Two good: GVSU football beats Delta State in road contest
The Grand Valley State football team traveled south and saw their win count head north when the Lakers went to Cleveland, Miss. to take on Delta State.
GVSU defeated the Statesmen 21-10 in Cleveland, Miss. to improve to 2-0 on the season with wins against two 2017 playoff teams.
Opting for a charter flight instead of an 11 hour bus ride, the Lakers’ first road trip of the season was sure to be a test both logistically and physically as DSU, despite being 0-1, boast a storied history as perennial playoff contenders. They opened the game with fire, holding the Lakers’ offense scoreless in the first quarter while taking an early 3-0 lead.
GVSU eventually took their lead with 3:24 remaining in the first half on a Chawntez Moss five-yard rush following a blocked punt by linebacker Rahju Blackmon – his first of two on the night. The drive originally ended in a field goal, but Delta State was called for roughing the kicker which allowed the Lakers to try and go for more.
“(The penalty) made the decision to take the points off the board and go for touchdown easy,” said head coach Matt Mitchell. “Our offense executed in the run game and got us the touchdown."
The Lakers scored again with roughly seven minutes left in the third quarter when quarterback Bart Williams found wide receiver Austin Paritee for an 11-yard strike and again 10 minutes later when the pair hooked up for a 31-yard nail-in-the-coffin touchdown.
After scoring twice in week one, it was imperative that Paritee stepped up again against the Statesman as senior receiver Nick Dodson did not play due to injury.
Williams connected on only eight of his 26 pass attempts for 133 yards and two scores. Paritee made four catches for 62 yards and two touchdowns while receiver Brandon Wadley brought in two passes for 65 yards. Meanwhile, running backs Jack Provencher and Moss ran for 89 and 93 yards, respectively.
It was the defense and special teams that cemented the victory for the Lakers, though. Delta State was held to merely 3.8 yards per play as the Statesmen ran 86 plays for 325 total yards. GVSU forced three turnovers – two fumbles and a game-sealing interception by DeMario Johnson – along with two blocked punts while getting to Delta State’s quarterbacks for four sacks.
“Our depth was key again,” Mitchell said. “Delta State tried to use an up-tempo offense to limit it but we made good adjustments. Special teams were huge tonight. Got us all our field positions, especially in second half.”
Defensive end Dylan Carroll made 13 tackles with three tackles for loss and 0.5 sacks while linebacker Isaiah Nkansah wrapped up 11 tackles. Michael Pettis, Tyree Horton, Johnny Williams and Chris Hendricks all came up with sacks.
Additionally, punter Collin Cribley booted 12 punts for an average of 45.3 yards per attempt while pinning the Statesmen within their 20 once.
GVSU won despite being called for 11 penalties, many of which were questioned by players, coaches and broadcasters alike.
“We had a lot of adversity tonight that we overcame,” Mitchell said. “I’m proud of our team’s fight on the road.”
The Lakers will return home to prepare for another long road trip as they will take on the Northern Michigan Wildcats (1-1) on Saturday, Sept. 15 at 1 p.m.