Ferris sweeps through Grand Valley in playoff win

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BIG RAPIDS – It was a snowy, but sunny day for Ferris State football.

The No.1-ranked Bulldogs took advantage of five Grand Valley turnovers, converted on key offensive plays and used tormented defense for a NCAA 54-20 Division II second round victory on Saturday at the Top. Taggart Field.

The 11-0 Bulldogs will host a quarterfinal game on Saturday as the season ends for the Lakers 10-2.

“I don’t want to apologize for Grand Valley, but we had a week off for our first game with them and another week off before that game,” said Ferris coach Tony Annese. “It allowed (the coaches) to put more together. It helped us do things against them in reaction to the first game. Grand Valley probably didn’t have that long to do it.

Ferris didn’t have any turnovers and showed quickly on snowy terrain and against light snowfall what they wanted to do against rivals they beat 35-28 in the regular season.


In the third game of the game, quarterback Jared Bernhardt rushed for 65 yards for a touchdown.

Grand Valley retaliated with a 79-yard touchdown with Cade Peterson passing 6 yards to Bryce Young-Walls for a 7-7 draw.

Ferris then posted 20 unanswered points. Bernhardt scored a 1-yard TD at the end of the first quarter and on the opening play of the second he passed 76 yards to Marcus Taylor for a touchdown.

At 12:19, Ferris took a 28-7 lead on a short fourth touchdown pass 20 yards from Bernhardt, who found Mason Pliny wide open in the middle for a 22-yard touchdown pass. The PAT test failed and it was 27-7.

The Bulldogs were driving late in the first half when Bernhardt was injured and left the field and did not return. Sy Barnett’s 27-yard field goal was good for a 30-7.1 lead. He kicked a 40-yard field on the last play of the half for a 33-7 lead.

A Grand Valley fumble led to a 32-yard Bulldog TD early in the second half with Mylik Mitchell running it from 13 yards for a 40-7 lead.

An interception of Ferris by Cyntell Williams, the team’s fourth of the game, stopped a GV halfway in the third.

Grand Valley got the ball at Ferris 3 after an illegal kick against the Bulldogs and Jack Provencher threw it on the next game for a Laker touchdown, to make it 40-13 at 1:36.

Less than a minute into the fourth, Mitchell passed 3 yards to Marcus Taylor for a 34-point lead.

Taylor’s 59-yard punt return at GV 3 led to a TD in FSU quarterback Evan Cummins’ next play.

Cade Peterson threw Hunter Rison 15 yards for a 15-yard pass with 6:17 left to make it 54-20.

Ferris had a 532-276 advantage in total yards. Bernhardt had 166 yards and rushed for 117 in just half the action, Mitchell added 53 rushing yards and 66 passing yards. Taylor has four catches for 115 yards and Xavier Wade has six for 91.

Cyntel Williams led Ferris’ defense with four tackles and no interceptions. GV was 0 out of 10 on third-down conversions

“I’m proud of my team and the state of Northwest Missouri,” Annese said. “I guess they have to come here, which is good. We have a hell of a rivalry with them. We played them in ’16, ’18 and ’19 and beat them twice in a row. They are going to be tough.

Annese is now 10-2 against Grand Valley in her coaching career.

“I think the game got away from us in the first quarter,” said Grand Valley coach Matt Mitchell. “We came out of what we were able to do in the first game (against Ferris), which was to throw the ball. The score got to the point where we had to throw it more than we would have liked to throw it. We only had 66 rushing yards. We had too many turnovers on the offensive end of the ball.

The attendance was 3,742 people.

“People who aren’t from Michigan think we’re used to snow,” Annese said. “This is the biggest snow game I have ever coached on this peninsula. We have been to the upper peninsula and played a few snow games. It’s difficult and I think we handled it very well.


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