Big Rapids, Mich. - A quick strike offensive attack, a strong defensive effort and solid special teams play fueled the Ferris State University football team to a decisive 59-16 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) road win over Walsh on Saturday (Sept. 28) night at historic Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio.
The Bulldogs remained unbeaten in league play with the win and the victory helped set up a showdown with fellow conference unbeaten Saginaw Valley State for FSU's homecoming contest next week.
Walsh came out strong early in the second-ever series matchup and the first game between the two teams played at the site of the Pro Football Hall of Fame before the Bulldogs took control early in the second quarter. It represented Ferris State's first-ever trip to Canton.
The Cavaliers shut down the Bulldog offense on FSU's first three possessions of the game while building a 3-0 first quarter lead on a 23-yard field goal from Michael Dudics with 6:43 to go in the first frame. His field goal capped a 51-yard WU scoring drive covering 14 plays.
However, the Bulldogs moved the football late in the opening period and finished the drive two minutes into the second quarter to grab the lead for good on a one-yard TD run by sophomore quarterback Jason Vander Laan. He engineered a 10-play, 64-yard march for Ferris State's first score.
It was hardly the last Bulldog touchdown as FSU forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and the offense moved 24 yards in five plays before Vander Laan found paydirt on a two-yard plunge to push the lead to 14-3 with 10:38 left in the half.
Ferris State jumped the lead to 21-3 at halftime with a key drive late in the second quarter, which was finalized by Vander Laan's third scoring run from six-yards out with 26 seconds to play in the stanza. His run finished a 67-yard jaunt that included nine plays.
The Bulldogs picked up right where they left off in the third quarter after receiving the second half kickoff. Vander Laan marched the offense 85 yards in five plays to build the lead to 28-3 as Dontae Ingraham reached the endzone with an electrifying 63-yard TD run.
On the ensuing possession, the Bulldog defense forced a fumble and FSU needed struck quickly again as Vander Laan hit junior wideout Jake Lampman on a 46-yard strike to the one-yard line. From there, Jamaal Jackson rambled in from a yard away to give the Bulldogs a 35-3 lead only three minutes into the second half.
FSU later tacked on a 23-yard field goal from senior Austin Kantola with 4:34 left in the third to push the margin to 38-3. His field goal came at the end of a 12-play, 61-yard Bulldog drive.
Walsh finally reached the endzone for the first time as the hosts drove 74 yards in nine plays to pull within 38-10 on a four-yard touchdown run from Jeremy Willison.
Again, though, the Bulldogs could not be slowed as backup quarterback Taylor Masiewicz connected with slot Torico Searcy for a 31-yard scoring play to start the final quarter. The score gave FSU a 45-10 lead.
The Cavaliers put together another scoring march before Willison caught a short two-yard TD pass from quarterback Paul Kempe with 10:52 to play to trim the margin to 45-16.
But, the Bulldogs controlled the fourth quarter as Kitwana Clark scored a pair of touchdowns, both on two-yard runs, to account for the final margin. FSU drove 47 yards in eight plays for Clark's first score before moving 78 yards in five plays on the final scoring drive.
FSU racked up 615 total offensive yards with 338 coming on the ground and 277 in the air. Meanwhile, the defense held Walsh to only 80 rushing yards on 30 carries and 369 total yards on the night.
Vander Laan led the offense as he completed 14-of-21 passes for 225 yards. He also ran for a team-high 85 yards on 23 carries with three TD runs. Clark added seven carries for 81 yards and two scores in a relief role.
In addition to his 63-yard TD run, Ingraham caught a squad-best four passes for 24 yards with Searcy adding three grabs for 39 yards and Phil Annese hauling in three catches for 10 yards. FSU spread the football around as 10 different players had at least one carry and nine different players caught a pass.
On the Walsh side, Justin Keith led the Cavaliers on the ground with 10 carries, but only for 27 yards. Kempe completed 29-of-47 passes for 256 yards with one interception. Six of his completions went to Krishawn Hogan, who totaled 59 yards.
Defensively, junior Scott Patalano paced the Bulldogs with a career-high 10 stops, including seven solo efforts. Fellow junior Terrell Porter added eight stops while senior Jamar Wimberly had six tackles.
Pat White and Nicholas King both totaled nine stops for Walsh, which fell to 1-3 overall and 1-2 in the GLIAC.
The Bulldogs' 615 yards of total offense marked the third time in 15 games under head coach Tony Annese in which FSU has totaled more than 600 yards in a game. Meanwhile, the 59 total points were FSU's most since a 62-42 homecoming win over Northern Michigan in Big Rapids back in 2005.
Ferris State, which is currently 3-1 overall and 3-0 in conference play, will host Saginaw Valley State for homecoming on Saturday (Oct. 5) starting at 2 p.m. (ET) at FSU's Top Taggart Field.
Tickets for next Saturday's game may be purchased in advance and fans can save over the gameday rates by buying ahead of time. Tickets can be bought online at startickets.com or call (231) 591-2888 for more information.
A potential large crowd is expected for Saturday's homecoming game as the Bulldogs unveil their new video scoreboard and sound system during the afternoon action.