DII Roundup: Ferris State pulls fourth-quarter comeback to beat Walsh 46-42

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No. 4 Ferris 46, Walsh 42

Big Rapids, Mich. — Ferris State capped off an unbeaten regular-season and claimed the outright Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship with an improbable 46-42 comeback win against Walsh in the regular-season finale on Saturday in Canton, Ohio.

The Bulldogs rallied back from a 35-24 deficit in the final quarter with three touchdown drives and several key stops from the defensive unit to beat Walsh at Fawcett Stadium.

With the win, Ferris State capped off its first 11-0 regular-season. The GLIAC title was FSU’s first since 1999 and first outright crown since 1996.

Bulldogs quarterback Jason Vander Laan completed 18 of 27 passes for 260 yards and two scores while also running for a game-high 101 yards and three TD’s. He also became the school’s all-time career rusher in the contest.

Overall, Ferris State tallied 521 yards of toal offense and ran for 261 yards on the ground. Walsh had 456 total yards, including 315 through the air as the opened up the playbook in the season finale.

Seniors Darnell Morris and Corey Stone led the Bulldog defense with seven stops apiece.

No. 1 Minnesota State-Mankato 45, Upper Iowa 14

MANKATO, Minn. –Minnesota State-Mankato defeated Upper Iowa 45-14 to claim its second NSIC Championship in as many seasons.

With the win, MSU improves to 11-0 on the season, while Upper Iowa finishes its season with a 6-5 record. The Mavericks have now won 33 consecutive NSIC games dating back to week one of the 2012 season. This is the third consecutive season MSU has completed a perfect 11-0 regular season.

Minnesota State started off fast as it marched right down the field on its opening possession that was capped off by a 22-yard touchdown run from senior Andy Pfeiffer. Upper Iowa would respond quickly as Cole Jaeschke threw a pair of touchdown passes in the first quarter to give the Peacocks a 14-7 lead at the end of the first.

It would be all Mavericks from the second quarter on as MSU scored 38 unanswered points to claim a 45-14 win.

Sophomore Ricky Lloyd knotted up the score with a one-yard touchdown run with 14:37 left in the second quarter, before redshirt freshman Nick Pierucciniran in a touchdown run from 32 yards out to give the Mavericks a 21-14 lead. Junior Alden Haffar added a 20-yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter to give the Mavericks a 24-14 lead heading into the half.

On MSU’s first drive of the third quarter senior Dorian Buford caught his 13th touchdown pass of the season off a 12-yard pass from Pieruccini. Buford is now tied with Tywan Mitchell for the second-most touchdown catches in a season at MSU.

No. 2 Minnesota-Duluth 56, Minot State 0

Minnesota-Duluth put the finishing touches on its fifth unbeaten, regular season in program history by rolling past Minot State 56-0 Saturday afternoon in Minot, N.D. The shut out, UMD’s second against the Beavers in as many years pushed the Bulldogs’ overall record to 11-0 and gave them a share of their league-record 19th NSIC title. In addition, UMD all but locked up a spot in the 24-team playoff field, which will be announced Sunday afternoon.

UMD closed out the day with 405 yards of total offense and held the 1-10 Beavers to just 85 overall yards on 45 plays. The Bulldogs got touchdowns from six different players, including sophomore Beau Bofferding, who ran for one score and was on the receiving end of two scoring strikes from sophomore quarterback Drew Bauer. Sophomore running back Caleb Belknap came off the bench to rush for a game-high and career-best 83 yards on 16 carries and registered his first touchdown as a Bulldog. Logan Lauters, one of nine Bulldogs to carry the ball Saturday, ran 14 times for 72 yards. Minot State, meanwhile, was held to a -minus 5 yards on the ground.

Bauer connected on six of 11 passes for 80 yards and one touchdown before being relieved in the second half by junior Eric Kline, who threw for 54 yards while going 4 of 5 and like Bauer.

Junior inside linebacker Brent Stiglich paced UMD defensively with six total tackles.

No. 3 Lenoir-Rhyne 27, Catabwa 21

Hickory, N.C. — Lenoir-Rhyne (11-0, 7-0) finished the regular season unbeaten for the first time in 52 years with a 27-21 win against Catawba (6-5, 3-4) Saturday afternoon in a South Atlantic Conference game at Moretz Stadium.

Lenoir-Rhyne senior fullback Chris Robinson rushed for a game-high 130 yards and a touchdown while senior quarterback Miles Freeman added two scores on the ground as the Bears beat the Indians for the sixth consecutive year.

The Bears, the nation’s top rushing team in NCAA Division II, finished with 361 yards on the ground and won for the 13th consecutive time at home. Lenoir-Rhyne has also won 21 consecutive regular season games and improved to 24-1 in its past 25 contests.

Freeman scored two touchdowns on the ground in the second and third quarters, respectively, while junior defensive back Chris Shaffer picked off a pass to end the game for the Bears.

Lenoir-Rhyne junior running back Michael Patrick added 96 yards on the ground while senior linebacker Tanner Botts and sophomore defensive lineman Chris Green finished with seven tackles each in the win. Green also recovered a fumble and registered a quarterback sack in the victory.

Slippery Rock 28, No. 5 Bloomsburg 26

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. — For the second consecutive year Bloomsburg faced off with Slippery Rock in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference Championship Game, and for the second consecutive year the squads delivered an instant classic.

Unfortunately for the Huskies, this year’s edition saw a late rally by Bloomsburg fall just short in a 28-26 defeat at Mihalik-Thompson Stadium.

This time around, the Bloomsburg defense forced three second half turnovers — five in all — but could not overcome a 14-point fourth quarter hole while suffering its first loss of the year. Now 10-1 overall, the fifth-ranked Huskies will await their NCAA Playoff fate with the Selection Show scheduled for Sunday evening at 5 p.m. Slippery Rock (9-2) hopes its win will be enough to vault into the national playoff bracket after entering the day ranked eighth in Super Region One.

Tim Kelly finished with career highs in completions (21), attempts (42) and passing yards (293) while Lawrence Elliott Jr. did likewise in both receptions (five) and receiving yards (102). Chad Hoffman also had a career-best six grabs for 84 yards while D.J. McFadden caught three passes for 52 yards.

No. 6 Pittsburg State 41, Central Oklahoma 14

EDMOND, Okla. — Sixth-ranked Pittsburg State scored on the opening drive of the game and built a 17-0 second quarter lead en route to a 41-14 victory against Central Oklahoma Saturday.

The victory gave Pitt State (10-1, 10-1 Mid-America Intercollegiate Athletics Association) a share of its 12th MIAA Championship and the Gorillas 31st all-time conference title. Pitt State shares the MIAA crown with seventh-ranked Northwest Missouri State.

Pitt State posted its school record 20th consecutive road victory dating back to the 2010 season with the victory against UCO (8-3, 8-3 MIAA).

Quarterback Anthony Abenoja completed 21 of 29 passes for 290 yards and one touchdown for the Gorillas, who also rushed for a season-best 241 yards.

Wide receiver Marquise Cushon had a 44-yard touchdown run on a jet sweep play in the second quarter and also hauled in a 10-yard TD grab from Abenoja on the opening drive of the third period. He finished the game with four catches for 68 yards and added four rushes for a team-leading 88 yards.

Running back Michael Rose added 10 carries for 57 yards, including a one-yard TD run that gave the Gorillas a 27-7 advantage with 1:24 remaining in the second quarter.

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