By Bobby Cardenas
Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State Bulldogs pulled out a gritty win against the Tiffin Dragons last Saturday thanks to impressive defensive play and the leg of senior kicker Wyatt Ford. They expect another challenge this week as they visit Saginaw Valley State for a key GLIAC contest on the road.
The Bulldogs welcomed the 4-1 Tiffin Dragons to Top Taggart Field last Saturday (Oct. 7) and won a close game by the score of 13-3. Ferris State's Ford converted on both of his field goal attempts and accounted for seven of the Bulldogs' 13 points on his way to earning GLIAC player of the week honors. The offenses on both teams struggled to consistenly move the ball at times due to impressive defensive play.
FSU hopes its stellar defensive effort continues as they hit the road this week.
"In games like that, it's pretty apparent that you better take care of the football," said FSU Head Coach Tony Annese. "We took care of the ball pretty well."
Ferris State fell behind early to the Dragons after kicker Joseph Metcalf split the uprights on a 22-yard field goal attempt in the first quarter. However, the Bulldogs got on the board just before halftime thanks to a 27-yard field goal by Ford.
Afte forcing the Dragons to punt the ball away on their first drive of the second half, sophomore quarterback Travis Russell hit a wide-open Jahaan Brown streaking down the sideline for a 34 yard touchdown to give Ferris State its first lead of the game. Ford hit the extra point to cap off an eight play, 55-yard drive by the Bulldogs. He later hit another 27-yard field goal with 6:48 left in the third quarter to put the Bulldogs up 13-3 and account for the final margin.
While the offense produced key points in the third quarter, it was the defense that set the tone. Late in the third quarter, the Dragons were knocking on the door and drove the ball inside the FSU five-yard line. The Bulldogs stopped the Dragons on fourth down and got the ball back just before the start of the fourth quarter.
"That was huge," said senior linebacker Nick Huckabay.
Huckabay finished with a team-high 12 tackles for the Bulldogs. Tiffin gave up three sacks against the Bulldogs on Saturday and Dragon quarterback Nick Watson threw only his fourth interception of the year.
"The defense was top notch and as great a level as we've had here," said Annese.
The Bulldogs have experienced offensive inconsistencies at times due to injuries and inexperience at certain positions, but the Bulldogs' defense is what will keep them in any game they play. The FSU defense held Tiffin's star tailback JaQuan Hardy to 50 yards on 19 carries and a season-low 2.9 yards per attempt.
"Football is a game of momentum and we played with it Saturday," said Huckabay.
Ferris State will look to carry the momentum from itsr big win Saturday to University Center to take on a much-improved Saginaw Valley State team at 3 p.m. (ET). The Bulldogs hope to continue the stellar defensive play into a tough road challenge.