BIG RAPIDS, Mich. - The SVSU Cardinal football team traveled to Ferris State University for a matchup between the top two teams in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) North Division. The Cardinals, helped by four turnovers, two of which were timely interceptions by senior cornerback DeAngelo Parris (Clinton Twp., Mich./Warren De La Salle), came-out with a 31-28 victory to take-over solo possession of the GLIAC North lead.
SVSU capitalized on an early Ferris turnover, as sophomore Sean Wren (Mason, Mich.) forced a fumble on a punt return that was recovered by fellow sophomore Keenan Smith (Detroit, Mich./Cass Tech) at the Bulldog two yard line. The Cardinals weren't able to punch the ball into the endzone, but a 20-yard field goal by junior Scott Stanford (Novi, Mich.) gave SVSU a 3-0 lead at the 7:17 mark in the first quarter.
After Ferris's next drive resulted in a punt, SVSU took-over at their own 44 yard line. A 39-yard pass completion from senior Jonathon Jennings (Columbus, Ohio/Westerville South) to senior wide receiver Jeff Janis (Tawas City, Mich./Tawas Area) would set-up an eventual 1-yard quarterback draw rushing TD from Jennings, making the score 10-0 after a Stanford extra-point.
On the next possession for the Bulldogs, junior defensive end Will Schwarz (Troy, Mich.) forced a fumble on a sack that was recovered by junior linebacker Major Metcalf (Muskegon, Mich./Catholic Central). Metcalf returned it the remaining 42 yards for another Cardinal touchdown, making the lead 17-0 for the Cardinals with 13:51 remaining in the first half.
After the next drive by FSU was turned over on downs at the SVSU 7 yard line, Saginaw Valley put together a 15-play, 93-yard scoring drive that used 7:55 of the game clock. The drive was finished-off by a one-yard touchdown run by senior Mark Mays (Dayton, Ohio/Bowling Green), his team-leading fifth of the season. The PAT made the Cardinal advantage 24-0 with 1:51 left in the first half.
The Bulldogs put together a quick 79-yard drive, aided by a 52-yard pass play to set-up a 4-yard touchdown run by Kitwana Clark, cutting the lead to 24-7 with just 32 seconds left in the opening half.
That is where the score would remain heading into halftime, as a holding penalty negated a long run by senior Norman Shuford (Farmington Hills, Mich./GVSU) that would have given the Cardinals a first down at the 50 yardline, putting them close to field goal range for Stanford.
Jennings connected on 11 of his 14 pass attempts in the opening half for 146 yards. Janis had seven catches for 118 yards in the opening 30 minutes of play. Senior Brian Johnson (Muskegon, Mich./Catholic Central) and sophomore Trevor Blattner (Battle Creek, Mich./Harper Creek) each had five tackles in the first half.
Ferris took the opening drive of the second half 75 yards on 15 plays, using 7:10 of the clock. The drive ended with a scoring pass play from Jason Vander Laan to Jace Heneveld.
After the two teams traded punts, the Cardinals took-over from its own 14 yardline. Fifteen plays and 86 yards later, Jennings hit junior tight end Andrew Dillon (Ypsilanti, Mich./Lincoln) for a 7-yard scoring play. It was Dillon's fourth catch of the drive and second-career TD catch.
The Bulldogs responded quick, however, putting-together a scoring drive of their own, as Vander Laan passed to Phil Annese for a 6-yard touchdown. That made the SVSU lead 31-21 with 8:01 left after the successful PAT.
With Ferris facing a third and goal from the six yardline on its next drive, Parris broke on a route and picked-off Vander Laan. That ended a great scoring opportunity for the Bulldogs.
The Cardinals punted the ball back to the Bulldogs after eating just 1:40 off the clock following the turnover, giving Ferris the ball back at the SVSU 40 yardline. Vander Laan would hook-up with Annese for a big pass play that set-up a 2-yard rushing TD of his own. That made the score 31-28 in favor of the Cardinals with 2:46 remaining in the contest.
The Bulldogs were out of timeouts as the Cardinals took over at the Ferris 49 following an un-successful onside kick.
SVSU was unable to get a first down and end the game, so a punt gave Ferris the ball back at its own 19 yardline with 26 ticks left on the clock.
After a pair of completions by the Bulldogs, a deep pass attempt from Vander Laan with 10 seconds left resulted in Parris's second interception of the game, ending the chance of a last-second comeback effort.
The Cardinals kneeled on the ball to drain what time was left on the clock, closing-out for the 31-28 victory.
Parris claimed the Meijer "Player of the Game" honors for his two timely interceptions that helped seal the victory.
SVSU edged the Bulldogs in the turnover category, 4-0.
Jennings finished the game 19-of-26 for 229 yards and a touchdown passing.
Janis hauled-in a game-high 10 catches for 161 yards. Dillon finished with five catches for 40 yards and a score.
The Cardinals managed just 45 yards rushing, but scored twice on runs by Jennings and Mays.
Johnson and senior safety Jon Bryant (Detroit, Mich./Oak Park) each had 10 tackles defensively for Saginaw Valley. Schwarz added 3.5 tackles-for-loss, including 1.5 sacks.
Metcalf had six tackles and the big fumble return for a touchdown. Blattner and junior David Toussaint (Lauderdale Lakes, Fla.) each added eight stops for the Cardinals.
With the victory, Saginaw Valley improves to 4-1 overall with an unblemished 4-0 mark in the GLIAC. Ferris State falls to 3-2 overall and 3-1 in league play.
SVSU returns home Saturday (Oct. 12) for a 7:00 pm kickoff against rival Northwood University. The game is part of Saginaw Valley's weekend homecoming festivities.