Last Updated 1:04 AM, December 19, 2021

Ferris State wins its first DII football national championship

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Ferris State wins the 2021 DII football championship in dominant fashion
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5:20 am, December 19, 2021

Ferris State wins the 2021 DII football championship

NCAA Photos Ferris State wins the 2021 DI football national championship

McKinney, Texas — This one was all that was advertised. Valdosta State and Ferris State entered the DII football championship game with the two best offenses in DII — and the Bulldogs showed why on a frigid night from McKinney, Texas. In the end, Ferris State won 58-17 to win the 2021 national championship, it's first in program history.

First-quarter fireworks

This was going to be a battle between two of the best quarterbacks in DII football. Jared Bernhardt, who had a 200-yard, five-touchdown performance in the semifinals, picked up where he left off. Bernhardt busted a 56-yard touchdown run on the Bulldogs’ first play from scrimmage. He finished the first quarter with 116 yards and two touchdowns.

Not to be outdone, Ivory Durham led the Blazers in rushing while passing for 89 yards and two touchdowns in the first quarter. It was quite the opposite of the Ferris State attack, which didn’t attempt a single pass in the first quarter and led after the first 15 minutes, 20-17. It was the most points scored in the first quarter in DII football championship history.

Final stats

NCAA.com Ferris State wins the 2021 DII football championship.
Ferris State’s offensive line takes over

Ferris State's offensive line is the collective MVP of this game. They really showed what a huge advantage they are — quite literally, averaging 307 pounds per lineman. They plowed the way for big play after big play — nine over 10 yards to be precise. The Bulldogs only needed to throw the ball twice in the first half and racked up 318 yards rushing with three different Bulldogs — Bernhardt, Jeremy Burrell and Tyler Minor — scoring touchdowns.

Those two passes? They were thrown by backup Mylik Mitchell who came into the game as Bernhardt tended to a dinged up ankle. One was incomplete, the other was a 47-yard touchdown pass to Tyrese Hunt-Thompson as the first half wound down.

Bulldogs finally call themselves champions

Ferris State has been on a run like no other. The Bulldogs have made five-straight trips to the national quarterfinals, four of which have led to the semifinals and two to the national championship game. The only thing that eluded Ferris State was the title… until now.

Durham couldn’t find a rhythm after a two-touchdown first quarter and was scrambling much of the second half. That led to him just missing on some throws. It was also Valdosta State’s lowest rushing total of the season and least points scored all year.

Ferris State is your 2021 DII football national champion, finishing the season a perfect 14-0. You can relive round-by-round recaps by scrolling below.

4:36 am, December 19, 2021

Ferris State out to a big lead

NCAA.com Ferris State leads at the DII football championship.

With just 3:44 remaining in the third quarter, Valdosta State is running out of chances. Ferris State has added a field goal and another touchdown in the third to increase its lead to 51-17. 

The Bulldogs' Evan Cummins rushed in the score which was set up by a huge 72-yard pass from Mylik Mitchell to Xavier Wade. All three Ferris State quarterbacks have scored, and the Bulldogs now have 407 yards rushing. The record is 524 set by Delta State in 2000.

3:39 am, December 19, 2021

Ferris State up 41-17 at the half

NCAA.com Ferris State leads at the DII football championship.

While Jared Bernhardt will get a lot of the attention, Ferris State's massive offensive line is the MVP of this first half. The Bulldogs have racked up 318 yards rushing in the first half with three different Bulldogs — Bernhardt, Jeremy Burrell and Tyler Minor — scoring touchdowns. Ferris State also has nine plays over 10 yards, including runs of 56, 48 and 78.

It has allowed the Bulldogs to focus on the run. Backup Mylik Mitchell has thrown both Ferris State passes — that's right, just two. One was incomplete, the other was a 47-yard touchdown pass to Tyrese Hunt-Thompson as the first half wound down. 

Ferris State's o-line — led by All-American Dylan Pasquali — has been a huge (quite literally) advantage throughout the playoffs. We are seeing that once again today.

Ferris State 41, Valdosta State 17 | HALF

3:14 am, December 19, 2021

Ferris State extends its lead as Bernhardt returns

Ferris State Athletics Jared Bernhardt of Ferris State football has three touchdowns in the championship game.

The pace has slowed a bit in the second quarter, but the Bulldogs haven't. Jared Bernhardt returned from the sidelines, his ankle seemingly better, and led 10 play, 44-yard drive, ending with his third touchdown of the day. The drive started on a Ferris State deflection turned interception.

