Division II football: Jayru Campbell, Ferris State coast into national semifinals
Jayru Campbell returned.
And if his Ferris State football team broke a sweat Saturday, it didn't show in a 37-14 victory over Ouachita State (Ark.) on the road in the Division II quarterfinals.
The Bulldogs (14-0) rushed for 356 yards in advancing to next week's semifinals. Next up: at Minnesota State-Mankato (13-0), at 3 p.m. next Saturday. Notre Dame (Ohio) plays at Valdosta State at noon in the other semifinal, with the title game Dec. 15.
"It's thrilling," Ferris State coach Tony Annese said. "You know, you kind of set your course at the beginning of the year thinking you have a chance to do a little bit in the playoffs. Now, winning three games, and an opportunity to play one more to get to the national championship game, that's why you do all the work in the offseason."
This will be Ferris State's third trip to the semifinals. It's never made the final.
Campbell, the former Detroit Cass Tech star and redshirt junior, had to sit last week's game, returned from a sprained left (non-throwing) shoulder and threw for 128 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 47 more yards.
He didn't practice Tuesday or Wednesday, but when the team arrived in the warmer weather of Little Rock, Ark., on Thursday, he felt better.
And it showed Saturday.
"He made it through great," Annese said. "We kind of pulled him early (fourth quarter) so he didn't have to take too many hits. I'm sure he's a little sore, but he played a great game."
Sophomore Marvin Campbell (Detroit Loyola) rushed for 75 yards to lead a balanced ground attack, added a TD for No. 2-ranked Ferris State, which is seeking its first national championship.
Junior Travis Russell rushed for 68 and senior Robert Thomas 61 and a touchdown as Ferris State rode the ground game on a wildly windy day — straight out of the end zones.
Redshirt freshman Sy Barnett had four catches for 51 yards and a TD, and senior Derrick Portis also rushed for a TD, a 14-yard scamper to break the early scoreless tie.
Ferris State steamrolled Ouachita from the get-go, racking up a 27-0 halftime lead. The first half featured a key blocked punt by Bulldogs redshirt freshman Issa Khalil from Dearborn. That led to Ferris State's second score of the half.
Ferris State sophomroe Sam Heyboer also had a big interception late in the second quarter to extend its lead to four scores.
"That was a huge play," Annese said.
Ouachita State had its best season in program history, and finished the season 12-1 in Arkadelphia.
Ouachita State was limited to 281 total yards of offense, most coming through the air as it got behind and had to turn to the pass. Brayden Brazeal threw for 195 yards and rushed for 48, and Allie Freeman had 10 catches for 115 yards.
"Both sides' front lines were really the key to our success," Annese said.
Other Division II action, Notre Dame (Ohio) beat Slippery Rock, 21-17; Valdosta State beat Lenoir-Rhyne, 61-21; and Minnesota State-Mankato beat Tarleton State, 13-10.