The SVSU football team got back on track Saturday against GLIAC newcomer Davenport, blowing out the Panthers 33-0 in the first meeting between the two programs.
The SVSU defense was dominant, holding Davenport to just 44 yards of total offense on 52 plays. The defense, coupled with a special teams touchdown, a defensive touchdown and three scoring drives, was more than enough for the Cardinals in the win.
“We needed a bounce back,” Collins said. “These last three weeks have been tough. Our guys responded the way they needed to respond, and I thought all week long we bounced back from the Grand Valley defeat really well. Our guys were prepared, and I think they came out and played a great game today.”
After the teams traded punts for the first half of the opening quarter, SVSU struck first when redshirt sophomore quarterback Ryan Conklin found redshirt freshman receiver Marcus Edmondson wide open for a 42-yard touchdown strike. It was Edmondson’s fourth touchdown of the season.
Following a six-yard punt by Davenport, SVSU had the ball back already inside Panther territory. On second down, Conklin again found Edmondson for 10 yards to bring SVSU inside the Davenport 30, and a seven-yard rush from sophomore Tommy Scott Jr. put SVSU in the red zone as the first quarter came to an end.
Entering the contest, Scott ranked fifth in the GLIAC, averaging 97 yards per game on the ground.
Freshman running back Nate McCrary made it 13-0 in favor of the Cardinals on a four-yard touchdown run, capping a 10-play, 40-yard drive that spanned four and a half minutes. The extra point was blocked.
“We came out strong,” Conklin said. “We put up 20 points pretty quickly in the first half, and we were moving the ball really well. That set the tone for the rest of the game.”
Davenport, which entered the game 0-5, continued to struggle offensively. On its next drive, an attempted punt was fumbled, then recovered by Davenport’s punter, who was brought down by senior defensive lineman Jack Jennings to once again give SVSU the ball inside Davenport territory.
SVSU wasted no time getting back on the scoreboard, as Conklin found redshirt freshman Chad Gailliard for a 39-yard strike on the first play of its next drive to make it 20-0.
Conklin entered Saturday second in the GLIAC with 227.2 yards passing per game, and his 65.8 completion percentage was tops in the league. He finished the game 14-22 for 163 yards and two touchdowns.
Late in the half, Edmondson continued his big day, going up to haul in a 24-yard reception. However, SVSU’s drive stalled from there as it turned the ball over on downs.
Edmondson finished the day with three catches for 76 yards.
“He’s got really good hands,” Conklin said. “I feel extremely confident, and the confidence continues to grow that I can just throw the ball to him and he’s going to catch it every time. For being a young guy, he seems very relaxed, and he can get behind guys and make big plays.”
SVSU’s defense got a turnover in Davenport territory on the ensuing possession on an interception by junior defensive back Ryan Verhelst. But a second straight SVSU drive stalled in Panther territory, and kicker Alex Kenrick missed a 30-yard field goal attempt to keep it 20-0 SVSU going into halftime.
SVSU scored a special teams touchdown late in the third quarter, when Davenport was attempting to punt, but the snap went over the punter’s head and rolled into the end zone and was ultimately recovered by senior receiver Damaris Woods. Another missed extra point kept the score at 26-0 SVSU.
With just under 10 minutes left in the game, redshirt freshman Donnell Alexander intercepted Davenport quarterback Cody Long and returned it 19 yards for a Cardinal touchdown as SVSU extended its lead to 33-0.
“Those two scores were real big,” Collins said. “Davenport’s defense did a nice job of clamping down in the red zone, and we struggled a little bit, but we felt relaxed because we knew our defense was playing great. To be able to get some scores in the second half like we did were big as far as momentum and it takes some pressure off of the offense.”
Senior linebacker Bryan Jones and junior defensive back Dillon Dixon led the defense with seven tackles.
“I thought we did really well,” Jones said. “We were gap sound and executed really well in our coverages and our blitzes. That offense has still put up points and yardage this year, and we held them to less than 50 yards.”
Next week, SVSU hosts Ferris State in the annual Homecoming football game at 3 p.m. The Bulldogs enter the contest 4-1 following a 13-3 win over Tiffin on Saturday.