The Ferris State Bulldogs used a 21-0 second half to give SVSU its second loss of the season on Saturday, Oct. 20.
Ferris State came into the game undefeated and ranked second in the nation, while the Cardinals were looking to improve on their best season since 2013. The Bulldogs overcame a 14-7 halftime deficit to pull out a 28-14 win and improve to 8-0 on the season.
The loss dropped SVSU to 6-2 and 3-2 in GLIAC play.
“You can’t second guess the effort our guys played with (Saturday),” head coach Jim Collins said. “They showed up, they played hard, and I thought, in terms of the challenge that was in front of them, they really did a good job of managing that and coming ready to play.”
The Bulldogs forced a quick three-and-out on the Cardinals’ first possession. The resulting Bulldog drive ended in one play, a 62-yard passing touchdown from Bulldog quarterback Jayru Campbell to receiver Jevon Shaw.
The Cardinals responded with a quick drive themselves, scoring on just two plays. Junior quarterback Ryan Conklin connected with junior wide receiver Michael King for a 76-yard gain, bringing the Cardinals to the Ferris State one-yard line. Nate McCrary capitalized on the next play with a one-yard rushing touchdown, knotting the score at seven.
After the two early touchdowns, the teams traded punts for the remainder of the first quarter. The Cardinals were next to find the end zone after putting together a five-play, 49-yard drive that was capped off by another one-yard McCrary touchdown, which was set up by a 34-yard hook-up between Conklin and sophomore wide receiver Chad Gailliard to the one-yard line. That would be the last score of the half, giving the Cardinals a 14-7 halftime advantage.
The Bulldogs didn’t take long tying the game back up, as they scored on their first possession of the second half on a one-yard Campbell rush. The Bulldog came up with a takeaway on the next drive, as linebacker Delon Stephenson intercepted Conklin. The Cardinal defense held firm on the ensuing drive, denying the Bulldogs on a fourth-and-two from the SVSU 10-yard line.
After a failed Cardinal punt attempt, the Bulldogs held great field position, starting at the Saginaw Valley 15-yard line. It took the Bulldogs one play to reach the end zone, scoring and taking a 21-14 lead on a 15-yard rush from Campbell. The score remained 21-14 in favor of the Bulldogs at the beginning of the final quarter. However, within the first minute of the fourth, Campbell rushed for another touchdown, this one from 18 yards out.
Stephenson picked off another pass, giving him two interceptions on the day and his team an even more comfortable position in the game. The Bulldog defense endured through the entire second half, allowing no scores.
Senior linebacker Michael Alexander was selected as Saginaw Valley’s Meijer Player of the Game, posting a career-high 21 tackles while tallying 1.5 tackles-for-loss and a forced fumble. McCrary finished the game with two rushing touchdowns and 63 yards on 19 carries.
Alexander said he was looking forward to his final home game next week in the annual Battle of the Valleys game against Grand Valley, as well as the remainder of the season.
“I know we can accomplish anything we want to accomplish still,” he said. “We can go out there, motivated, and get the job done.”