Post Game Press Conference
Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University football team put together a valiant second-half comeback in its home debut on Saturday (Sept. 15) night at Top Taggart Field, but came up short against nationally 22nd-ranked Ashland in a 47-32 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) contest before a large, enthusiastic and supportive crowd.
The Bulldogs trailed 23-0 at halftime, but fought back to pull within eight points in the second half before the Eagles returned a FSU onside kick attempt 43 yards for a score to put the game out of reach in the final minute.
The visiting Eagles opened the scoring with a 31-yard field goal from Cameron Casey with 8:30 to go in the first period to grab an early 3-0 lead. They had an opportunity to increase lead late in the opening stanza, but FSU came up with a goal line stand to keep it a three-point game after the first period.
However, Ashland scored 20 points in the second quarter to build its 23-point advantage at the break. It began with a 69-yard drive to open the period, which was capped by an 18-yard TD toss from quarterback Taylor Housewright to Steve Nagy.
The Eagles pushed the lead to 16-0 as Housewright connected on a six-yard scoring play to Anthony Capasso to cap a 39-yard jaunt with 7:59 remaining in the half. The lead grew again as Nagy hauled in his second of three scores from seven-yards away to finish an eight-play, 80-yard drive with only 1:22 left in the second frame.
The Bulldogs stole the momentum, however, coming out of the locker room at halftime. FSU drove 51 yards in seven plays and found the endzone for the first time with 11:39 to go in the third when sophomore quarterback Taylor Masiewicz dove in from a yard out.
After a defensive stop, the Bulldogs then marched 43 yards in four plays to cut the margin to 23-14 on Skyler Stoker's 26-yard scoring run with 8:40 left in the quarter. Ashland answered back with a 60-yard drive as Nagy notched his third touchdown on a one-yard blast near the end of the frame.
The two teams traded scores throughout the fourth quarter. FSU scored only five seconds into the final period on a 31-yard hookup from quarterback Jason Vander Laan to senior wideout Kevin Guirand. But, AU responded with a 78-yard drive finished by Housewright's 12-yard scoring pass to Logan Slavinski with 12:57 left in the game.
The Bulldogs then proceeded to drive 86 yards in 10 plays and Guirand caught his second touchdown from 22-yards away on a pass thrown by Masiewicz.
The Eagles tried to salt the game away with a lengthy drive that covered 76 yards, took 16 plays and chewed up almost seven minutes. It was finally finished with a 21-yard field goal from Casey that increased AU's edge to 40-29 with only 2:14 left.
FSU wasn't done, though, as the Bulldogs moved 69 yards in 14 plays and needed only 1:26 before settling for a 26-yard field goal from Austin Kantola with 40 seconds left. The onside kick try, however, was picked up by Ashland's Dan Piko, who raced 43 yards to the endzone to finally settle the outcome.
Both teams rolled up more than 500 yards of total offense as Au finished with 78 plays for 537 yards and the Bulldogs totaled 504 yards on 93 plays. More than 350 of FSU's yards came in the final half.
Housewright completed 25 of 36 passes for 438 yards in leading the Ashland attack. Piko caught six of his throws for 142 yards and Eric Thompkins had six catches as well for 120 yards. The Eagles were limited to 99 yards on the ground on 42 tries with Anthony Taylor picking up a team-best 47 yards.
On the Bulldog side, Ferris State was balanced with both 252 passing and rushing yards. Stoker led FSU on the ground with 97 yards on 11 carries and Vander Laan added 75 yards on 18 rushes. In the air, Vander Laan was 10-of-27 for 144 yards and Masiewicz completed eight-of-18 throws for 108 yards. Wide receiver A.J. McEwen led the Bulldogs with five receptions for 54 yards while Guirand made four grabs for 87 yards and two scores.
Senior outside linebacker Tayo Moss paced the Bulldog defense with 10 total tackles while Jaime Barrera added eight stops. Brian Gamble tallied a game-best 13 hits for the Eagles.
Ferris State fell to 2-1 overall and 1-1 in league play with the setback while AU improved to 3-0 overall and 2-0 in conference action.
The Bulldogs will try to get back in the win column next Saturday, Sept. 22, as they host league newcomer Walsh for the first-time ever at Top Taggart Field. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. for the "Paint Big Rapids Pink Kickoff" in support of cancer research.
Tickets for next Saturday's game will be on sale at the FSU Athletics Ticket Office Monday thru Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (ET) or online at www.startickets.com. Fans can save $2 per ticket by purchasing in advance. For more information, please call (231) 591-2888 or visit FerrisStateBulldogs.com.
Bulldog Bites: The meeting was the first between the two conference foes since 2009 .... AU improved to 14-9 all-time against the Bulldogs with their ninth victory in Big Rapids ..... Ferris State was seven-of-22 on third down and five-of-eight on fourth down in the game ....... Both teams had 27 first downs apiece ...... Neither team turned the ball over in the contest ..... Ashland scored seven of eight times in the red zone ....... The contest represented FSU's annual "Agriculture Day" presented by the Michigan Farm Bureau ... The Bulldogs wore their new crimson "red" jerseys and gold pants for the first time.