Detroit – All is well again with Jayru Campbell and Ferris State.
Campbell returned home to the Motor City Saturday night and led No. 2 Ferris State to a dominating 59-13 win over Wayne State in the GLIAC showdown before a record crowd of 7,366 at Adams Field.
Campbell, who led Detroit Cass Tech to consecutive state championships this decade (2011, ’12) and won the Harlon Hill award last season while helping Ferris State reach the Division II title game, didn’t play the last two weeks for various reasons after throwing three interceptions in a 28-13 win at Ashland Sept. 21.
In a homecoming of sorts, Campbell put on a show after coughing up the ball on the Bulldogs’ opening series at the Wayne State 12.
Campbell tossed the turnover aside and led the Bulldogs (6-0) to a 35-0 halftime lead, throwing for 203 yards and three TDs and running for 76 yards and two more scores while taking advantage of multiple short-field situations.
“It felt real good, like one of the biggest blessings I’ve ever saw, a couple of years ago I couldn’t even imagine me even playing football again, let alone playing in front of probably hundreds of people that’s actually rooting and been supporting me on my journey,” said Campbell, who took a short trip to Detroit in late September before returning to Big Rapids to get back to business.
“With the coaches that I have played for and the environments that I’ve been in, my coaches have prepared me for so much, starting with Ron Coleman in PAL, I remember his words and phrases, then in high school I had great coaches like Jermain Crowell and Thomas Wilcher who made sure I stayed focused, stayed locked in and took it serious, then even in junior college and now with Coach (Tony) Annese.
“I’ve played for a lot of great coaches, I was so happy to see my Little League coach (Coleman) today and he probably didn’t even understand the impact he had on my life, but growing up I didn’t really have no father figures like that, so those are the guys I looked up to in some type of ways because I love football, so God really placed a lot of individuals that did a tremendous job as far as motivating me to keep going.”
Ferris State coach Tony Annese was impressed with Campbell’s outing.
“Obviously a great team victory today, I thought Jayru was great in the first half and Evan (Cummins) was great in the second half and we played good defense and good offense so all and all a great victory,” Annese said. “In the last two weeks we haven’t really been able to get our outside receivers the ball the way we did tonight, part of that’s Jayru is more of a polished passer than the other guys, the other part is just opening it up and allowing our athletes to make plays in open space.
“He (Campbell) was ready, definitely ready tonight. I think he felt really healthy and excited to be here, and it’s Detroit so it makes a big impact. A lot of our guys are from this city, so they want to come back and show out and they did.”
On the first play of the Bulldogs’ second drive, Campbell hit Sy Barnett over the middle for a 38-yard pass to set up Campbell’s 6-yard TD run to end the two-play drive.
Then, Campbell directed a 57-yard drive when he threw a perfectly thrown deep ball to Barnett down the right sideline for a 46-yard TD pass and 14-0 lead with 4:39 left in the first quarter.
Campbell again found Barnett down the right sideline, this time for a 36-yard scoring strike on the final play of the quarter for a 21-0 cushion. Campbell made sure the Bulldogs’ 65-yard drive stayed alive by rushing for 3 yards on a fourth and 1 at the Ferris State 44.
“Sy is just a heck of an athlete, I have a lot of trust in Sy,” Campbell said. “I’ve seen him literally to a tip dunk, dunk the ball and break the whole backboard, so when it comes to deep balls and jump balls, I trust him a lot.”
The Bulldogs took a 28-0 lead on Campbell’s 16-yard TD run when he couldn’t find a receiver and took off for the end zone with 10:46 left in the second quarter to cap off a 58-yard drive.
Campbell played at a high level, connecting on 10-of-12 passes in the opening half, his final toss of the half going to junior tight end Lazon Hicks for a 6-yard scoring toss with 1:35 left for a 35-0 lead. Barnett had five first-half receptions for 139 yards and the two TDs.
“Lazon’s been with us now for five years and for him to get a touchdown is awesome to see,” Annese said.
When asked if he had ever had a half like he did in the first half against the Warriors, Campbell replied: “I’m not sure, but big credit to the offensive line, big credit to the wide receivers and big credit to the coaching staff. I felt like all of us really came together today, even when stuff went bad, like I started out with a fumble, everybody just kept everybody’s heads up and we just kept fighting as a team.”
Wayne State (3-3) entered the game on a three-game winning streak, but Ferris State played at another level than the Warriors’ previous three opponents in Quincy (33-7), Saginaw Valley State (24-20) and Northern Michigan (27-14).
Ferris State held a 351-59 advantage in total yards at the half, setting the tone when 6-foot-1, 235-pound linebacker Avonte Bell slammed Wayne State quarterback Dakota Kupp to the turf early in the first quarter.
To make matters worse, Wayne State had averaged just 24.3 yards a punt on its first six kicks in the first half.
Sophomore quarterback Evan Cummins (10-of-16, 82 yards), who started in place of Campbell the last couple of weeks, took over at quarterback in the second half, helping the Bulldogs open up a 42-0 lead early in the third quarter on Tyler Minor’s 3-yard TD run.
Wayne State got on the board with Jake AmRhein’s 7-yard TD pass to tight end Nick Poterack with 7:57 left in the third, but Ferris State quickly answered with Jeremy Burrell’s 9-yard TD run for a 49-6 advantage with 4:55 remaining in the quarter.