Bernhardt has 130 yards rushing and Bulldogs' running back Jeremy Burrell has added 95 more. They've attempted one pass.

Ferris State 27, Valdosta State 17

2:39 am, December 19, 2021

Complete mayhem — 17 points scored in just minutes

NCAA.com 2021 DII football championship.

What a turn of events. Ivory Durham leads another touchdown drive, this one going 77 yards in 2:48. He used his legs as usual, but it was his arm that did the damage. He hit veteran Brian Saunds on a big play and connected with Travon Roberts for an 18-yard score. 

Jared Bernhardt then fumbled on the first play of Ferris State's ensuing drive and the Blazers recovered in the red zone. Valdosta State turned that into a field goal.

But wait, there's more. 

Bernhardt limped off and was being tended to on the sidelines, walking very gingerly. Mylik Mitchell is currently in at quarterback for Ferris State. Jeremy Burrell breaks off a 75-yard rush for a touchdown and Ferris State is back on top. 

Catch your breathe, here comes Valdosta State... we still have 1:54 in the first quarter. 

Ferris State 20, Valdosta State 17

2:30 am, December 19, 2021

Bernhardt busts loose again, Ferris State up 13-7

Ferris State Athletics Jared Bernhardt of Ferris State football.

You can see Bernhardt's lacrosse experience shining through right now. He's so explosive, but it is because he makes quick decisions and splits defenders unlike any other quarterback I've seen at the DII level. 

Bernhardt busted off another big rush, this one for 48 yards, on that last drive and finished it off with a five-yard score. He now has two touchdowns. Valdosta State is on the move... we have five minutes left in the first quarter.

Ferris State 13, Valdosta State 7 

2:21 am, December 19, 2021

Valdosta State answers, Ivory Durham gives the Blazers the lead

Valdosta State Athletics Valdosta State meets Ferris State in the finals.

As we said in our preview below, you should expect some fireworks in this one, as Valdosta State and Ferris State were the No. 1 and No. 2 offenses in DII, respectively. Ivory Durham leads a 75-yard drive, taking 5:11 off the clock, mixing the rush game in with the pass game and connecting with running back Seth McGill down the seam for an 18-yard touchdown pass. 

Valdosta State 7, Ferris State 6

2:09 am, December 19, 2021

Ferris State strikes first, Jared Bernhardt busts huge run

NCAA.com DII football championship.

Valdosta State couldn't get much going on the first drive. Ferris State was able to get a hand on the punt and the Bulldogs took over on their own 46.

Jared Bernhardt took the first Ferris State play from scrimmage to the house on a nifty 56-yard touchdown run, spinning into the end zone to cap it off. 

Ferris State 6, Valdosta State 0

2:00 am, December 19, 2021

Live updates: Kickoff is here —Valdosta State vs. Ferris State

A kickoff two years in the making. Ferris State and Valdosta State have taken the field. Ferris State won the coin toss and deferred to the second half. Ivory Durham and Valdosta State will get the ball first. 

12:48 am, December 19, 2021

Ferris State vs. Valdosta State: The DII national champion will be crowned tonight

Valdosta State Athletics Valdosta State meets Ferris State in the finals.

Valdosta State and Ferris State battle tonight in McKinney, Texas in a rematch of the 2018 national championship game. Kickoff is set for 9 p.m. ET. You can watch the action on ESPNU or follow here for live updates as they happen. 

The weather is cold... and only getting colder. This certainly favors Ferris State after the playoff games it has played the past few weeks. The wind may also play a factor as it was a 12-mph gust that seems to be picking up as we near kickoff.

Wayne Cavadi | NCAA.com The 2021 DII football championship.

Here's everything you need to know for the matchup. 

Ferris State vs. Valdosta State: Tale of the tape

Much like 2018, these two teams are evenly matched and have been arguably the best two teams in DII football from start to finish. Last time we saw these two play, they went down to the final seconds of the game, rewriting the DII football championship record book along the way.

11 CRAZY NUMBERS: Take a look at the record-setting 2018 championship game

So, how do the two matchup in 2021?

