Postgame Press Conference
More Postgame Coverage Coming Soon!
Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University football squad advanced to the NCAA Division II National Championship game for the first time in school history with an impressive 42-25 road win over Minnesota State on Saturday (Dec. 8) in the national semifinals in Mankato, Minn.
The Bulldogs built a 21-10 first half lead and scored three of the four touchdowns in the second half to pull away late from the Mavericks in improving to 15-0 overall this season.
With the win, the Bulldogs will now face top-seeded Valdosta State (Ga.) in the 2018 D2 National Championship game on Saturday, Dec. 15, in McKinney, Texas. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. (ET).
Ferris State fell behind early as the Mavericks took the first lead on quarterback JD Ekowa's three-yard scoring run five minutes into the game.
However, FSU answered quickly with a four-play, 69-yard jaunt capped by sophomore back Marvin Campbell's 40-yard TD run, which knotted the game up with 9:04 left in the first period.
The Mavericks regained the lead on a 22-yard Casey Bednarski field goal with 3:28 left in the opening stanza, making it a 10-7 game.
Again, though, FSU responded and drove 66 yards in four plays with junior quarterback Jayru Campbell hooking up with senior receiver Malik Taylor on a 27-yard scoring throw to give the Bulldogs their first lead at 14-10 following the first quarter.
In the second frame, Ferris Stated pushed the margin to 21-10 when redshirt freshman Sy Barnett found paydirt on a two-yard scoring run with 9:25 remaining in the half.
The score stood until they final minute of the opening frame when the Mavericks put nine points on the board in a 48-second span. The first was a 27-yard TD pass from Ryan Schlichte to Justin Arnold, which finished an eight-play, 53-yard march. Then, after holding the Bulldogs, Bednarski converted a 41-yard field goal as the half expired to cut the margin to 21-19 at the break.
In the third period, the Bulldogs got the only score with 1:46 left as Campbell found slot receiver Dion Earls on a 55-yard scoring throw to put FSU back in front by two scores at 28-19 heading to the fourth period.
Minnesota State cut the deficit back to three at 28-25 with 12:08 remaining as tailback Nate Gunn reached the endzone on a one-yard run to finish off a lengthy 12-play, 75-yard drive.
From there, though, FSU seized control again and pushed the lead to 10 with 5:10 to play on Marvin Campbell's one-yard burst. Soon after, the Bulldog defense forced a turnover and FSU took advantage of the short field to score on the first play as senior back Derrick Portis reached the endzone from 19-yards away to seal the win.
The Bulldogs totaled 457 yards in the game, including 206 rushing along with 251 passing. MSU had 469 total yards with 183 on the ground and 286 thru the air.
FSU's Jayru Campbell completed 16-of-25 passes for 251 yards and two scores while also running for a team-high 103 yards on 19 attempts. Marvin Campbell added 60 yards rushing and Barnett caught four balls for 91 yards while senior Keyondre Craig had four grabs for 32 yards.
Gunn led Minnesota State with 149 yards rushing on 33 carries while standout receiver Shane Zylstra had nine catches for 178 total yards.
Junior Austin Edwards led the FSU defense with 10 tackles, a sack, a tackle for loss and a forced fumble in the victory.
Stay tuned to FerrisStateBulldogs.com for additional playoff and national championship game information as it becomes available.