Grand Valley State took the lead early in the fourth quarter, then held off Ferris State in a back-and-forth 38-34 victory Saturday in a Division II regional football final at Top Taggart Field in Big Rapids.
Bart Williams completed 20 of 34 passes for 335 yards and four touchdowns for the No. 6-seeded Lakers, who got the victory despite the second-seeded Bulldogs getting more first downs, 30-23, and total yards, 492-447.
Grand Valley (11-2) advances to a national quarterfinal matchup next Saturday against Colorado State-Pueblo (11-1).
Jason Vander Laan was 24-of-40 passing for 281 yards and five touchdowns and ran for 126 yards for Ferris State (11-1) .
Both quarterbacks threw a pair of interceptions.
Ferris State won the coin toss and elected to kick off, and Grand Valley went 82 yards for a touchdown, Williams completing a screen pass to Kirk Spencer for 9 yards to cap the drive. Spencer also ran for 77 yards.
Vander Laan’s 35-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Agurs got Ferris State even with 3:33 left in the first quarter.
The Lakers quickly answered when Bart Williams hit Matt Williams (five catches, 126 yards) on a 66-yard TD strike just nine seconds into the second quarter.
Vander Laan connected with Shakur Sanders for a 7-yard touchdown to even the score at 14-14 with 9:18 left in the quarter.
Grand Valley went up 17-14 on a 45-yard field goal by Joel Schipper with 6:28 left in the half.
Ferris State answered with a 78-yard TD drive, capped by Vander Laan’s 35-yard strike to JaJuan Pollock, but Grand Valley went up 24-20 at the half on a 30-yard TD pass from Williams to Urston Smith (four catches, 108 yards).
A 30-yard punt return by Jaleel Canty set Ferris State up at the Grand Valley 23 early in the second half, and Vander Laan hit Agurs for a touchdown on the first play.
The Bulldogs held that 27-24 lead until Marty Carter ran 11 yards for a touchdown with 6:02 left in the third quarter, giving the Lakers a 31-27 advantage.
But Vander Laan threw another touchdown pass with 11:54 to play in the fourth quarter, a 10-yarder to Jamel Lockett (nine catches, 87 yards) that put Ferris State back on top, 34-31.
Still, Grand Valley wasn’t done. Bart Williams hit Matt Williams for a 1-yard touchdown with 8:30 to play to finish the scoring.