Stat Ferris State Valdosta State
Record 13-0 12-1
Yards per game 507.1 527.2
Rush yards per game 267.8 267.0
Pass yards per game 239.3 260.3
Points per game 46.4 43.2
Yards allowed per game 276.2 330.3
Points allowed per game 18.4 20.0

Both teams have respectable defenses, but they are both more about making the big play. This will be an offensive heavyweight slugfest, and fans should be in for a treat. Valdosta State in No. 1 in DII in total offense while Ferris State is No. 2. The Bulldogs lead DII in scoring offense, while the Blazers are fifth overall. While it may seem like Valdosta State has a slight edge in the passing game yards-wise, it is important to note that Ferris State is the third-most efficient team passing, making the most of every time it throws the ball. 

Players to watch

There are plenty of players to watch. The 2021 Gene Upshaw Award winner, Dylan Pasquali, anchors one of the best — and largest — offensive lines in the nation, which is pivotal for that rush attack. Brian Saunds and Lio'undre Gallimore are savvy wide receivers, Saunds being an excellent, speedy route runner and Gallimore with game-breaking ability to take the top off a defense. Gallimore had 111 yards and two scores in the 2018 game while Saunds reeled in 75 yards, so they can shine on the big stage.

Defensively, Ferris State boasts the GLIAC defensive player of the year in Caleb Murphy who had 13.5 sacks and five forced fumbles. It will be interesting to see if he can get to Ivory Durham, who was sacked a mere two times thanks to a bulky offensive line and gifted athleticism. Mondrell Jefferson is one to watch in the secondary, leading DII in fumble recoveries, two of which were scores.

But of course, this game features two of the best quarterbacks DII football has to offer. Jared Bernhardt has made the remarkable transition from Tewaaraton Award winning DI lacrosse player to GLIAC offensive player of the year. Last week in the semifinals, he ran for more than 200 yards with five touchdowns in another tremendous game.

For Valdosta State, Durham has transitioned well himself. A backup quarterback and jack-of-all-trades prior to 2021, Durham was used as more of a change-of-pace running back since 2018, throwing a touchdown in the 2018 game on a trick play to fellow quarterback Rogan Wells. Now, Durham has taken over, still using his elusive speed but developing into a precise passer seemingly improving every week.

Ferris State vs. Valdosta State: Coaching greats

What Tony Annese has done at Ferris State is simply remarkable. This season was the Bulldogs fifth straight trip to the quarterfinals and fourth trip to the semifinals during that span. Last week's win over Shepherd was No. 100 in his amazing career. Another fun fact: Under Annese, eight different Ferris State quarterbacks have registered five or more touchdowns in a game. Three of them — Jared Bernhardt, Evan Cummins and Mylik Mitchell — came this season.

Gary Goff is the fourth head coach to lead the Blazers to a national championship game. He rebuilt a Tiffin program seemingly overnight before returning to Valdosta State for the 2019 season. Before he was a coach, he was a player for the mid-90s Blazers team that turned the program from Valdosta State to Title Town. Goff was on the first team to win a GSC crown as well as a member of the first two DII football playoff teams from VSU. The rest, as they say, is history.

Ferris State vs. Valdosta State: How to win

For Valdosta State, the recipe is simple. Score first and score often. The Blazers are 10-0 when scoring first this year, and they are a team that lays it on early. That helped last week when the Colorado School of Mines came storming back in the fourth quarter but simply ran out of time trying to catch the Blazers' already large lead.

For Ferris State, it's simply play Ferris football. That means letting Bernhardt establish the flow early and pick and choose his holes and throw when he needs to. It appears close to impossible to rattle Durham and get him out of sync, so it may be on the Ferris State secondary to disrupt his receivers off the line and try to get Durham's timing off. 

The weather is currently looking to be an un-Texas-like high-30 degrees come kickoff, which certainly favors Ferris State this postseason. But the weather won't matter with this much talent on the field. Whoever has the ball last will likely come home national champion.

10:47 pm, December 14, 2021

Hear from Valdosta State and Ferris State before Saturday's championship

Both Valdosta State head coach Gary Goff and Ferris State head coach Tony Annese spoke to media on Tuesday, Dec. 14 to answer questions about the highly anticipated national championship game rematch this Saturday.

You can hear what both had to say about their Harlon Hill nominated quarterbacks Ivory Durham and Jared Bernhardt, how they are preparing for such dynamic offenses and what it means for each program to be back in the championship game.

Tony Annese, Ferris State head coach

Gary Goff, Valdosta State head coach

11:58 pm, December 11, 2021

Ferris State, Valdosta State to meet in finals Dec. 18

Ferris State Athletics Jared Bernhardt of Ferris State football.

