GVSU football dominates rival SVSU 34-6 in Battle of the Valleys contest
GV football dominates rival SVSU 34-6 in Battle of the Valleys contest
Another year, another Battle of the Valleys victory on the gridiron for the Grand Valley State Lakers.
With a final score of 34-6 on a brisk Saturday, Sept. 30, evening, the No. 9 ranked GVSU Lakers secured their sixth consecutive win over the Saginaw Valley State Cardinals and fourth straight win this season. The Lakers move up to 4-1 (3-0 GLIAC) and knock the Cardinals down to 2-3 (0-3 GLIAC).
“It was a physical game," said head coach Matt Mitchell. "There was a lot of pad popping out there. That’s what you kind of expect from a rivalry game. We won by four scores, and there’s things we can be better at, and I think there’ll be some humility when we head in on Saturday.
"I don’t think anybody’s feeling like, 'Oh, great, we accomplished a ton because we beat Saginaw.' We understand it’s a good win, and it gets us to where we want to be in the conference race.”
With the victory, the Lakers remain one of three teams in the GLIAC undefeated in conference play this season, and they constitute the only squad with four conference victories.
Running back Bryce Young-Walls led the ground attack for the Lakers, accruing 97 yards on 15 carries and a touchdown, averaging 6.5 yards per carry. The sophomore took a majority of the carries, as starting running back Marty Carter nursed a lower-body injury that kept him out of practice twice in the week leading up to the game. Carter took four carries for 10 yards.
“I was really proud of Bryce Young-Walls," Mitchell said. "He stepped in and got a lot of reps on special teams and was our leading rusher. ... Credit to him. He was running down the kickoff every time and was doing a lot on special teams, too.”
While the air attack did not cover as much ground as they have in recent games, quarterback Bart Williams tossed two touchdown passes en route to a 9-17 day with 117 yards, one interception and a fumble. Wide receivers Urston Smith and Brandon Bean each reeled in three passes, while Smith picked up 74 yards and Bean had 24. Wide receiver Nick Dodson, making his season debut, had one catch and one touchdown.
The Lakers opened up the scoring with a seven-play drive capped by an end-around that Bean punched in for six. The Cardinals blocked the ensuing extra point.
SVSU answered immediately with a two-yard rush on the heels of a 70-yard pass completion. However, their extra point attempt clanked off the upright, keeping the game tied at six with 7:58 left in the first quarter.
“They were doing some things we hadn’t really seen before, but we came back in with some confidence,” said linebacker Collin Schlosser, who led the team with eight tackles on the night. “We gave up that one big play, the big pass, and they scored on that. To come back in, we felt like on that play we beat ourselves. We gave that to them.
“We had some confidence that what we were doing was working, as long as we stick to the plan and made some minor adjustments to the run scheme they were throwing at us. We came in with confidence, we gave up six points that personally I don’t think we should have given up and we’ll use that momentum to keep rolling in the second half.”
It would be all Lakers after that, starting with a 16-yard touchdown rush by Young-Walls in the second quarter.
Though nothing would come of GVSU’s next drive, SVSU fumbled the punt, which would end up being their first of three turnovers on the day. It was recovered by the Lakers in the red zone, setting up a Williams-to-Bean ten-yard touchdown strike, bringing the score up to 20-6 into halftime.
The lone score of the third quarter came on a two-yard touchdown pass from Williams to Dodson, who was making his season debut coming off an injury. It was his first catch and score on the campaign.
Williams tossed his second of the game in the third quarter, finding Dodson for a two-yard touchdown.
Early in the fourth quarter, Cardinal quarterback Ryan Conklin was sacked by defensive end Michael Pettis and lost the ball, a fumble that would be recovered by Garrett Pougnet, who took it the other way for a 37-yard defensive touchdown, bringing the tally to 34-6 GVSU.
Pougnet was the star of the day for the GVSU defense with an interception, six tackles and a sack to go along with his scoop-and-score.
“The coaches had a great game plan for us,” Pougnet said. “On the touchdown, there, I have to give all the credit to our defensive line. I was just more of a spy on the running back and happened to be in the right place at the right time. As a defense, I think we can continue to get better each week, and personally I feel we get better each week.
"We can continue to build confidence and get better, and like (Mitchell) said, there’s still errors to improve on and continue to keep pushing everyone and myself.”
Despite being outgained 278 yards to 224, the Lakers still managed to come away with the convincing victory. That can be attributed to them winning the turnover margin three to two, plus the blocked punt, holding the Cardinals to a measly six-for-seventeen on third-down conversions as well as zero-for-two on fourth downs, and scoring in the red zone on four of their five trips, compared to SVSU appearing only twice while converting once.
“Speed (on our defense) is showing up. We held them to 100 yards total rushing, and some of those are yards were there at the end,” Mitchell said. “Probably our starters held them to, I would guess, two yards per carry. It’s just something we’ve been doing a really good job of here during this four-game win streak that we’re on. We’re doing a really good job stopping the run.”
Coming off the win, the Lakers will prepare to hit the road for their first of three straight away games, starting with a trip to Detroit where they will battle the Wayne State Warriors (2-3, 1-2 GLIAC) Saturday, Oct. 7, at 6 p.m.