MARYVILLE, Mo. – A memorable Ferris State University football campaign came to an end on Saturday (Dec. 10) as the Bulldogs fell in the NCAA Division II National Semifinals to nationally top-ranked Northwest Missouri State by a 35-20 score at Bearcat Stadium in Maryville, Mo.
The Bulldogs battled the defending national champions the entire way before the school’s deepest postseason run in 21 years ended as the Bearcats held on to advance to the national title game.
Ferris State closed the longest season in FSU history with a 12-3 overall record while reaching the semifinals for only the second time in school history and first time since 1995.
The Bulldogs, who had won their first three playoff games in their third consecutive postseason appearance, faced a stiff test in Northwest Missouri State, which improved to 14-0 overall and won its 29th-straight game.
The Bearcats struck first as Randy Schmidt scored on a four-yard TD run on the hosts first offensive possession to cap a 14-play, 92-yard drive.
Ferris State answered early in the second period as senior quarterback Trevor Bermingham scored his 19th rushing TD of the season to finish a three-play, 38-yard FSU drive.
The Bulldogs took their first lead of the day soon after as FSU forced a fumble and the offense converted on a short six-yard scoring drive capped by Bermingham’s four-yard TD toss to senior tight end Kyle Thompson.
But, Northwest Missouri State responded and regained the lead at 14-13 when backup QB Jonathan Baker came on in place of injured Harlon Hill Trophy finalist Kyle Zimmerman and led the Bearcats on a 70-yard march. He found Shane Williams on a 19-yard reception for the go-ahead score.
The Bearcats then increased their lead to 21-13 at halftime when Cameron Wilcox found the endzone on a two-yard scoring run to finish an eight-play, 75-yard drive with only 3:14 left in the half.
Ferris State opened the second half by cutting the lead back to a single point on slot receiver Davontae Harrington’s six-yard sweep, which finished a five-play, 52-yard FSU drive.
Northwest Missouri State pushed the lead back to eight points at 28-20 at the end of three quarters when Wilcox scored his second TD of the day on a one-yard carry to end a 10-play, 84-yard Bearcat scoring drive.
Finally, the Bearcats added a 10-yard touchdown run from Phil Jackson with 4:45 left in the game to accout for the final scoring.
FSU had opportunities in the final five minutes, but a potential scoring drive was thwarted on fourth down and Northwest Missouri State ran out the clock to pull out the win.
Northwest Missouri State finished with 415 yards of total offense to only 284 for Ferris State, which totaled 108 yards rushing and 176 in the air.
Bermingham completed 11-of-22 passes for 164 yards and a score for FSU while Reggie Bell ran for a team-high 61 yards on 13 carries. Jahaan
Brown totaled 44 yards on the ground and Marquel Hines caught three passes for 25 yards. Both Malik Taylor and Shakur Sanders had two catches apiece.
Baker completed 18-of-24 throws for 139 yards in leading NW Missouri State. Williams had nine catches for 58 yards and Schmidt ran for 71 yards on 13 carries.
Linebacker Nick Huckabay led the FSU defense with 12 tackles while both Tavierre Thomas and KC Zenner notched 11 stops apiece.
The Bulldogs wrapped up the year by winning eight of their final nine games, including three postseason victories to claim the Super Region Four Championship en route to the national semifinals.