The stage is set. Ferris State and Valdosta State, the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in DII football, will meet in the 2021 national championship game on Saturday, Dec. 18, from McKinney, Texas.

It is the second time these two DII football powerhouses will meet for the title in the past three tournaments. Valdosta State won the 2018 rendition, 49-47, in a game that came down to the final seconds of play.

How we got here: DII football semifinals recap

Valdosta State 34, Colorado School of Mines 31 | Final
Valdosta State appeared to have its semifinals game well in hand, but a 14-0 fourth quarter from Colorado School of Mines made this an exciting finish. The Blazers, behind a huge performance from quarterback Ivory Durham, prevailed and showed why Valdosta State has earned the monicker "Title Town."

Ferris State 55, Shepherd 7 | Final
This was a battle between DII football's top two offenses. Ferris State prevailed, while Shepherd's explosive Harlon Hill-finalist quarterback Tyson Bagent was held in check. The Bulldogs' star quarterback Jared Bernhardt returned from injury and rushed in three touchdowns before the end of the first quarter, and Ferris State had this one well in hand right away.

Don't go away. Starting Tuesday, we will have a day-by-day preview of the eight Harlon Hill finalists as well as a DII football championship game preview. You can get caught up on today's semifinals and every round of the 2021 DII football championship in our recaps below.

Click or tap here to view the full 2021 DII football bracket. And for a printable version of the bracket, go here.

11:49 pm, December 11, 2021

Ferris State, Valdosta State advance in semifinals

NCAA.com The 2021 DII football bracket.

And then there were two. The semifinals wrapped up Saturday, Dec. 11 and Valdosta State and Ferris State move on to their second championship game appearance since 2018. You can follow how both games unraveled in the update thread below.

Real-time updates and scores from the DII football semifinals

Ferris State 55, Shepherd 7 | Final

Key stats

Player School Stats  
Jared Bernhardt Ferris State 51 pass, 201 rush, 5 TD
Tyrese Hunt-Thompson Ferris State 31 total yards, 2 total TD
     
Tyson Bagent Shepherd 249 pass, 1 TD
Josh Gontarek Shepherd Shepherd 114 receiving, 1 TD

6:24 p.m.: Ferris State 55, Shepherd 7 — Evan Cummins rushes it in and now all three Ferris State quarterbacks have found the end zone. This offense is impressive. Halfway through the fourth quarter and it's all Ferris State. 

6:11 p.m.: Ferris State 48, Shepherd 7 — We enter the fourth quarter and Shepherd has a mountain to climb. The Bulldogs added another score from sometimes-starter, sometimes-backup quarterback Mylik Mitchell. Mitchell connected with Hunt-Thompson for his second score of the half. 

5:54 p.m.: Ferris State 41, Shepherd 7 — It's been a quiet second half between DII's most explosive offenses thus far. Ferris State is the first to break through, and it wasn't on a Bernhardt touchdown. Tyrese Hunt-Thompson runs it in from 16 yards out to put the Bulldogs up by five scores. 

Halftime: Ferris State 35, Shepherd 7 — Simply a remarkable first half from the Ferris State quarterback. Bernhardt now has five touchdowns. He has 163 yards rushing, while his counterpart, Tyson Bagent has thrown for 147 yards and a touchdown. The Rams have been the comeback kids all season. Ferris State is best off not taking the pedal off the metal, because this one isn't over yet.

4:33 p.m.: Ferris State 28, Shepherd 7 — The Jared Bernhardt Show is in full effect. The Bulldogs' quarterback now has 128 yards rushing and four touchdowns. Plenty of time for Bagent and company to get back in this. 

4:13 p.m.: Ferris State 21Shepherd 7 — The snow is falling harder and it may have led to the botched punt from Shepherd. Ferris State recovered deep in Shepherd's territory and Jared Bernhardt punches it in once again for a 21-7 lead. It is his third touchdown of the first quarter. Tyson Bagent will have a tall order to lead an aerial attack in this weather. 

4:02 p.m.: Ferris State 14Shepherd 7 — This award-winning offensive line is showing why they are so tough. Anchored by Gene Upshaw winner Dylan Pasquali, they continue to open holes for Bernhardt. He rushes it in from one yard out to put Ferris State back on top. Still five minutes to go in the first quarter. 

