GAME TWO RECAP: FERRIS STATE 25, ASHLAND 24
FSU Pulls Out Late Win To Remain Unbeaten
A potential game-winning 32-yard field goal try by the nationally-ranked Ashland Eagles was blocked as time expired as the Ferris State University football team pulled out a thrilling 25-24 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (GLIAC) triumph Saturday (Sept. 6) afternoon at Community Stadium in Ashland, Ohio.
Following a Bulldog touchdown drive in the closing minute, AU took advantage of a long kickoff return into Ferris territory and moved the ball inside the FSU 20-yard line with 3.4 seconds remaining. However, Greg Berkshire's field goal try was blocked by Bulldog senior middle linebacker Kevin Noe as the horn sounded, giving the Bulldogs' special teams unit a big stop to preserve the victory in the league opener for both teams.
The win was FSU's fourth-straight victory at Community Stadium against the Eagles, who were ranked 24th in this past week's national poll and picked to finish second in the league standings. FSU remains unbeaten (2-0, 1-0 GLIAC) with the win while the Eagles dropped to 0-2 (0-1 GLIAC) overall this season.
Following a scoreless third period, the Bulldogs took a 19-17 lead with 12:32 remaining in the contest on senior kicker Jim Yates' 24-yard field goal after an 82-yard offensive drive on 14 plays.
The Eagles responded with only 4:19 left in the game as Johnny Long hauled in a 34-yard strike from quarterback Billy Cundiff to cap off a 62-yard march for Ashland.
The Bulldog offense stepped up to the challenge, though, and came up with the go-ahead score as junior back Dan Underhill found paydirt from two yards out with only 37 seconds to go in the game. FSU started the drive in Eagle territory on the heels of a long kickoff return from sophomore Tim Hogue and the Bulldogs denefited from a couple Ashland penalties to keep the 39-yard scoring drive alive.
The two teams combined for only 16 points in the final half after the host team had taken a 17-16 halftime edge in a back-and-forth opening period of play.
In the first half, the Bulldogs opened the scoring on their initial drive as redshirt freshman quarterback Tom Schneider scampered in from one-yard out to cap an eight-play drive covering 65 yards only four minutes into the contest.
However, the Eagles responded and took advantage of several Bulldog miscues to take a 10-6 lead. Cundiff netted the first TD on a two-yard scoring run at the 7:32 mark of the opening frame after a short 35-yard drive set up by a FSU fumble in a punt return situation. Then, Berkshire converted a 45-yard field goal only 1:03 into the second quarter.
Ferris answered with an eight-play, 69-yard scoring march capped by a five-yard TD run from Hogue with 10:30 to play in the initial half.
AU caught a break again late in the first period as FSU fumbled a punt snap, giving the Eagles the ball at the Ferris 12-yard line. From there, Cundiff found Long two plays later on an eight-yard scoring toss as Ashland took a 17-13 advantage.
The Bulldogs ended the first half by closing within a single point (17-16) on a 42-yard field goal from Yates after a 51-yard drive that took 11 plays.
Ferris' touchdown in the final minute combined with the blocked field goal try at the end enabled the Bulldogs to escape with their second-straight win by two points or less to open their 100th season.
Ferris finished the game with 330 total offensive yards and 25 first downs compared to 312 yards and 24 first downs for the Eagles. The Bulldogs had 179 rushing yards on 47 attempts while Schneider completed 11-of-27 passes for 151 yards.
Cundiff was 19-of-37 in the air for 226 yards and two scores for Ashland, which finished with only 86 yards on the ground against the Bulldog defense.
Defensively, senior All-American Jake Visser finished with 12 tackles (nine solo) to go with one sack and one tackle for loss along with a fumble recovery for the Bulldogs. Senior outside linebacker Jordan Moore netted a game-high 14 stops (nine solo) and Noe chipped in with nine tackles (seven solo) in addition to the game-winning block. It marked the second consecutive contest in which Noe came up with a big play to clinch the win following his tackle in the backfield on a similar game-winning field goal attempt at Tiffin last week.
Ferris State will host the Findlay Oilers in their 2008 home opener Saturday, Sept. 13, at Top Taggart Field in Big Rapids, Mich. Kickoff for the Community, Fireworks and Health Care night contest is set for 7 p.m. (EDT).