BIG RAPIDS - The Saginaw Valley State University football team hit the road for the third time of the 2015 season, this time traveling to play the #4 team in the nation in the Ferris State University Bulldogs. Facing the defending GLIAC champions and the returning Harlon Hill Trophy award winner in Jason Vander Laan, the Cardinals held Ferris to their lowest point output since November 8, 2014 in a tough 35-18 loss at Ferris's Top Taggart Field.
The Cardinals jumped right out in front for the second straight game, as they received the opening kickoff and marched it right down the field 82 yards on 11 plays for a touchdown. The score was a 26-yard pass connection from Brad Odeman Jr. to Marq Johnson and it was Johnson's first career score for SVSU. A blocked extra-point made the lead just 6-0 for Saginaw Valley.
Ferris responded on its next drive and used a 10-play, 69 yard drive to score a touchdown of its own. A successful PAT gave the home team a 7-6 lead at the 6:14 marker of the first quarter.
The Bulldogs then held SVSU to a three-and-out drive that lasted just 21 seconds and got the ball back from their own 35. They would capitalize on that and make the score 14-6 with another score and successful point after. Ferris added another touchdown following a Cardinal punt and pushed the lead out to 21-6 fresh into the second quarter with the clock showing 14:55.
SVSU's next drive stalled after 10 plays and the Cards punted the ball away, but the kick bounced off a Ferris State defender and the fumble was recovered by SVSU's Ryan Verhelst at the Bulldog 13-yardline, giving the visitors prime field position.
The Cardinals would capitalize that fine position and convert it into a touchdown when Odeman capped the short drive with a QB draw off a nice playaction fake to make the score 21-12 after the short touchdown run. The second PAT try for SVSU was blocked too, however, and returned by Ferris State for a two-point conversion of their own to make the score 23-12.
SVSU's defense had the Bulldogs's next drive stalled with a fourth and six to go from the Ferris 47 but the home squad pulled out a trick play on a fake punt pass. The play was converted into a gain of 27 yards all the way to the SV 26-yardline. The Bulldogs would punch it into the endzone five plays later to make the lead 29-12. The home team went for two and couldn't convert but the late first half score sent both teams into the locker room with Ferris leading, 29-12.
Odeman had 133 yards through the air in the first half with a TD pass and run for the Cards. Drew Herrell had 47 first half rushing yards while Max Corcoran had three grabs for 42 yards and Johnson had a pair for 42 yards and the score.
The SV defense held Vander Laan to just 67 yards rushing in the half and 87 yards through the air.
Matt McKoy had seven stops defensively for the Cardinal defense in the opening 30 minutes of action.
The teams traded punts twice to open the second frame and it wasn't until Ferris got another touchdown with just 2:08 to play in the third quarter that a team scored. That touchdown, coupled with a missed extra point from Ferris, made the score 35-12.
The Cardinals pushed the ball into Bulldog territory their next drive all the way to the 28-yardline. Facing a tough fourth and seven situation, Odeman went for Johnson in the corner of the endzone but the pass sailed out of bounds and the ball turned over the Ferris State.
FSU responded with a solid drive of its own but it resulted in a missed field goal that gave the ball right back to SV trailing by 23 with 9:17 to play.
After SVSU's next drive ended in a punt, the Cardinal defense, aided by several Bulldog penalties, had Ferris State pinned back facing a fourth down and 49 to go and punting from their own 5. That's when Michael Alexander came up big for SVSU, getting through to block the punt and it was scooped-up by Spencer Treadwell, who made a couple moves and barreled forward into the endzone for a touchdown. That cut the Ferris lead to 35-18. The Cards went for a two-point conversion to cut the deficit to 15 points but the pass attempt fell incomplete with the clock showing 4:16 remaining.
After a slightly muffed pooch kick that Alexander almost recovered for the Cardinal kick team, Ferris got the ball back and would eventually run out the clock after picking up a pair of first downs to make the final score 35-18.
SVSU finished with 279 yards of total offense, 206 via the air for Odeman with a TD pass. Johnson had 82 yards receiving on three catches with a score while Corcoran had five grabs for 64 yards. Herrell led the ground game with 66 yard on 14 carries.
Bryan Jones had 11 stops defensively while McKoy reached double-digits in the department as well with 10. McKoy added a tackle-for-loss and was named the Meijer "Player of the Game" for his performance. Sam Quinn chipped-in with nine tackles for the Cardinal defense.
SVSU limited the Bulldog offense to their lowest output of the season with 442 yards. Vander Laan, who had been averaging just under 370 yards through the air and 118 on the ground, was held to 220 and 88, respectively.
Saginaw Valley State (0-4, 0-3 GLIAC) continues on the road next Saturday (10/3) looking to notch its first victory against Northern Michigan University in a 4:00 p.m. matchup at the Superior Dome in Marquette. Ferris State (3-0, 3-0 GLIAC) will play at Findlay in its next contest. The Cardinals topped the Wildcats by a score of 14-7 in the 2014 matchup at SVSU's Wickes Stadium.
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