GVSU football crushes Davenport in first home game
GVL / Emily Frye - Defensive back Eric Plate celebrates GVSU's first touchdown of the game with his teammates Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017. Plate blocked Davenport's punt, allowing Luke DeLong to recover the ball in the end zone for a Laker touchdown.
After a seemingly surprising upset loss to Indianapolis last weekend, the No. 14 ranked Grand Valley State football team didn't want to let their fans down again-- especially in front of their own fans.
"We emphasized all week (in practice) that it's all about us and Grand Valley football," said wide receiver Brandon Bean. "Guys were running around practice with their heads on fire to really get after it."
The Lakers didn't disappoint, as they defeated the Davenport University Panthers 48-0 in their season home opener at Lubbers Stadium in Allendale, Michigan Saturday, September 8.
It was the first matchup ever between the two programs and was seen in front of the second-largest crowd in GVSU history. The Lakers move to 1-1 (1-0 GLIAC) for the year, while Davenport drops to 0-2 (0-1 GLIAC).
The Laker defense held DU to a mere 121 yards of total offense and five first downs, while forcing 10 punts. Meanwhile, GVSU racked up 423 total yards and scored more touchdowns than Davenport's number of first downs.
“You look at the things that they did tonight, the plays that they ran and stuff—it was very similar to the stuff that we saw last week that was ripping for a lot of yards," said GVSU linebacker Collin Schlosser. "Being able to make those adjustments and come back and execute at a high level this week; it’s big time for our defense and team. We came out with a big win, and we go from last week where we gave up 300-something rushing yards to this week probably giving up under 100.”
Quarterback Bart Williams connected on 17 of his 25 pass attempts for 187 yards and two scores before taking a seat for the rest of the game. Receiver Brandon Bean led both teams with eight catches for 75 yards and a touchdown reception.
The connections from Williams to Bean established themselves as a very productive duo according to Williams.
"When the ball is in the air, (Bean) can just go out there and get it," Williams said. "We've developed a lot of chemistry throughout fall camp. Now with a couple of guys injured, he knows he has to step up and he's embraced that role of wanting the ball.
"I'll go to war with that guy."
Things started slowly in the first half, as it took the Lakers until the 1:22 mark in the first quarter to score their first points of the game, which came on a punt blocked by Eric Plate and recovered by Luke DeLong in the end zone.
GVSU wouldn’t score again until 5:32 left in the half when Williams connected with tight end Pete Cender for a 15-yard strike, but a missed extra point would leave the score at 13-0 into the half.
After managing only 151 yards and a single offensive score in the first half, the Laker offense kicked into high gear out of the break with three scores and 144 yards in the third quarter alone. Two touchdown rushes from Marty Carter (along with 76 total yards in the quarter) and a reception from Williams to Bean ballooned the score up to 34-0. GVSU’s defense helped the team’s cause by forcing two turnovers in the quarter.
GVSU head coach Matt Mitchell believes the biggest difference of the two halves was the ability to dominate the ground.
“We didn’t run it really well in the first half, but we got the run game going in the second half,” Mitchell said. “We're still pathetic on third downs, but I think the difference in the second half was we were able to stay out of third downs. We kept the chains moving and we found some runs.
"I felt like the strength of their team was their defensive line, and things schematically started to work out; they leaned on them, and I think they started to get tired, and I think that was the key in the third and fourth quarter.”
The second unit kept things going in the fourth quarter, as the starters got off their feet, kicking things off with a five-play drive that went 60 yards and ended with Bryce Young-Walls going 14 yards untouched into the end zone to bring the lead to 41. Caleb Richard continued the theme of backs finding pay dirt when he took a handoff from Cole Kotopka (on the heels of his 36-yard keeper) 12 yards, bringing the score to 48-0.
“It’s fun watching the guys go out there and do their thing," Carter said. "It’s a free day. It’s like we’re out at recess. We get a chance to show out.
"It’s a trio (Carter, Richards and Young-Walls). All three of us scored, so we called it a ‘Trecie Acie.'"
Carter took his 16 carries for 106 yards and two scores, propelling himself past Kirk Spencer for fifth in GVSU history with 2,960 career rushing yards.
The large crowd certainly played a role in the victory, as players and coaches certainly notice when their Laker faithful are making noise, and that was no different on this opening night.
“The students were awesome,” Mitchell said. “The student section and the hill were filling in, we had great weather and it’s always great to get that support, especially (after the loss last week). For people to come out and do that, it’s huge.”
While running out of the tunnel, the team was greeted with 'Laker blue' smoke -- which startled the team and wide receiver Bean.
"I was right next to it, and I immediately started coughing at first," Bean said. "It was kind've a panic moment, but then I looked around and realized it was actually really hype.
"It's just GV always going bigger and better."
The Lakers’ conference slate continues Saturday, Sept. 16, when they take on the Michigan Tech Huskies (1-1) in the Upper Peninsula.