3:56 p.m.: Ferris State 7Shepherd 7 — For Shepherd to have a chance, the Rams will need to win the turnover battle. They took the first steps to doing so by forcing a Tyler Minor fumble and turning it into a touchdown drive. Bagent hooked up with one of his favorite targets Josh Gontarek twice, once for 29 yards and then for a one-yard score to tie it up. 

3:39 p.m.: Ferris State 7Shepherd 0 — Welcome back, Jared Bernhardt. After missing last week with an injury, the Ferris State quarterback shows why he is so dangerous. The Bulldogs have a two-play drive highlighted by a Bernhardt 61-yard run to the five followed by the Harlon Hill nominee punching it in from five yards out. Still plenty of time with 13:17 on the clock. Get ready for fireworks, this should be a good one. 

3:00 p.m. — Get ready for football, Ferris State style. The weather in Big Rapids, Michigan is a frigid 33 degrees with snow in the forecast. 

Valdosta State 34, Colorado School of Mines 31 | Final

Give credit to the Colorado School of Mines. The Orediggers never went away with a 14-0 fourth quarter, but it was just too late. Valdosta State moves on to the finals looking for its fifth DII football national championship. Scroll down to relive how the first semifinal game played out.

Key stats:

Player Team Stats
Ivory Durham Valdosta State 220 pass, 153 rush, 4 total TD
Lio'undre Gallimore Valdosta State 101 receiving, 1 TD
     
John Matocha Colorado School of Mines 260 pass, 87 rush, 4 total TD
Michael Zeman Colorado School of Mines. 105 rush  

3:23 p.m.  —  Blazers 34, Orediggers 31: Matocha finds Josh Johnston to get the Orediggers down by three. The onside kick is... recovered by the Blazers. That should do it. Brian Saunds, the Blazers' top receiver who didn't play until just now, recovers. 

3:06 p.m.  —  Blazers 34, Orediggers 24: We're not done just yet. A big fourth down conversion and a nice crossing pattern from Matocha to Max McLeod from 17 yards out get the Orediggers to a 10-point deficit. Mines was close to recovering the ensuing onside on a perfect kick, but it bounces into the Blazers hands. Just 3:35 to go.

2:42p.m.  —  Blazers 34, Orediggers 17: Great play by the Valdosta defense. With fourth and a yard to go inside the 10, the Mines' offense attempted some tomfoolery with a reverse. The Blazers weren't fooled, held their lanes and stuffed the ball. Valdosta now has forced a fumble, interception and turnover on downs on big drives in the second half. 

2:24p.m.  —  Blazers 34, Orediggers 17: Another quick drive highlighted by big plays from Durham. He hooked up with Gallimore for 31 yards on a huge third-down conversion and used his feet again, scrambling for a 38-yard score. He's so explosive when he sees the hole, but don't be fooled — Durham is very much a pass-first QB. There's 3:44 left in the third. 

2:15 p.m.  —  Blazers 27, Orediggers 17: It's a turnover party in Valdosta State. Matocha had a path to the end zone and fumbled out of bounce at the one-yard line. However, the Blazers' followed with a fumble of their own when Jamar Thompkins coughed it up after breaking a huge 40-yard run. Wild few series. Mines needs to take advantage with just five minute remaining in the third. 

2:03 p.m.  —  Blazers 27, Orediggers 17:  Blazers come out with a couple big plays, but the Mines clamp down and hold them out of the red zone. Valdosta State has to settle for a field goal but does jump out to a two-score lead early in the third.

Halftime  —  Blazers 24, Orediggers 17: 
Blazers stats:

  • Durham: 156 pass, 91 receiving, 3 TD
  • Gallimore (60), Roberts (37), Talley (20) with TD catches

Mines stats:

  • Matocha: 107 pass, 24 rush, 2 TD
  • Zeman: 52 rush (3.71 ypc), 3 receiving

There has been a combined 481 yards of offense and 41 points. Are you not entertained? Stay tuned. Second half coming up. 

1:08 p.m. —  Blazers 17, Orediggers 17: Blazers' quarterback Ivory Durham threw his second touchdown on the last drive and Orediggers' quarterback countered with his second rushing touchdown of the day to tie it up. This drive saw a lot more Michael Zeman and the Mines' ground-and-pound offense that creates more passes for Matocha. Grab the popcorn, we have a good one. Still 6:30 left in the first half. 

