Postgame Press Conference
Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University football squad opened the year with a victory as the nation's second-ranked Bulldogs held on for a 24-23 win over Findlay on Thursday (Sept. 5) night in season-opening action at FSU's Top Taggart Field.
The Bulldogs built a 24-17 lead in the fourth quarter before the Oilers marched 95 yards in nine plays to pull within a point inside of a minute to play. However, a two-point conversion try came up short at the goal line as FSU preserved the victory.
Findlay struck first early as the Oilers scored the initial drive of the game, moving 75 yards in six plays to take the first lead on Ruben Flowers' 37-yard scoring reception from Matt Winzeler.
Ferris State took its first advantage in the contest late in the first period when Tyler Burch connected on a 24-yard field goal with 4:51 remaining in the first stanza to finish an 11-play, 66-yard FSU drive.
However, the Oilers bounced back and went up 14-10 on Winzeler's 13-yard scoring toss to Luke Stuffel only four seconds into the second period.
Eventually, FSU went into halftime ahead 17-14 as Russell scored on a two-yard keeper to finish a 13-play, 68-yard march midway thru the second frame.
In the third quarter, the Oilers accounted for the only scoring as Chase Wilcox hit a 34-yard field goal to tie the game up with 2:34 remaining, ending an eight-play, 82-yard trip down the field.
Ferris State got the go-ahead score with 11:57 left in the contest when senior slot receiver Davontae Harrington found the endzone on a four-yard scoring run after a six-play, 45-yard drive.
The score stood until the final minute when the Oilers found paydirt on Winzeler's two-yard run with 51 seconds to go. UF went 95 yards in nine plays to pull within a point, but elected to go for two and the Bulldogs came up with the needed stop to earn the win.
Findlay totaled 469 yards of offense to 405 for the Bulldogs with the Oilers rushing for 244 yards on the ground. FSU picked up 165 yards rushing and also threw for 240 in the win.
Russell completed 15-of-24 passes for 228 yards and also ran for a team-high 61 yards for the Bulldogs. Tailback Marvin Campbell caught four passes for 28 yards and added 51 yards rushing on 15 carries.
Winzeler threw for 225 yards passing on 18-of-39 throwing with Ruben Flowers accounting for 156 receiving yards on 10 catches. Brian Benson ran for 180 yards on 23 carries for the Oilers, who finished 8-3 last year and narrowly missed reaching the D2 Playoffs.
Defensively, linebacker Sam Heyboer paced the Bulldogs with a team-high 10 tackles.
The win lifted the Bulldogs to 6-0 under head coach Tony Annese against the Oilers.
Ferris State will make the longest trip in school history next week to face Central Washington in the NCAA Division II Showcase National Game of the Week on ESPN3 on Saturday, Sept. 14. Kickoff is set for 4:05 p.m. (Pacific) or 7:05 p.m. (ET) in Ellensburg, Wash.