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Tony Nicolette

Week Ten Recaps

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Let's open this week by congratulating Ashland University on their first GLIAC Championship. The Eagles are still unbeaten, and have clinched the out-right league title. Coach Owens and staff have to be pleased with how well their club has performed this year, and are essentially a lock to make the playoffs regardless of what happens this weekend.

As for this past weekend, In my six years of writing about the GLIAC for D2Football.com I have seen some interesting things happen. I've seen days where there are three games that finish with the same final score, other days where three or four of the league's games will go into overtime, or even upset-laden days. Heck, it's football...that stuff happens. I will say that probably the strangest day I can recall was the last day of the 2011 season when multiple surprises happened and we all wondered just what the heck the committee was going to do in terms of "who gets in" to the bracket, etc. With all of that said, what happened this past Saturday definitely ranks right up there in terms of odd-ball stuff happening...especially in the North Division where upsets, surprises, and outstanding performances were everywhere. Let's take a quick look:

Findlay 38, Malone 14

OK, I talked about all of the oddities and we open with a game that actually, well, "went according to plan". Monterae Williams racked-up 114 yards rushing to close out his home career in style and add to his school record yardage total. He also scored twice, as did wide-out Seth White who had 103 yards receiving on four grabs. Malone got on the board on their opening drive, but really didn't do much after that with the exception of 79-yard touchdown pass from Will Szpor to Justin McClean in the second quarter.


Notre Dame 31, Walsh 28

Notre Dame did on offense what they have been doing for most of the year...moving the ball well via the ground and the air. What the defense finally did for the first time was hold an opponent under 300 yards. They were especially stingy in the second half when they had to claw their way back from the 21-3 deficit they faced at the break. NDC's typical leaders stepped-up as Pedro Powell had 133 yards on the ground, and Ray Russ threw for 286 yards and three scores. Steve Smith tallied 109 yards rushing and a TD for Malone in defeat.


Ohio Dominican 44, Lake Erie 14

The Panthers ran their win streak to four as they dominated host Lake Erie, especially in the second half. Running back Mark Nichols has missed some time this year, but the senior was able notch on heckuva day toward the end of his final season as he racked-up 212 yards and a TD on the ground to lead the Panther offense. Perhaps more impressively, the ODU defense held The Storm to 65 yards rushing after LEC has been running the ball very well the past few weeks.


Northern Michigan 33, Saginaw Valley 28

Man, this game had just about everything. Wow! There is little argument that the 'Cats have played markedly better over the last month, but there were also a whole bunch of funky bounces, big plays, and probably a little "Dome-Mystique" that helped them out as well as they shocked the visiting Cardinals with a 17-point fourth quarter to overcome a 28-16 deficit. The Cardinals did a lot of what they wanted on offense: Jeff Janis had another great day hauling in 11 grabs for 181 yards and two TD's. SV also ran the ball about as well as they have all year, with Tim Hogue notching 206 yards and a TD on the ground. All of that said, the Cardinals turned the ball over five times...four of which were fumbles on special teams, including an onside kick early in the 4th and those giveaways made the difference. Oddly enough, probably the most important fumble that was recovered came when NMU QB Cody Scepaniak fumbled going into the end zone late in the game only to have lineman Jace Daniels fall on it for the winning score. Scepaniak figured into two other TD's on the day (one throwing, one rushing) and Casey Cotta led the 'Cat offense with 109 yards on the ground. Northern kicker Rockne Belmonte was also important for the 'Cats in this one, hitting on four of his five FG's (many coming from long range, including a 55-yarder) and becoming Northern's all-time leader in FG's made.


Northwood 38, Ferris State 33

There have been times this year where Ferris has, seemingly, "fallen asleep" during games. It didn't hurt them so much against Grand Valley or Wayne as they overcame large early deficits to storm back and win. Well, another "swoon" hit them in this one. After jumping out to a quick 13-0 advantage, the Bulldogs allowed The Woodies to rattle off 31 unanswered points. Ferris trailed 38-20 entering the final stanza, but this furious comeback fell short as Northwood won for the first time since starting the season 4-0. Mark Morris had his best game as NU's QB with 252 yards and pair of scores passing, and Jordan Jonker found the end zone three times on the ground for Northwood. Ferris was led once again by QB Jason VanderLaan who threw four TD passes but he was held below 100 yards rushing for just the second time in the last six games, thanks in part to being sacked four times.


Michigan Tech 42, Hillsdale 14

This result was yet another of the "eye-openers" that we had this past weekend. Tech winning isn't a surprise...the blow-out fashion in which they pasted the visiting Chargers? OK, that made us say "Wow". We talked last week about how Hillsdale just doesn't seem to "function normally" when they play in the UP, and that was plenty evident in this one as the potent (and almost always reliable) HC ground game was held to just 86 yards and QB Anthony Mifsud was picked-off three times. Conversely, the Tech RB-Committee was plenty effective rolling for 192 yards on the ground. Tyler Scarlett was hot once again firing four TD passes on the afternoon, with three of them finding TE Bryan LaChapelle before the second quarter was half-over. The Huskies built a 14-point edge at recess, and shut-out the Chargers in the second half to cruise from there. In the loss, running back Joe Glendening became Hillsdale College's all-time leading rusher taking the top spot from former Charger great Scott Schulte who set the record back in 1993.


Ashland 49, Tiffin 21

After falling behind 21-0 in the first quarter, Tiffin did what they could to make this one interesting by closing the gap to two scores mid-way through the third. That was as close as they would get, however, as the GLIAC Champ Eagles closed out the Dragons from there to get to 10-0. As usual, Taylor Housewright led the way for AU by tossing four TD passes to four different receivers. Housewright was actually only two attempts away from tying the NCAA record for consecutive passes with out an interception, but a tipped-ball was picked-off by the Dragons in the second quarter ending his streak at 377. Housewright's counterpart, Dan Pitts, led the Tiffin offense with 322 yards and a touchdown through the air.


Grand Valley 35, Wayne State 13

Despite a couple of turnovers and a decimated/retooled secondary, the Lakers resurgence continued as they ran for 319 yards on the night and steamrolled the visiting Warriors. Kirk Spencer led the Grand Valley attack with 228 yards and a score, and Mike Ratay was also hot with 118 yards and two TD's. The passing game was also solid, as Charles Johnson's senior night finished with 10 catches for 112 yards and a pair of TD's. This game could have had a different feel as a couple of early drops stalled Wayne drives (one would have been a TD), but with the way Grand Valley's offensive line controlled the trenches and paved the way for the Spencer/Ratay tandem it's hard to know for sure if the result would have been all that different. The Laker defense held the Warrior ground attack to only 88 yards on the evening, easily their best result of the season.


Only one week left in the season. I'll put up something additional this week to talk about playoff scenarios (it's really just Ashland and Grand Valley that have shots at this point), so stay tuned for that and our preview of the final Saturday of GLIAC action.

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