Bulldogs sink Lakers: GVSU football drops Anchor-Bone Classic by single point

By Brady McAtamney | 10/22/17 10:57pm

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Grand Valley State quarterback Bart Williams drops back to pass from the Ferris State 3-yard line. He scans the field and quickly locates his tight end Nick Keizer and lobs his target a pass above the defense. Keizer leaps and brings the ball in for a go-ahead touchdown with only 2:30 left in the game.

However, the ensuing extra point would be blocked, leaving the Lakers with only a 6-point lead instead of a far more comfortable 7.

The Bulldogs would drive down the field and win the game when quarterback Reggie Bell used his battered legs to score from 2 yards out with only 15 seconds on the clock. The time remaining would not be enough for Williams and the rest of the Lakers to get into position for any more points, and a last-ditch series of laterals would fall short.

“I told them in the locker room I was proud of the way they competed,” said head coach Matt Mitchell. “I’m not looking past Northern Michigan, but we still have a chance to win the GLIAC championship. We’re just going to have to get over this.”

In the end, the Lakers fell to the rival Bulldogs in Big Rapids, Michigan, Saturday, Oct. 21, by a score of 28-27 in the Anchor-Bone Classic. It was the first conference loss of the season for GVSU, knocking them to 6-2 (5-1 GLIAC), while FSU improved to 6-1 (5-1 GLIAC).

Things started hot for GVSU as they found the end zone after only four plays in the opening drive of the game, capitalized upon by running back Marty Carter with a 3-yard run.

After the Bulldogs' field goal late in the first quarter, the Lakers would not score again until wide receiver Austin Paritee’s highlight catch in the far front corner of the end zone from 25 yards out from Williams to give GVSU a 14-3 lead into halftime.

“We have players that can win in those one-on-one matchups, and those are the kind of guys we try to recruit and put on the field,” Williams said of his receivers. “When it’s our guy versus a defensive player one on one, we believe our guys have the advantage.”

The tide shifted out of the break, though, when FSU knocked in a 25-yard field goal on their first drive after halftime. After the score, they kicked off into the wind, which seemed to knock the ball down considerably in the air, causing it to drop between several Lakers and bounce straight at a group of FSU gunners who snagged the ball and gained possession deep into GVSU territory.

FSU would capitalize on the opportunity with a 9-yard run by Reggie Bell, making it a 1-point game at 14-13.

A 16-yard Brandon Bean touchdown reception gave the Lakers a 21-13 cushion late in the third quarter before FSU’s Jevon Shaw punched his way into the end zone from 2 yards out, which gave way to a successful 2-point conversion, tying the game at 21 with 4:50 left in the game.

The story from there includes a blocked extra point and dramatic final-second score to seal the victory for the Bulldogs.

“Collectively, we obviously didn’t play a perfect game, but there’s no pointing fingers,” Bean said. “Now it’s time to head back to the lab and focus on next week. (Rebounding from the loss is) about reloading. There’s no time to hang our heads.

“Everything is still wide open and nothing is set in stone. Everything we wanted to accomplish before the season, we can still get it done. What’s so special about this team is that everybody knows what our mission is to have everyone motivated towards one goal.”

Bean finished with 10 catches for 167 yards and a touchdown, which were game highs for both teams. Williams hit 22 of his 39 passes for 287 yards and three touchdowns while Carter shouldered the entire run game for the Lakers as his backfield partner Bryce Young-Walls missed the game with a sprained ankle.

Carter took 27 carries for 139 yards and one touchdown and had four catches to go along with his ground work. During his strong day, Carter broke the GVSU record for most career rushing yards, passing James Berezik with 3,742.

On defense, linebacker Collin Schlosser paced the Lakers with 12 total tackles, including two tackles for loss and a sack. Garrett Pougnet added seven tackles and a fumble recovery.

One major factor that played a role in the outcome of the game was penalties. GVSU was flagged 11 times for 93 yards, while FSU was only flagged twice for 15. Many of the Lakers’ penalties came as unforced personal fouls after the whistle, giving the Bulldogs unnecessary additional yards.

“The intensity of the rivalry got to us in the beginning of the game and put our team in some bad positions,” Mitchell said. “I thought the score should’ve been greater than 14-3 after halftime.”

Despite winning the turnover battle and holding the Bulldogs to 5 of 16 on third downs and 0 of 5 on fourth, the Lakers were still unable to come out on top.

“You can look at the last drive or the last couple of drives, but offensively we had chances in the first half,” Williams said. “We missed Dodson for one or two touchdown opportunities. Offensively and personally, I know I could’ve played better. This game came down to one-on-one matchups. We just really didn’t get that explosive play from our offense.”

With the loss, the Lakers are still in position to compete for the conference championship as well as a postseason spot. GVSU sits tied for second place in the GLIAC with FSU, while Ashland University is the lone undefeated team left.

If the Lakers manage to take care of business at home against a struggling Northern Michigan University team and Tiffin University, while pulling themselves together and beating Ashland on the road, their season is far from over.

“We like to go out there with excitement because if you go out there with a defeated attitude, it’s probably not going to go well out there,” Schlosser said. “We look at it as a challenge any time there’s a sudden change opportunities. We still control our own destiny. We’ve just got to go watch the film and get back to work.”

GVSU will hit the gridiron again Saturday, Oct. 28, when the Northern Michigan Wildcats (1-6, 1-5 GLIAC) come to town to help the Lakers celebrate Homecoming at Lubbers Stadium. Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m., and the game can be streamed on ESPN3.com or heard on ESPN radio 96.1.

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