Lakers crush Northwood Timberwolves to win third straight game

By Brady McAtamney | 9/24/17 9:48pm


Lakers' wide receiver Brandon Bean catches a pass from quarterback Bart Williams for 35 yards in the second quarter of the game against Northwood Saturday, Sept. 23. The Lakers beat the Timberwolves 49-0 to clinch their third straight win.

The Grand Valley State football squad did not disappoint in its game against Northwood Saturday, Sept. 23, as part of GVSU's annual Family Weekend.

The No. 12 Lakers dismantled the Timberwolves 49-0 to move up to 3-1 (3-0 GLIAC), while knocking NU to 2-2 (0-2 GLIAC). The victory marked the second straight shutout at Lubbers Stadium for the Lakers. The zeroes sandwiched a separate blowout (42-7 at Michigan Tech), marking a three-game stretch where GVSU has outscored opponents by 132 points.

“Great job by our team,” said head coach Matt Mitchell. “Felt like in the first half we were winning the game more than 14-0. We fumbled down in the red zone once and had a couple of miscues; we couldn’t quite capitalize. We made some adjustments at halftime, and they brought more pressure, and I thought we came out in the third quarter and we got it to a point where with their offense they weren’t really going to come back.

“I told the team before the game, 10 teams in the GLIAC, at the end of the day there would probably be three. If we took care of business, we would be undefeated (in conference). We’re one of three right now that’s undefeated in the GLIAC.”

Once again, things started slowly for GVSU as it took until there were three minutes left in the first quarter for the team to find its first score when running back Bryce Young-Walls powered his way through the Timberwolves' defense for a nine-yard score. The Lakers would only score once more in the first half when quarterback Bart Williams connected with wide receiver Brandon Bean for four yards and six points.

GVSU quarterback Bart Williams throws a pass during the game against Northwood Saturday, Sept. 23. The Lakers would go on to defeat the Timberwolves 49-0.

The Lakers only led 14-0 at halftime. Once they re-emerged from the locker room, though, things took off.

GVSU found pay dirt four times in the third quarter, highlighted by a 70-yard scamper by running back Marty Carter, two Williams passes (to tight end Nick Keizer and wide receiver Urston Smith) and another touchdown from Young-Walls.

While things were winding down in the final quarter, GVSU running back Caleb Richard pounded his way for his second touchdown of the season, bringing the game to its final score.

Admist the trouncing, Williams threw for 288 yards to move him into third place in all-time school history with 8,515 career passing yards.

“It feels good. It's one of those things, though, that you look at when you're all done,” Williams said. “Looking back, it'll probably be a good feeling, but right now, it's about winning ball games.” 

Meanwhile, Bean continued to pace the team in receptions as he hauled in eight passes for 126 yards and a score.

Additionally, Carter picked up 153 yards on the ground to put him in fourth place in school history with 3,290 career rushing yards.

Carter took 17 carries for 153 yards and a touchdown, highlighted by his season-long 70-yard score in the third quarter. Young-Walls added 62 yards of his own to go with his two touchdowns.

An area of controversy in the first two games this season once again showed signs of settling as kicker Avery Echols converted on all his extra point opportunities—seven for seven—after making all six of his attempts the previous week.

“(The kicking) was good tonight," Mitchell said. "I'll be honest, in practice it was not good. I don't think we've gotten that figured out. I had to head out to pregame warmups to see who was striking it the best, and I kind of felt with Avery's performance last week, to go with him again. But we need to get someone who will solidify that job, meaning everyone has confidence in him. I know we haven't missed a kick in the past few games, but there's still work to do. In practice it hasn't been where it needs to be.” 

Overall, the Lakers outgained Northwood 594 total yards to 196, marking the second time this season the Lakers have held an opposing offense to under 200 yards (Davenport, 121). GVSU’s top-ranked pass defense held the Timberwolves, who were without starting quarterback Joe Garbarino, to 2-12 passing for only 28 yards and one interception.

“I thought the scheme was good. I spent more time with defense this week in game planning, so I thought the scheme was good,” Mitchell said. “I thought we had the right people in the right positions. We knew there was going to be a lot of pressure on Studdard, especially with the Jailyn Harden suspension (from targeting against Michigan Tech), in the first half that Jake (Studdard) was going to have to be out there a lot. He did a great job.

“To be honest, once we came out in pregame warmups and saw that their starting quarterback wasn't in uniform, we knew that was going to build more struggles for them.”

Grant Dunatchik, who started the game at quarterback, completed the two aforementioned passes but also threw an interception to Studdard and watched as his teammate fumbled a ball eventually recovered by GVSU’s DeMario Johnson on their otherwise promising opening drive of the game.

The Laker defense swarms a Northwood player for a tackle Saturday, Sept. 23. The Lakers would go on to beat the Timberwolves 49-0.

To put the two completions for 28 yards into perspective, NU also punted a total of nine times for a combined 382 yards.

“We just push ourselves,” Studdard said. “I never feel like we reach our keys, and we feel like we can do always better. We do push each other to compete. It boosts the confidence. We did a great job on the defensive side of the ball today. We got sacks, we got pass breakups, we got an interception, a lot of tackles. We did well, but we can do better.”

The Lakers will now move forward for the long-standing tradition of Battle of the Valleys as they prepare to host rival Saginaw Valley State (2-2, 0-2 GLIAC) Saturday, Sep. 30, at 7 p.m.

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