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'Once in a lifetime': Ferris State Bulldogs bring back D-II title to West Michigan

Flew back Sunday after torching Valdosta St. in a 58-17 victory Saturday night
Ferris State Bulldogs Division II trophy
Posted at 9:11 PM, Dec 19, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-19 22:56:54-05

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — It's a perfect ending to a perfect season. For the first time in program history, the Ferris State Bulldogs returned to West Michigan as Division II National Champions.

Their flight touched down Sunday afternoon at Avflight, a small privately-owned airport adjacent to Gerald R. Ford International Airport in Grand Rapids.

“It’s once in a lifetime, man," said Sophomore Tight End Mason Pline, one of the last players off the plane. "It’s more than anything I could’ve ever imagined. It meets my expectations and more.”

RELATED: Ferris State routs Valdosta State to win first National Championship

The team took off at 8:30 Sunday morning from Texas — a quick turnaround after celebrating the win until 7 a.m.

That's probably why several players still sported the cowboy hats they were gifted after the game when they arrived back home.

Ferris State Bulldogs
Two members of the Ferris State Bulldogs' championship team haven't taken off the cowboy hats they were gifted after their big win in McKinney, Texas.

The moment still hasn't quite sunk in for Assistant Head Coach Brian Rock.

“When you’re going through something like that, you really don’t take the time to think about it that much," he told FOX 17. "Just to enjoy it. You’re just so immersed in the process, but it was pretty special.”

When asked about where this win ranks in his long coaching career, he answered simply.

“It's the first time I’ve ever competed for a national championship, so it’s right at the top," Rock said.

As Rock continued to try and wrap his head around history, Pline said it sank in the second that confetti started falling.

“A lot of the guys felt the same way, but we didn’t want to leave the field after," Pline said. "They were kicking us out, leaf blowing and everything, but we didn’t want to leave.”

Once they finally left the field, celebration ensued.

Rock said, “It was pretty fun in the hotel last night after we all got back. There was a bunch of fans and families and former players and all those kinds of things. That is a lot of fun.”

The team might've had a little too much fun. The trophy returned to West Michigan in two pieces.

In the video, you can hear Sara Higley, the team's Senior Associate Athletic Director, say "one of our alumni dropped it."

Another team staff member credited the break to a "festive celebration."

Even though the trophy is broken, the Bulldogs' dreams are anything but that right now.

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