November 4th, 2019 1:00pm
Can you hear that? My friends, the sound you’re hearing are the sweet church bells from heaven ringing down the delightfully satisfying tunes of victory after a perfect 5-0 week of GLIAC ‘Pick’Em for me!
Not only was it a perfect weekend for me, but my Timberwolves also punched a W in the win-column for the first time this year, so let the church bells ring! LET THEM RING!
Okay, okay I’ll calm down for a second here, but another weekend of GLIAC football in the books, and each game played out according to plan, meaning the final two week stretch of the regular season has all the makings of a captivating and thrilling finish to determine conference supremacy.
Week nine’s closest contest was at Harvey Randall Wickes Stadium where the Cardinals fell short 24-21 against Ashland. Saginaw Valley State has been on the short-end of so many close games this season – they’ve now lost four-in-a-row, and five out of six. Of those five losses, four of them have been by a mere four points or less. On the contrary, Ashland has made its money in close games this season – in hard-to-believe fashion, the Eagle’s five conference victories this season have been by three, three, three, nine and three points. On Saturday Ashland lead for the majority of the contest, and put the nail in the coffin with a 17 play, 55 yard drive that took nine minutes and 16 seconds off the clock and culminated with a career-long 47-yard field goal by Satchel Denton to make it 24-14 with 2:27 to play in the game. Credit SVSU for coming back with a quick touchdown to close the gap to 24-21, but an unsuccessful onside kick attempt ended things at 24-21 and a win for Ashland. The Cardinals will try to bounce back next weekend on the road against Northern Michigan, while AU plays a non-conference game against an in-state opponent at Findlay.
Let’s head up north where the undefeated and second-ranked Ferris State Bulldogs took on the Michigan Tech Huskies. In classic UP conditions – snow and freezing temperatures, the Bulldogs were unphased and clobbered the Huskies 52-0. It’s easy to look at the scoreboard and conclude domination on both sides of the ball for FSU, and you’d be completely accurate in doing so, but to take it even a step further, this performance from Ferris State might be the most impressive one of the entire year. Michigan Tech is a tough team, and to go on the road in difficult weather elements the week before the biggest game of the season and string together a 52-0 performance… all I can say is wow, absolutely impressive. A sincere tip of the cap to Coach Annese for having his team so ready to play. The win also ensured FSU clinches at least a share of the GLIAC title with two more weeks to play in the regular season. Worth noting, it was senior quarterback Travis Russell and freshman Evan Cummins who combined for 381 yards passing, and 615- total yards to lead the offense. Russell had a huge day in earning GLIAC Player of the Week honors as he completed 13-of-19 passes for 323 yards while accounting for three scores in the win at Sherman Field. Jayru Campbell sat out with an injury (no word on the specifics of the injury other than it was apparently suffered earlier in the week during practice). Perhaps the best part of Russell's impactful performance was the image of him warming up shirtless in the snow.
Wow, tough or crazy? I'll let you be the judge!
In any event, the Bulldogs roll into the “Anchor-Bone Classic” undefeated and ready to take on Grand Valley State at Top Taggart Field on Saturday. For Michigan Tech, they’ll trek down to the D to play a streaking Wayne State team that has won three-in-a-row and six out of its last seven games.
Continuing on with our other UP squad, Northern Michigan was on the road at Northwood in search of its first conference win while the Timberwolves were seeking their first win of the season. Something had to give and by golly it was Northwood who rose to the occasion and pounded out the 28-10 win over the Wildcats. The best part about Northwood’s first win of the season is I can stop playing the broken record of ‘enough is enough’ and finally give kudos to my beloved alma mater. I was able to watch this contest thanks to the free webcast provided by the Northwood Sports Network, and while the final result was a thing of beauty, it wasn’t always pretty for Northwood. NMU took the opening kickoff back 43 yards to give the offense some nice field position which they eventually took advantage of for the games first score. After a 14-10 lead for Northwood at the halftime break, NU’s offense struck for a TD in the third and the fourth quarters to earn the 28-10 win. I’m happy for the guys in that program who go to work every day and give it everything they have; they know who they are. Athletics can be about as unforgiving and unfair as anything in life, and this time around they earned a much-deserved victory. As for Northern Michigan, they can say the same thing – the 2019 campaign has been a difficult journey, but perhaps their moment is coming, and they can earn a GLIAC win in the next two weeks. Northwood heads to Davenport next while the Wildcats welcome SVSU to the Superior Dome.
To Grand Rapids where Davenport was looking to end a four-game losing streak but had its hands full with a surging Wayne State team. The Warriors defense stifled the Panthers all game long to the tune of allowing just 134 yards of total offense, while WSU’s offense sustained some impressive long drives in the first half to completely take control at the break with a 28-0 lead. The second half left little to be desired with the result already in the balance, Wayne State would score one more time to make it 34-0. The touchdown was one of my favorite things in football – when a defensive lineman gets his hands on the ball and gets a chance to run! That was exactly the case when Wayne State’s senior defensive end Brady Beedon picked off a Davenport screen pass and took it back 10 yards for the touchdown. I wish he would have had more room to run before the endzone, but in any case, I love a defensive score by a lineman! It’s worth noting Davenport was without starting quarterback Deandre Ford, but in any case, the Panther offense was in shambles for the entire game with the final score ending in favor of the Warriors 34-0. For Wayne State, James Hill scored his GLIAC-leading 11th rushing TD of the season, and the shutout for the Warriors’ defense was the first in a GLIAC game since 2011 – Wayne State blanked Walsh last year 31-0. Hopes of a share of the GLIAC title are still alive in Detroit! Wayne State will host Michigan Tech on Saturday while Davenport will welcome the Northwood Timberwolves to the Farmers Insurance Athletic Complex on Saturday at noon.
To the final game of the day where the Lakers were hosting William Jewell out of the GLVC and the David-vs-Goliath matchup had all the makings of a blowout… spoiler alert – it was a complete and total blowout, GVSU had no problem with the outmatched Cardinals. At one point while watching this game I thought to myself, ‘Do I really need to be watching this game right now?’ moments later, William Jewell proceeded to punt on third down, thus confirming I no longer needed to watch the rest of the game. Please don’t take this as lazy, because I assure you I’m committed to GLIAC football coverage in every way, and I hope my work speaks to that notion, but I turned this one off at halftime when GVSU was up 28-3. This column is also about honesty and transparency – so there you have it, I was not subjecting myself to the rest of that blowout. Final score, Lakers 63, Cardinals 10. GVSU moves to 8-1 while William Jewell falls to 1-8. The most important game for the Lakers season lies ahead in the annual “Anchor-Bone” showdown on Saturday at Ferris State. The Bulldogs have owned this rivalry of late, but of course nothing would bring greater joy to GVSU faithful than spoiling Ferris State’s undefeated season and bringing the Anchor-Bone trophy back to Allendale, and possibly earning a share of the GLIAC title. I’ll save the rest for the week 10 preview.
Quickly before I mercifully end the column – The latest Super Region Three rankings have been released. The University of Indianapolis lost to Lindenwood on Saturday, meaning they are no longer undefeated. Previously, the Greyhounds were No. 3 in the region and No.7 in the AFCA Coaches Poll, but after the loss, UIndy falls to No. 5 in the region, but still the Greyhounds are ahead of Grand Valley who stays at No. 6. Regardless, the final two weeks will obviously dictate who ends up making the playoffs, but one thing for sure is Super Region Three is loaded! I’ll touch on this more in this week’s episode of GLIAC Football Weekly.
Oh happy day, this column has come to an end and before I let you all go, remember, week nine will live on forever as my first undefeated week of the season. Rock on!