Football finale ends in loss

For the second consecutive year, the SVSU football team fell short against rival Grand Valley State.

On Saturday, the Cardinals lost to GVSU, 21-3. The loss concluded the season for the Cards as the team finished with a 2-9 record, 2-8 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC).

The Valley Vanguard

Vanguard photo | Cody Shrader

Senior tight end Andrew Dillon braces for contact after making a catch in Saturday’s game, his last as a Cardinal. He had two grabs for five yards on the day.

Both teams struggled in the first half. After getting a field goal on its first offensive drive, SVSU failed to move the ball on the ground against a stout Lakers defense. Grand Valley took the ball on its second possession and moved down the field, scoring on the ground to take an early 7-3 lead.

GVSU looked to extend its lead before halftime, when the Lakers blocked a punt deep in Cardinals’ territory. Sophomore linebacker Joe Craven stepped up on the ensuing drive, intercepting a pass to keep the game close.

The second half featured much of the same back-and-forth play, but the Lakers soon ran away with the game, scoring twice on the ground.

“We played hard and very physical, but we didn’t execute enough on offense,” senior tight end Andrew Dillon said. “Everything was good, but we didn’t finish drives.”

Redshirt quarterback Tyler Palka said the team played its heart out, but noted that the offense failed to play up to the level it needed to.

“We fought extremely hard for all four quarters and that’s a testament to our seniors, their leadership,” he said. “The seniors played their hearts out and most of them were banged up.

“We played a pretty good defense, and didn’t put points up on the board to match how well our defense played.”

Not only was the game played for Battle of the Valleys, but it was also the final game for 12 seniors who were commemorated prior to the game.

Dillon said that he would miss suiting up for the Cardinals.

“It’s bittersweet (to be ending my career),” he said. “There were times where it was really tough, but it was worth it and at the end of the day I’ll miss it.”

In what turned out to be a rebuilding year, SVSU was able to find a set of new playmakers for the future.

Palka started five games in his first year on the field for the Cardinals. The youngster showed the ability to use his legs, rushing for 262 yards on the year. Through the air, Palka threw for 736 yards and four scoring tosses. He said that the success he found this year can only help going forward.

“The confidence I built this year will help,” he said. “The playing experience has allowed me to make plays and get my team believing in me.”

Palka was quick to thank those around him for helping him ease into the starting lineup.

“It’s a big thanks to the receivers for making plays and getting my confidence up when throwing the ball,” he said. “I think our line had a lot to do with my success running the ball [as] they consistently gave me big holes to run through.”

Another contributor for the team in his first year as a Cardinal was junior wide receiver Bryan Fobbs. After transferring from De Anza College in Cupertino, California, Fobbs pulled in a team-leading 52 passes for 612 yards and six scores.

Next year SVSU will return a large portion of its offensive and defensive backfields. The experience players gained this season will be important for the success of next year’s team.

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