Postgame Press Conference
Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University Bulldogs' quest for perfection came up just short on Saturday (Dec. 15) as the Bulldogs wrapped up the longest season in school history with a thrilling 49-47 setback to Valdosta State (Ga.) in the NCAA Division II National Championship game played at the McKinney ISD Stadium in McKinney, Texas.
The Bulldogs, who were seeking the first 16-0 season in NCAA history, scored twice in a late five-minute span of the fourth quarter to pull within two against the top-seeded Blazers, but a potential game-tying two-point conversion failed as VSU held on for the win.
Valdosta State tallied nearly 500 yards of total offense and won a high-scoring championship game tilt over FSU, which finished its most historic season in school history with a 15-1 overall record while reaching the national title game for the first time in school history. The 15 wins represent a nation-best total and surpassed the previous school record for total victories.
After holding VSU to a missed field goal on the first drive, the Bulldogs started fast with an 80-yard TD pass from slot receiver Jevon Shaw to wideout Keyondre Craig for a score on their first offensive play.
However, Valdosta State answered with a 75-yard drive to knot the game up with 5:23 left in the first on a 21-yard TD toss from Rogan Wells.
FSU regained the lead and led 10-7 going into the second when junior kicker Jackson Dieterle converted a NCAA Championship game record 52-yard field goal.
Again, though, VSU responded and took a 14-10 margin on Wells' nine-yard scoring throw to Kenny Benjamin. Soon after, a three-yard TD run from FSU's Harlon Hill Trophy winner Jayru Campbell gave the Bulldogs 17-14 edge early in the second frame.
Valdosta State added a pair of second-quarter scores on a 66-yard scoring throw from Wells along with a one-yard Seth McGill TD run late in the opening half to grab a 28-24 lead at the break. FSU split the two scores with an eight-yard TD run from junior slot Davontae Harrington.
The Bulldogs took the second half kick and moved 85 yards in 12 plays before Marvin Campbell gave FSU a 31-28 margin with 9:49 remaining in the third. But, Valdosta State cut the margin down on Joe Fortson's 16-yard scoring connection from Wells with 6:28 left in the third.
Later, VSU took a two-score lead on Wells' one-yard scoring throw to Travis Taylor with less than five minutes to play in the third, but FSU raced 92 yards in nine plays to cut the lead down to 42-38 on Craig's 13-yard diving grab in the endzone after a deflected ball.
Valdosta State gain increased its lead to 49-38 with 11:36 left on Wells' 25-yard scoring throw to Ivory Durham, but the Bulldogs converted a 31-yard field goal from Dieterle to pull within 49-41 with 5:31 left.
After getting the ball back on a defensive stop on downs, FSU drove 66 yards in five plays and reached an opportunity to reach the endzone. The Bulldogs finally did with 40 seconds left on Sy Barnett's five yard scoring run, but a potential game-tying halfback throw from Shaw to Craig campe up incomplete as time expired.
Overall, Valdosta State had 496 yards of total offense to 449 for FSU and Wells threw for 349 yards on 19-of-31 passing and five scores. Campbell led FSU with 122 yards rushing while completing 10-of-18 passes for 99 yards. Both Austin Edwards and DeShaun Thrower led the defense with eight stops each.
Along with setting a school record for wins and reaching the national title game for the first time, the Bulldogs capped off a historic and stellar 2018 season. The Bulldogs won the GLIAC Championship and captured the Super Region Three title after a memorable three-point run.