ALLENDALE, Mich. – Fourth-ranked Grand Valley State held off a resilient Ohio Dominican squad on Saturday. A touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Darryl Pitts with a little more than a minute to play gave the Lakers the wild 46-41 win.
After falling behind 6-0 early in the second quarter after two Panther field goals, the Lakers were able to get a momentum-changing 74-yard kick return from freshman Kirk Spencer to set up a 21-yard touchdown run from sophomore Michael Ratay, his first of three scores on the evening.
An interception by junior corner Reggie Williams on the ensuing ODU drive gave the Lakers great field position. They were able to capitalize as Ratay went in for a 20-yard score to make it a 14-6 contest.
The Panthers responded with a score on their first play from scrimmage following the kickoff as Brandon Schoen went 75 yards for a touchdown to draw ODU within one at 14-13.
GVSU seemed to take control following the big play, getting a 10-yard touchdown catch from senior Israel Woolfork with 9:22 to play in the half and then another touchdown run from Ratay with 1:24 left to play that gave the Lakers a 26-13 advantage.
In the third quarter, after a short Ohio Dominican punt left the Lakers with great field position, sophomore quarterback Isiah Grimes, in his first game as a starter, went deep to senior Charles Johnson for a 43-yard score. On the extra point, the snap was fumbled, but it turned in to two points for GVSU as freshman backup quarterback Brandon Beitzel found Joe Wirth in the corner of the endzone on the broken play for the conversion to make it 34-13 Lakers.
The Panthers responded with a score of their own on the ensuing drive to cut the lead to 34-20, but Williams came up with yet another big play, returning the kickoff 83 yards to paydirt, becoming the first Laker in school history to have both a kick and punt return touchdown in the same year. The Lakers led 40-20 going in to the fourth quarter.
Ohio Dominican would not lay down, however, scoring 21 consecutive points in the fourth quarter, ultimately taking the lead 41-40 with only 6:07 to play.
With 3:22 to play and the Lakers down one, the GVSU defense was able to get a key stop and force a punt to its own 42-yard line. After a 15-yard rush from Spencer to put the Lakers in ODU territory and a strike to junior Brandan Green to get GVSU down to the Panther 14-yard line, a snap to Grimes went through his hands and he had to cover up at the ODU 25. An incomplete pass made it a third-and-21 situation, where Grimes threw a pass to the corner of the end zone that found its way in to the arms of Pitts for a touchdown with only 1:16 to play to give the Lakers a 46-41 lead. The two-point conversion attempt was stopped at the one.
The Panthers began their last drive with some success, using a 9-yard pass and a fourth-and-one conversion to get to their own 48-yard line. With 31 seconds to play, a pass from Mark Miller went through the hands of the intended receiver and fell in to the arms of junior defensive back Dana Dixon at the GVSU 29-yard line to seal the victory for the Lakers.
|OHIO DOMINICAN VS. GRAND VALLEY STATE|
GVSU racked up 460 yards of total offense, including 316 through the air. Johnson had another huge game, hauling in eight passes for 177 yards and a touchdown. Grimes, in his first start, finished the game 14-for-30 for 316 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Pitts finished the game with two catches for 60 yards and a touchdown, while Ratay had 48 rushing yards and three touchdowns, all on the ground. Sophomore Chris Robinson led the team in rushing with 78 on 14 carries.
The Panthers got a huge game from Schoen, who finished with 298 yards and one touchdown on 27 carries.
Defensively, Williams had a career day with six tackles, one forced fumble, one interception and his 83-yard kick return touchdown.
Junior Luther Ware had a game-high 15 tackles, the most by a Laker in a single game since 2010. Junior Charles Hill collected 13 tackles with two for loss. Freshman Brad Horling had another double-digit tackle game, contributing 10 stops with a half tackle for loss and a fumble recovery.
The Lakers move to 4-0 on the season with a 2-0 mark in the GLIAC, while Ohio Dominican falls to 2-2 with a 1-2 record in the conference.
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