12:56 p.m. —  Blazers 17, Orediggers 10: And that's the difficulty in planning against this Valdosta State offense. Quarterback Ivory Durham is so dynamic, the Blazers can move quickly. A 22-yard run by Durham sets up a huge 37-yard touchdown pass to Travon Roberts. Durham no has two touchdown passes. Still 10:54 to go in the first half. 

12:48 p.m. —  Blazers 10, Orediggers 10: Blazers' head coach Gary Goff makes a bold call to go for it on fourth down in their own territory and the Mines' defense stuffs Valdosta State. John Matocha and crew capitalize —  Harlon Hill candidate Michael Zeman picked up a big fourth down and Matocha took it into the end zone on a well-designed RPO call inside the 10. We have a tie ballgame in the second quarter.

12:25 p.m. — Blazers 10, Orediggers 0: Valdosta State hits a field goal to increase its lead. The Blazers are controlling all aspects of the game. Ivory Durham is executing seemingly at will on the ground and through the air. He has a few missed throws, but otherwise the Mines have had no answer. That was a big third-down stop for the Orediggers to hold the Blazers to three, so let's see how the offense responds.

Thus far, the Orediggers quarterback John Matocha — one of the most accurate and efficient in DII football two years running — has been held in check. He is 1-for-4 on the first two drives, so the Blazers are certainly keying in on the Mines' All-Conference quarterback, disrupting his timing by doing a good job of jumping routes. 

12:09 p.m. —

DII football semifinals facts and figures

  • The top three total offenses in DII football play Saturday. Valdosta State is No. 1 at 526.3 yards per game, Shepherd is No. 2 with 517.2 and Ferris State follows at No. 3 with 501.7 yards per game.
  • Conversely, Ferris State is the highest-ranked defense remaining in the tournament, allowing 276.2 yards per game, 15th-best in DII. However, Colorado School of Mines allows just 13.8 points per game, which is sixth-best in DII. 
  • Shepherd quarterback Tyson Bagent leads DII football with 4,751 yards passing and 339.4 passing yards per game. His 52 touchdown passes are also tops in the division.
  • Speaking of Bagent, he is one of two Harlon Hill Trophy finalists still playing. Colorado School of Mines running back Michael Zeman is the other. His 21 rushing touchdowns are fourth in DII. 
  • Valdosta State and Ferris State met in the 2018 national championship game. Several records were broken in that memorable 49-47 finale to the 2018 season. 
  • Ferris State is the only undefeated team remaining in DII football. It is the third tournament in a row that the Bulldogs enter the semifinals undefeated. 
  • Colorado School of Mines is in unchartered territory. The Orediggers are the only team in the final four making their semifinals debut. 

 

8:38 pm, December 4, 2021

The DII football semifinals are set for next Saturday

Shepherd Athletics Tyson Bagent threw a last-second touchdown for Shepherd.

Four No. 1 seeds entered DII football quarterfinals play on Saturday. Three will move on to the national semifinals. It was those pesky No. 2-seeded Shepherd Rams that messed up a No. 1-seed party, winning in the final seconds for the second week in a row. 

Here's what you missed from the DII football championship on Saturday.

The 2021 DII football quarterfinals in review

Tyson Bagent does it again. Kutztown and Shepherd put on a show in the first game of the day. As it has gone all postseason, Shepherd needed some late heroics from its Harlon Hill finalist-quarterback Tyson Bagent.

Shepherd outlasted Findlay in Round 1 with a big fourth quarter. The Rams advanced last week thanks to the big arm of Bagent, throwing a touchdown in the waning seconds to down Notre Dame (OH) 38-34. Once again, Bagent, who had been held in check for much of the day, waited until no ticks on the clock to pull off his latest heroics. This last second heave puts Shepherd in the semifinals for the first time since 2016.

It wasn't the final throw that was thrilling, but a back-and-forth battle all game. Shepherd jumped out to a 21-0 lead, but Kutztown's defense clamped down — the Golden Bears held the Rams scoreless until three minutes remained while the offense tied the score. Shepherd went ahead 24-21 and then the fireworks began. The Rams appeared to ice the game with an interception, but Jordan Davis stripped it, getting the ball back and setting up Kutztown's backup quarterback Donny Blaine for his second touchdown of the day. Kutztown left 30 seconds on the clock for Bagent, and the rest as they say, is history. 

