakers' first overtime win since a 9-6 win over University of California-Davis Sept. 6, 2003.
The win also gave GVSU its first outright GLIAC championship since 2010, as every other team in the conference has at least two losses with only one week left in the regular season.
“A lot of heart, a lot of grit, a lot of team chemistry, a lot of togetherness,” said GVSU coach Matt Mitchell. “I’m really proud of our senior class. They’ve been leading this thing the entire way. They’re doing great academically, great people, that championship is a credit to their commitment to our program."
The win and conference championship almost guarantees that GVSU stays the top seed in Super Region Four heading into the postseason. The Lakers play Wayne State next Saturday, Nov. 12 in the final regular season game. Should they win, the Lakers—the only undefeated team left in the region—will stay atop the region and receive a first-round bye in the NCAA playoffs.
Postseason implications aside, the only thing the Lakers were worried about after their win over SVSU was celebrating the wildest game in recent memory.
“As a senior class, we really talked about this, we wanted to just show out in our last Battle of the Valleys,” said senior nickelback Marquez Gollman, who finished with seven tackles and an interception returned for a touchdown. “We came together as one team, and come out with the victory.”
Not only were the Lakers fighting for the senior class, but receiver Urston Smith returned to the field for the first time since his mother passed away last week. Smith missed practice and the Findlay game Saturday, Oct. 29.
He said he knows his mother was watching him against the Cardinals.
“I was really excited to get back on the field,” Smith said. “My mom was looking over us. That’s what she wanted me to do—go out and play my hardest and do my thing. I did it all for her and my teammates, and they know that. They got my back, and I got their back as well.”
Smith led the Lakers with six receptions for 162 yards and two touchdowns.
Before the overtime period, the score was deadlocked at 42-42 with a little over 10 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. The GVSU offense took the field and went on a 17-play, 73-yard drive without completing a single pass—the Lakers didn’t even attempt to throw on the drive.
Bart Williams had a rocky day behind center, finishing 13-of-20 for 314 yards, five touchdowns, four interceptions and three sacks. The decision to not pass the ball on the drive was made not only because the offense had struggled to do so all game, but senior receiver Matt Williams and junior receiver Brandon Bean both left the game with injuries.
So, the Lakers pounded running backs Carter and senior Terrell Dorsey on a drive that took 8:37 off the clock. There wasn’t a single rush of over eight yards during the possession, as the Lakers methodically worked their way up field, ending the drive with a five-yard touchdown by Carter.
The drive left the Cardinals only 1:39 on the clock to try and tie the game.
The Cardinals broke off a 13-play, 75-yard drive that ended in a 10-yard Conklin touchdown pass to receiver Marq Johnson, tying the game with just six seconds remaining.
“We give up the score, and that’s deflating,” Mitchell said. “I’ll tell you, I don’t know if I’ve ever been around a game that had that many ebbs and flows in it.”
Enter overtime, and the Lakers had the ball first after the Cardinals won the coin toss and deferred. The Lakers scored in four plays off two rushes by Carter and then two runs by Dorsey, a 15-yard run that set up a one-yard score at the goal line.
Needing a touchdown to keep the game going, Conklin delivered again, tossing a 24-yard touchdown in the corner of the end zone to receiver Alfonso Vultaggio on just the second play of the drive.
SVSU’s first possession in the second overtime was ended by Rosenquist’s stop on fourth down, and would prove to be the last time the Cardinal offense was out on the field.
“Everybody executed well,” Rosenquist said of the third and fourth down stop in the second overtime. “Everybody was 11-as-one, we came in and stopped them, did our job.”
The defensive stop was one of many instances where the defense picked up the offense, and the offense picked up the defense.
In the third quarter, Bart Williams threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown to make the score 34-28. On the next GVSU possession, Williams was again picked off, and the ball was returned inside the five-yard line, giving the Cardinals an opportunity to take a two-score lead.
However, GVSU safety Donte Carey picked off Cardinal running back David Nay on a trick play a few plays later and got the ball out to midfield on the return. The offense scored on the ensuing possession to regain the lead.
It was plays like this and the Rosenquist stop that allowed the Lakers to stay in the game.
“Everybody was just playing hard and playing for each other,” Bart Williams said. “One guy has a couple bad plays, it’s not time to shell up. We had their back in overtime, then they have our back by getting the stop we needed. It’s just back-and-forth everybody was playing for each other.”
On the final offensive possession of overtime after the big defensive stop, the Lakers originally planned to run on first and second down and then let senior Joel Schipper attempt the game-winning field goal when they got inside the 20-yard line.
But, with how dominant the Lakers had been at the line of scrimmage against the Cardinal front-seven, GVSU again rode on the backs of Carter and Dorsey. Carter got the first down on a third-and-five from the nine-yard line on a seven-yard rush, and scored the game-winner on first-and-goal a play later. The Laker offense ended the game on 27 consecutive running plays, all by Carter and Dorsey.
Carter finished with 200 yards on 34 carries with two touchdowns, and Dorsey had 74 yards on 12 carries with one touchdown.
“When it comes down to times like this and you’re wearing your body out, you’ve got to keep that mentality to fight through it,” Carter said. “I give it up to the coaches for the conditioning, because the conditioning really came through and played a really big part of this game.”
Heading into the postseason, Carter said the No. 2 ranked Lakers showed against the Cardinals they have what it takes to be a championship-contending team.
“We got a lot of grit,” Carter said. “We got a lot of fight in us. Once we’re down, we know we’re not really down, we can come back and win in any point in time in the game. We know we can put that fight into us, keep our heads up and stay strong.”