October 21st, 2019 11:00am
Week 7 on the gridiron in the GLIAC brought us two of the more dramatic finishes we have seen all year as Ashland and Wayne State battled it out in a double overtime thriller, and Saginaw Valley State saw a victory evaporate in the final seconds compliments of a late Lindenwood touchdown.
Aside from those two memorable finishes, the rest of the day was relatively snooze worthy – heavy favorites Grand Valley State and Ferris State both won big, while Michigan Tech went on the road to Grand Rapids and absolutely dominated an overmatched Davenport squad.
We’ll start with the nightcap in Detroit because it was a game worthy of an ‘Instant Classic’ title as the Warriors built a commanding 35-7 lead with 5:46 left in the third quarter, and it seemed an easy victory was on the horizon. Not so fast! Ashland came storming back with four consecutive touchdowns with the game-tying score coming on an Austin Brenner four-yard touchdown pass to Logan Bolin with 24 seconds left in regulation. The craziness continued into overtime – Wayne State had a field goal blocked on it’s first possession of the extra session, meaning Ashland only needed a field goal to win, but the Eagles missed a 33-yard attempt extending the game to a second overtime session. In that second session, AU’s Gei'vonni Washington scored from six yards out, but the ensuing PAT was blocked, leaving the door open for Wayne State. On the first play of double overtime, Warrior quarterback Jake AmRhein found Darece Roberson Jr. for the score setting up true freshman kicker Niccolo Seilo. Right on cue, Seilo booted the game-winning extra-point through the uprights to send the Warriors out in style after the dramatic walk-off win.
Hard to imagine a more bizarre set of sequences unfolding in just one single game – a roller coaster all the way around for both teams. I’ll take this time right away to apologize to Ashland for saying on GLIAC Football Weekly that I thought they were this year’s team of destiny and that they would run the table the rest of the way. Although the Eagles nearly pulled the unthinkable comeback, in the end it was the Warriors who stood strong. Now with three losses, Ashland’s playoff hopes have likely died, while the Warriors are making a strong case for being considered as part of the upper echelon of the GLIAC. With just the one loss in conference, there are still plenty of bizarre scenarios that could unfold in which Wayne State could be every bit a part of the conversation for the top of the GLIAC standings. The Warriors head to Midland next week to take on Northwood, while Ashland will host a tough Michigan Tech squad.
It’s worth pointing out I was 3-2 this week with my picks, I had Ashland beating Wayne State, and SVSU winning on the road against Lindenwood – neither occurred.
The Cardinals lead late 31-28 after a dramatic go-ahead touchdown catch by Casey Williams with just 55 seconds remaining, but even that was too much time for the potent Lindenwood offense, the Lions drove 75 yards in just six plays for the winning touchdown – a 36-yard strike from Cade Brister to Najee Jackson with only 10 seconds showing on the clock. Gut-wrenching losses for the Cardinals on back-to-back weeks, and after a hot start, SVSU has fallen to 4-3.
I was extremely surprised by this result for the Cardinals – I even bragged all week to my fellow D2 columnists, Bryon Ramos who covers the GLVC, that the GLIAC would once again prevail over the GLVC. I was wrong. You have to give credit to Lindenwood for making the plays down the stretch – but also hold SVSU’s defense responsible for giving up gashing plays on the final stretch. Any post-season hope for SVSU is most likely out the window after suffering another close defeat.
The rest of the weekend culminated with three big blowouts – beginning with Michigan Tech over Davenport. I watched the opening half of this game because it started earlier than the other contests, and my first reaction is what a nice job Davenport does with its FREE webcast. Amazing, it’s 2019 and we have the technology available to offer free, convenient viewing options. If only every school in the conference could provide this. Anyways, I’m not sure what the pregame breakfast was at the local Holiday Inn for Michigan Tech, but they should eat it before every game – MTU game storming out of the gates and dominated the Panthers to the tune of a 30-0 halftime lead. The Huskies forced DU into four first half turnovers that helped propel the offense to run seamlessly through the Panther defense. MTU quarterback Will Ark found senior wide receiver Ben Hartley for two first half receiving touchdowns, and Hartley even threw for a TD himself late in the second quarter. Now, MTU didn’t exactly stay on the gas, but this game was out of reach from the jump as the Huskies earned the 30-17 win. Davenport didn’t quit by any means, but watching this game I never had the feeling Davenport was in it, especially considering Davenport’s final score came extremely late in the fourth quarter to close the gap to 30-17. I correctly picked Michigan Tech to win this game on the road, but I was shocked in the manner in which they won – Davenport was sleep-walking in the first half, and Michigan tech was clicking on all cylinders. For Michigan Tech, they go on the road again next week to take on Ashland, while Davenport will look to regroup for a night game at GVSU.
To Big Rapids where I’m told Ferris State was wearing their all gray uniforms. Now, I say “I’m told” because I was only able to listen to the game on the radio because Ferris State University requires a payment to watch the home games from Top Taggart Field. I’ve said my bit, but I’ll complain just one more time – it’s difficult to imagine a world in 2019 where it cost to watch a webcast, but here we are. Had I payed the fee, I would have expected a scholarship in my name at Ferris State University, and I don’t think that was going to happen, so I refuse to pay. Okay, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s move on to the important stuff – the uniforms. Rumor has it, Bulldog head coach Tony Annese wore the all gray uniforms in my honor, and as I said on twitter, I’m honored and flattered. I have to hand it to Coach Annese, he has an awesome sense of humor and I absolutely love that he did that. Of course, if I had the wealth of talent FSU did and was ranked No. 2 in the country, I’d have a great sense of humor as well. In any case, I love the friendly jabs and healthy digs from Coach Annese. Can we finally get to the game coverage?! Yes, Northwood showed a glimmer of hope early in striking first on a Jalen Lewis' one-yard carry to cap an eight-play, 75-yard drive. Ferris State came back to tie it at 7-apiece when Marvin Campbell scored from one yard out with 04:11 remaining in the first. The Bulldogs then used a strong second quarter to open up a 21-10 lead, and eventually outscored Northwood 23-7 in the second half to earn the 44-17 home win. The Bulldogs are now 7-0 while NU falls to 0-7, the worst start for the Timberwolves for as long as I can remember. Ferris State was the more talented team and came out on top handedly – I hate to be boring, but what else is there to say? Oh, the uniforms Ferris wore are still ugly, I can always say that. Northwood aims for their first win next weekend at home against Wayne State, while the Bulldogs look to remain unbeaten at home against a struggling Saginaw Valley State team.
Finally, it was a blowout in the Superior Dome when Grand Valley State handed Northern Michigan a 45-17 loss, the sixth consecutive defeat for the Wildcats. The turning point was the second quarter when the Lakers outscored NMU 21-3 in the frame to build a sizeable 35-10 advantage at the break. For GVSU, the offensive attack this week came through the air as opposed to the ground game that had been effective in weeks past. Laker’s quarterback Cole Kotopka had a big day through the air compiling 402 yards and five touchdowns to just one interception. He was awarded the GLIAC Offensive Player of the Week for his efforts. Grand Valley moves to 6-1 while Northern Michigan falls to 1-6. Again, my apologies for the boring analysis, but what else is there to say? It’s no secret to anyone that has followed the league all year – the blowout games don’t necessarily garner as much reaction – both GVSU and FSU were heavily favored and they both did the job and earned the win. The Lakers will host Davenport next weekend while NMU will regroup for a bye week.
In any case, another column has mercifully come to an end. Stay tuned for an extra special episode of GLIAC Football Weekly – Episode #8 features a special co-host, it’s going to be zopidy!