GVSU football stomps Wayne State 45-27 in road matchup

By Brady McAtamney | 10/8/17 11:37pm

The No. 8 ranked Grand Valley State football team made themselves feel right at home Saturday, Oct. 7, in Detroit, where they defeated the Wayne State Warriors 45-27 to move up to 5-1 (5-0 GLIAC), while WSU fell to 2-4 (1-3 GLIAC).

The win was the first of the Lakers' three-game road stretch, one that GVSU head coach Matt Mitchell was pleased to grab. 

“(The win was) huge. If you’re going to go three-for-three on the road, you have to go one-and-one to start,” Mitchell said.

A victory on the road will always be a source of boosted confidence for any team, but when the win also cements the Lakers as one of two undefeated teams—Ashland University is the other—in the GLIAC, there is room for celebration.

“More than anything, it gets us to 5-0 in the league," Mitchell said. "We have everything right in front of us. I’m proud of this group for coming over after a hard week of practice—especially the offense—and playing really well.”

The Warriors started the game with a statement, creeping their way into Laker territory, but gave the ball up on downs followed by a Laker punt. After a Wayne State drive stalled out, the Warriors prepared to punt, but a botched snap soared over the punter's head and was downed at the Warriors' nine. 

The play gave perfect offensive positioning to the Lakers, as they punched the ball for a touchdown on only two plays. GVSU running back Marty Carter scored from five yards out for the touchdown, giving the Lakers an early 7-0 lead with 12 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

A quick two minutes after Carter's score, the Lakers wound up in Warrior territory where quarterback Bart Williams connected with wide receiver Nick Dodson for a 29-yard touchdown. It was Dodson’s second catch and second touchdown on the season. The Lakers then found themselves up 14-0 with 13:14 left in the second quarter.

In attempt to slow the Lakers' hot start, the Warriors' special teams booted a punt and let it roll all the way back to the GVSU three-yard line. However, the valiant effort by the Warriors didn't matter, as Carter took one hand-off and shot down the field for a school-record 97-yard touchdown run for his second score of the night.

With the team on the brink of a safety, Williams was just thankful to have Carter in his backfield. 

“We’re backed up on the three-yard line, you feel like it’s a big drive and that you’ll have to put some things together, and (Carter) just pops right through there,” Williams said. “Great play call. We had the safety chasing Bean on the motion, and he ripped it right past them. He’s the fastest player on the field.”

A 20-yard field goal from Avery Echols and a Williams' six-yard touchdown pass to Austin Paritee mere seconds before halftime gave the Lakers a commanding 31-0 lead heading into the break.

Not even halftime could slow the Lakers, as a long kickoff return and five offensive plays for 35 yards were capped off in less than two minutes when Williams found tight-end Nick Keizer for a 29-yard strike.

The Lakers' onslaught didn't let up, as Carter would end his night on a bang with a 68-yard touchdown run, his third of the night, with 3:21 left in the third quarter. Carter would finish his night with 11 carries for 218 yards and three scores, good for 19.8 yards per carry.

The successful night for Carter was a promising sight after only rushing the ball four times against Saginaw Valley State due to a knee ailment.

“I’m feeling great; I’m feeling good,” Carter said. “I feel great going into the next game. Offensive line did well today, and everyone came out ready to play, ready to fight. We went to war with each other.”

The Warriors would add three touchdowns in the fourth quarter against GVSU’s second- and third-team defenses to eventually bring the game to its final score of 45-27. 

However, things would get heated between the two teams as time wound down in the fourth quarter.  Two Warriors were ejected, while WSU starting quarterback D.J. Zezula left with an injury.

Williams finished the night 10-13 passing for 142 yards, three touchdowns and no turnovers before giving way to Cole Kotopka, who completed his only pass attempt and ran for 38 yards on four attempts.

Six different Lakers picked up at least 20 yards through the air, but none accrued more than Keizer (38 yards on two catches and a touchdown). Dodson’s and Paritee’s touchdowns were their only catches of the night, while Jalen Bryant (one catch, 24 yards), Brandon Bean (three catches, 23 yards) and Carter (two catches, 22 yards) added to GVSU’s passing numbers.

Linebacker Collin Schlosser led the way defensively with 13 total tackles, while defensive tackles Demetrius Farmer and Michael Pettis and linebacker Garrett Pougnet each collected a quarterback sack.

“I’m glad our guys got experience,” Mitchell said. “I don’t regret anything, other than I should have called a timeout and put our hands team out when I knew they were going to onside it the first time. Our backups got valuable experience. Backups got great experience against their starters, and we’ll go in and watch tape.”

Wayne State controlled the ball for 43:02 of the game and had 30 first downs, while GVSU held possession for only 16:58 and moved the chains only 16 times. The stark contrast between time of possession, first downs and points can be largely chalked up to field position, big plays and style of offense.

For example, the Warriors picked up 197 total rushing yards on 58 carries, good for 3.4 yards per carry. In contrast, the Lakers managed 285 yards on the ground on only 27 attempts, which averages out to 10.6 yards per carry.

With the victory, the Lakers remain undefeated in conference play and are one of two teams without a mark in the loss column (Ashland, 4-0).

The three-game road swing will continue for the Lakers when they travel to Missouri for their second and final non-conference bout with the Truman State Bulldogs (1-5, 1-3) in a mid-afternoon contest.

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