Big Rapids, Mich. - The Ferris State University football team opened its third-straight NCAA Division II Playoff appearance with an impressive 65-34 triumph over Midwestern State (Texas) on Saturday (Nov. 19) at FSU's Top Taggart Field.
The Bulldogs fought back from a 20-10 deficit early in the second quarter to take a 30-10 halftime edge and then cruised to the victory in the second half over the seventh-seeded Mustangs in the first-ever matchup between the two schools.
With the win, the region's second-seeded Bulldogs will next play host to sixth-seeded Colorado Mines next Saturday (Nov. 26) in Big Rapids. Game time is to be announced.
Ferris State started quickly in its eighth all-time NCAA Playoff appearance as the Bulldogs found paydirt on their second offensive drive via a 73-yard TD run from junior slot Jajuan Pollock.
However, Midwestern State answered with 6:06 to go in the first period when quarterback Quade Coward reached the endzone on a 10-yard scoring run to knot the game up.
The Mustangs took their first lead at 14-7 with only 3:55 left in the first when Coward found Statron Jones on a 29-yard scoring strike to finish a five-play, 59-yard jaunt.
The Bulldogs responded by moving 53 yards in eight plays to trim the margin to 14-10 on junior Wyatt Ford's 26-yard field goal.
Midwestern State built its largest lead at 20-10 with 14:16 remaining in the first half when Coward hooked up with Breion Evans for a 27-yard scoring throw.
From that point forward, though, the Bulldogs responded in a big way. Senior quarterback Trevor Bermingham came on in relief on starter Reggie Bell and scored the next four touchdowns to give FSU a decided advantage. His first came on a one-yard TD run with 8:26 to go in the half,
capping an 11-play, 57-yard march.
Bermingham followed with a 12-yard TD run with 6:36 remaining in the opening half as he finished off a four-play, 37-yard Bulldog scoring drive, putting FSU back in front 23-20. His final first-half score came with 3:50 left and pushed FSU's edge to 30-20 at the break when he tallied his third scoring run on a two-yard carry.
Ferris State started the second half by increasing its lead to 37-20 when Bermingham engineered an eight-play, 60-yard march which he capped with a 15-yard touchdown for his fourth of the day.
The Mustangs managed to trim the margin back to 10 points with 8:05 left in the third when Coward found Deandre Black on a 21-yard scoring completion, but that was as close as Midwestern State would come in the second half.
From there, Bermingham drove the Bulldogs 61 yards in five plays and connected with sophomore wideout Malik Taylor on a 47-yard scoring throw to give FSU a 44-27 lead with 3:54 left in the third. Soon after, he scored for the fifth time when he sprinted in from two-yards out to finish an
eight-play, 40-yard drive on the final play of the third period.
Ferris State then added two fourth-quarter "pick six" defensive scores as Tavierre Thomas intercepted a Mustang pass and scored on a 51-yard return. Later, Jevonte Alexander picked off a throw and raced 35-yard to the endzone for the Bulldogs' final score.
Midwestern State capped the scoring with a seven-yard TD pass from Layton Rabb with only nine seconds remaining.
Overall, the Bulldogs totaled 488 yards of total offense in blustery conditions, which included 362 yards rushing on 64 attempts. Midwestern State compiled 458 yards with 118 on the ground and 340 in the air.
Bermingham led FSU with a game-high 126 yards rushing and five TD's while completing eight-of-10 passes for 126 yards and a score. Jajuan Pollock had 92 yards rushing while tailback Marvin Campbell added 92 yards on 15 tries. Taylor had three catches for 69 yards while senior Shakur Sanders grabbed two balls for 38 yards on the FSU side.
Coward completed 17-of-32 throws for 246 yards and three scores for Midwestern State before leaving the game with an injury. Vincent Johnson paced MSU on the ground with 48 yards on 17 attempts while Breion Evans had five catcehs for 74 yards overall.
Defensively, senior linebacker Anthony Darkangelo had a team-high 12 tackles for the FSU defense. Nick Huckabay came up with nine stops and two pass breakups while Thomas made six tackes and broke up two passes as well as his interception return for a score.
This year marked the third consecutive year in which the Bulldogs played host to an NCAA Division II Playoff game. The win was FSU's sixth-straight this year and the Bulldogs improved to 10-2 overall this season.