Ferris State back in the semifinals. It was like déjà vu all over again for Ferris State… again. For the third-straight year, the Bulldogs defeated Northwest Missouri State in the playoffs, this time it was by a score of 41-20. And for the third-straight season — and amazing fourth time in five tournaments — the Bulldogs will be playing in the national semifinals.

There was no Jared Bernhardt today, but as they have done all season, backups Mylik Mitchell and Evan Cummins did just fine in his stead. Mitchell threw for a touchdown and ran for two more, while Cummins punched one in on the ground as well. Northwest Missouri State played well and had this as close as a one-score game. But Ferris State blew it open with three-straight scores to make it a 41-13 game and the Bearcats could not claw back.

Ivory Durham leads Blazers back to semifinals. I think 2019 was so long ago, people forget that Valdosta State was six seconds away from being undefeated in the quarterfinals for a second-straight year. Once again, the Blazers are semifinals bound, after a 41-17 victory over Bowie State. And like last time, it was thanks to big-time quarterback play.

Ivory Durham threw for 348 yards — and rushed for 61 more — and four touchdowns hooking up with veteran wide receivers Brian Saunds (146 yards, three touchdowns) and Lio’undre Gallimore (99 yards, one touchdown) at will. That’s an impressive air assault against one of the best defenses in the nation. Kudos to Bowie State’s Ja’Rome Johnson. He was still clearly hobbled from last week’s injury, but he battled, throwing for two touchdowns. It was an impressive performance.

Colorado School of Mines makes program history. For the first time ever, the Orediggers can call themselves national semifinalists. Colorado School of Mines held on against Angelo State for the 34-26 victory.

The Rams scored first, jumping out to a 3-0 lead before the Orediggers put up 20 in the second quarter. Despite being down three scores, the Rams never went away in the second half, playing tough to the final whistle. Michael Zeman, another Harlon Hill finalist, had a huge day, rushing for 138 yards and a touchdown while catching a 39-yard pass that turned out to be the much-needed score to seal the deal. Mines quarterback John Matocha tossed four touchdowns as the Orediggers had a complete offensive attack.

Complete results from the DII football quarterfinals:

Semifinals schedule announced

The semifinals continue next Saturday, Dec. 11. The teams have been reseeded Nos. 1-4 and are scheduled on ESPN+ as follows:

  • No. 3 Colorado School of Mines at No. 2 Valdosta State, noon ET
  • No. 4 Shepherd at No. 1 Ferris State, 3:30 p.m. ET

PLEASE NOTE: Since both games will be on ESPN+, we will be bringing live updates throughout both games right here.

Click or tap here to view the full 2021 DII football bracket. And for a printable version of the bracket, go here.

1:41 pm, December 4, 2021

Quarterfinals action begins Saturday: Schedule for the DII football championship

Colorado School of Mines colorado school of the mines 2021 dii football ncaa tournament

We are down to the last eight teams in the 2021 DII football championship. All quarterfinal games are scheduled to be played on Saturday, Dec. 4.

Four No. 1 seeds make up half of the quarterfinal field, and they will all host their games on Saturday afternoon at their home stadiums on campus. Valdosta State looks to continue its return to the mountaintop after winning the national championship in 2018.

Here are the matchups and kickoff times for Saturday (all times Eastern):

Here's one thing to know about each matchup:

  • Shepherd vs. Kutztown: Shepherd — led by quarterback Tyson Bagent who was named a Harlon Hill nominee for the third-straight season — has the top offense in the land. Of course, this very same Kutztown defense held the Rams to their lowest scoring output of the season in an early season victory. 
  • Bowie State vs. Valdosta State: The Blazers have the No. 5 scoring offense in DII football. Bowie State counters with the No. 5 scoring defense in DII football. Have the high-octane Blazers' met their match?
  • Northwest Missouri State vs. Ferris State: This is the third-straight postseason matchup between these two DII football powerhouses. The Bulldogs have won both of the previous two meetings. 
  • Angelo State vs. Colorado School of Mines: Both teams are looking to add to their program's history books. This is the Orediggers first-ever trip to the quarterfinals, so they would love to make their first-ever trip to the semifinals next week. The Rams are rolling on a program-best seven-game win streak and looking to reach No. 8. 

Click or tap here to view the full 2021 DII football bracket. And for a printable version of the bracket, go here.

Winners will advance to the semifinals on Dec. 11. The final is the week after, Dec. 18.