The SVSU football team fell to rival Grand Valley 34-6 on Saturday, the team’s third straight loss after beginning the year 2-0.
SVSU had more total offense than GVSU, but two very quick scoring drives and a fumble recovery for a touchdown gave the Lakers all they would need to improve to 4-1 on the season.
“Grand Valley is a good football team,” head coach Jim Collins said. “We knew that we would have to execute better in all three phases, and we did not. We weren’t able to capitalize on their turnovers.”
GVSU got the scoring started on its first drive of the game, going 58 yards in seven plays capped off by senior receiver Brandon Bean’s one-yard touchdown run. A blocked extra point kept the score at 6-0.
SVSU responded with a touchdown of its own on the ensuing possession. On second down from the Cardinal 25-yard line, redshirt sophomore quarterback Ryan Conklin connected with junior receiver Michael King for 70 yards, moving the ball all the way to the GVSU 5-yard line.
Two plays later, freshman running back Nate McCrary scored from two yards out, but a failed extra point kept the score at 6-6.
The Cardinals appeared to be in business when on GV’s next drive, Laker quarterback Bart Williams was intercepted by junior defensive back Ryan Verhelst in the end zone.
SVSU then drove into Laker territory on a 24-yard run from sophomore running back Tommy Scott Jr. and another long completion from Conklin to King. However, following a sack, Conklin was intercepted by Grand Valley’s Garrett Pougnet to kill the Cardinal momentum.
The Cardinals forced another Laker turnover in SVSU territory on the ensuing possession when senior captain Bryan Jones forced a Williams fumble that was recovered by senior defensive end Zack Hadorn.
On SVSU’s ensuing drive, senior Tyler Marcus’ punt was blocked by GVSU’s Jailyn Harden, setting up the Lakers with great field position on the SVSU 25.
It was all GVSU from there, as the defending GLIAC champions scored 28 unanswered points to run away from SVSU.
The Lakers took advantage of the good field position following the punt block, as redshirt sophomore running back Bryce Young-Walls found the end zone for GV on a 16-yard scamper, making it 13-6 in favor of GVSU.
Grand Valley’s defense found its groove against the Cardinal offense as SVSU struggled to move the ball consistently. Forced into several third-and-longs, Conklin was sacked six times by the Laker defense.
“Their defense does a lot of disguises before the ball is snapped,” Conklin said. “They had a good plan defensively and played hard and didn’t miss tackles.”
The next Grand Valley touchdown came after SVSU senior receiver Alfonso Vultaggio fumbled a Laker punt, setting GVSU up inside the Cardinal 10-yard line. Williams found Bean on the very next play to make it 20-6 Lakers. That score would stand until half time.
Grand Valley added a touchdown in each of the next two quarters to seal the 34-6 victory.
“There are definitely positives to be taken,” Conklin said. “First being that the season isn’t even halfway over yet, we can learn from this game and our mistakes and still do a lot of good things to finish the year.”
SVSU returns home next weekend in need of a victory against 0-5 Davenport, which fell to Ashland 38-0 on Saturday.