December 9th, 2019 5:00pm
For the third time in four years, the Ferris State Bulldogs are playing in the NCAA Division II National Semifinals.
Ferris State topped third-seeded Northwest Missouri State 25-3 on Saturday at Top Taggart Field to earn a second consecutive Super Region Three title. The win marked the 14th consecutive win at home for the Bulldogs, the longest home-winning streak in the country.
Saturday’s regional final showed once again how complete of a team the top-ranked Bulldogs are – smothering defense, effective special teams, and an opportunistic offense that wore down its opponent in the second half. Forgive me for the broken record routine, but I can’t find a weakness in this team, and once again, the Bulldogs were dancing to victory as the clocked ticked down to zero.
Heading into this matchup we knew it would be a defensive struggle, and the first half proved to be exactly that. Ferris State lead 3-0 after the first half, but the Bulldog offense started to hit its stride more in the second half, and with significant contributions from Jackson Dieterle and the field goal unit connecting on three total field goals, it was enough to seize control of the contest.
Yes, it was a total team effort for FSU, but the defense deserves the bulk of the recognition. The Northwest Missouri State offense never stood a chance – Ferris State’s defense held the Bearcat offense to only 158 yards on 61 plays for an average of 2.5 yards per play. Furthermore, the defense added a little cherry on top in the form of an Austin Edwards sack in the endzone resulting in two points for the Bulldogs on the safety. When Dieterle hit his second field goal of the game to put Ferris State up 13-3 early in the fourth quarer, I felt that lead was insurmountable given how the defense was playing. As it played out, that proved to be the case, but the FSU offense stayed on the gas to tally a few more scores and the comfortable margin-of-victory.
Thinking back to when the playoffs began, I felt strongly about Super Region Three being the toughest region of the four regions, and I still feel that way. Now, I’m certainly not saying Ferris State can simply flip on cruise control and coast to a title, but the Bulldogs first two victories of these playoffs have been incredibly impressive. The run the Bulldogs are on is nothing short of astonishing, and that’s coming from one of their toughest critics.
Now that the remaining field of four has been re-seeded, Ferris State boasts the top seed of the final four, and are certainly the favorite to win it all. However, the Bulldogs next opponent is responsible for knocking out the number one team in all of D2 in defending champion Valdosta State. The West Florida Argonauts captured the Super Region Two title with its win over No. 2 Lenoir-Rhyne on Saturday. More on the Argonauts later this week and of course on this week’s episode of GLIAC Football Weekly.
As the final weeks of the season in Division 2 unfold, Ferris State is that much closer to its ultimate goal of bringing a National Championship to Big Rapids. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, a natty is the only thing missing from the incredibly decorated list of accomplishments in the Tony Annese era, and the Bulldogs are halfway there.