UNIVERSITY CENTER, Mich. - The Saginaw Valley State University football team lost its first Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) contest of 2013 in the team's regular season finale and annual Battle of the Valleys rivalry game with Grand Valley State University.
The Cardinals, who entered the game with a 9-0 mark in league play and had already wrapped-up the outright GLIAC North Division crown, fell by a score of 49-34 to the Lakers on Saturday afternoon (Nov. 16).
Saginaw Valley got on the board first in the clash between the top two teams in the North Division. It took the game's opening drive 68 yards down field and struck a 3-0 lead after junior kicker Scott Stanford booted a 24 yard field goal.
The Lakers responded quickly, grabbing a 7-3 lead after a 28 yard pass play on the ensuing drive.
SVSU ate-up some clock on its next drive, using 5:35 on 13 plays and getting another Stanford field goal, this one from 37 yards out, to cut the GVSU lead to 7-6 with 2:53 left in the first quarter.
The Cards got the lead back at the 11:06 mark in the second quarter, as they only took 58 seconds to go 41 yards and senior quarterback Jonathon Jennings capped-off the drive with a 19 yard touchdown run. That made the score 13-7 in their favor.
Grand Valley's next drive ended in a touchdown pass from Heath Parling to Jamie Potts, the duo's second of the game, giving it a 14-13 advantage.
Saginaw answered back to take a 20-14 lead after Jennings scored again on the ground, this time from 14 yards out with 2:56 left in the half.
The ensuing drive saw the Lakers take the ball down the field and score with just 24 seconds left before the half, giving them a one point advantage at 21-20.
The next SVSU drive started at its own 42 yard line with just over 20 seconds until the half. A couple of pass plays to senior wideout Jeff Janis set the Cardinals up with the ball at the 36 yard line and four seconds left. A 53 yard field goal attempt by Stanford sailed wide left as time expired, and that 21-20 lead stood for the Lakers heading into the break.
Grand Valley opened the second half with a scoring drive to extend its lead to 28-20 on a Chris Robinson TD run.
Saginaw Valley would answer back, however, and make the score 28-27 after senior running back Norman Shuford scored on a one yard run at the 9:05 marker in the third quarter.
The Lakers pushed the lead back to eight after Erik Thompson returned the ensuing kickoff 76 yards for a touchdown.
The Cardinals had their second special teams mistake on their next drive, as their punt attempt was blocked by GV's Alton Voss, giving the Lakers the ball at the SV 24.
The first play of the Laker drive was a 24 yard touchdown pass, which extended their lead to 42-27 with 7:33 left in the third quarter.
After the Cards turned the ball over on downs, Grand Valley took over and scored on a one yard Chris Robinson TD run to make the score 49-27 just into the fourth quarter with 14:51 remaining.
SVSU marched 74 yards downfield on its next drive and used Jennings' third touchdown rush of the game to cut the Grand Valley lead to 49-34 with 8:33 left.
Cardinal senior linebacker Brian Johnson picked-off a pass on the Lakers' next drive, giving SVSU the ball at the Grand Valley 45.
Saginaw Valley gave the ball right back though, as a Jennings pass to begin the drive was intercepted by GV's Charles Hill.
The Cards received the ball back with 5:26 on the clock after a GV punt and drove the ball down to the Laker 26. Facing a fourth and five, an incomplete pass turned the ball back over with just 3:39 left in the game.
The Lakers ran 3:11 off the clock on the drive and punted the ball to SVSU with 28 seconds left. The Cardinals made a final effort, but time was not on their side as the clock turned to zeros and the game ended with the score 49-34 in Grand Valley's favor.
Saginaw Valley totaled 573 yards of total offense on 100 total plays, 306 coming through the air and 267 via the ground game.
Jennings was named the Meijer "Player of the Game" for his performance in the regular season finale. He rushed for 121 yards on 17 attempts with three touchdowns and added 306 yards passing.
Shuford surpassed the 1,000 yard mark for the season, rushing 22 times for 88 yards and a score. He now has 1,074 yards for the 2013 campaign with five touchdowns.
Janis had a game-high 10 receptions for 122 yards in the contest.
Stanford had the two field goals and was 4-of-4 on extra point attempts. That gives the junior 57 successful PAT's on the season, which breaks the former single season record of 53 that he tied last week against Northern Michigan.
Johnson led the defensive effor once again for SVSU, tallying nine tackles with a sack and his third interception of the season. He has finished the regular seson with 110 stops and three interceptions.
Junior David Toussaint added six tackles from the cornerback position.
Saginaw Valley falls to 9-2 overall on the season and finished its GLIAC schedule with a 9-1 record and third-straight GLIAC North Championship. The Cardinals, who entered the game as the #3 seed in Super Region Four, will now await their postseason fate after the loss as the NCAA Division II Selection Show will take place Sunday at 5:00 pm. The top six teams in the region advance to the playoffs. The show can be viewed live at NCAA.com.