December 16th, 2019 9:00am
The top-ranked Ferris State Bulldogs suffered its first loss of the season on Saturday to No. 4 West Florida in the NCAA Division II National Semifinals at Top Taggart Field.
A season-high six turnovers committed by the Bulldogs helped spark a West Florida turnaround in the second half to the tune of outscoring FSU 18-0 in the final quarter en route to the 28-14 win for the Argonauts.
It’s another storybook season for Ferris State as the legacy of head coach Tony Annese continues to be cemented among the greats in D2 history, however, unfortunately for Bulldog faithful, 2019 ends in heartbreak fashion.
“We Picked a very bad time to play our worst game,” Tony Annese said after the game in his postgame press conference.
I would say that is a very accurate summary of Saturday’s contest.
Given the FSU turnovers and the missed opportunities, you’d be hard-pressed to find a game in the last several years where Ferris State imploded like this, but as athletes and coaches alike know – football can be brutally unforgiving and cutthroat. In a single elimination tournament, you can’t have an ‘off-game.’
On the flip side – a credit to West Florida for making the plays in crunch time and earning a trip to McKinney, Texas, for the school’s second championship game appearance in its brief four years of existence. What head coach Pete Shinnick and his staff have been able to achieve in a short amount of time is nothing short of remarkable, it’ll be interesting to see if they can win the National Championship next weekend against Minnesota State.
In the heat of the moment and immediate aftermath, it’s hard not to look at this game and point out the costly mistakes that lead to the defeat, but upon reflecting on the entire 2019 season for Ferris State, it’s worth noting how incredible of a season the Bulldogs put together.
It’s easy for me to say as an observer, but despite the disappointing conclusion, the 2019 body of work put together by the Ferris State program is much to be proud of. Ferris State captured its second consecutive GLIAC title and made another deep run in the playoffs. In the last four seasons, Ferris State has reached at least the national quarter finals each year – no other team in the country can claim that.
From the very beginning of the season, Ferris State made it clear the ultimate goal was to win a National Championship, and despite that goal falling short on Saturday, the Bulldogs were a tremendous representative of the GLIAC this postseason. Big Rapids, Michigan rings loud and clear as home of some of the best Division II football in the country.
In each of my first two years covering the GLIAC for D2football.com, Ferris State has been the last GLIAC school remaining, and thus, I’ve spent more time following the Bulldog program. I’m interested to see if they can keep this incredible run going in Big Rapids. Sustaining the level of success they have had for the better part of six years is remarkably admirable, but each year it becomes increasingly more difficult as players graduate and move on and the Bulldogs continue to be the hunted in the GLIAC. A championship standard has been set at Ferris State, and I look forward to seeing what the future holds for the Bulldogs and the entire GLIAC for that matter.
With Ferris State eliminated from the playoffs, we officially turn the page to the offseason where each member school of the GLIAC will look to earn some recruiting victories and retool for the 2020 season.
For now, it’s a see you later for me! I’ll save my heartfelt, emotional goodbye for this week’s episode of GLIAC Football Weekly.
Thank you for reading and following along all year – it’s been a privilege and a pleasure covering the GLIAC, the greatest DII conference in all the land!