Story and photo courtesy of Grand Valley State Athletics
MONMOUTH, Ore. - Grand Valley State claimed a season-opening 48-20 road win over Western Oregon Saturday in Monmouth, Oregon. GVSU is now 1-0 on the year and will host Notre Dame College next Saturday at 7 p.m. in the newly renovated Lubbers Stadium.
Western Oregon opened the game strong offensively, driving 72 yards in five plays for a score on its opening possession of the game. Senior QB Cody VonAppen hit junior flanker Lucas Gonsalves with a 12-yard TD pass as the drive took just 2:20 off the clock.
The Laker offense was unable to get anything going and punted, while Western Oregon punted on its second possession.
Grand Valley State put together a sustained drive on its second possession, moving 76 yards in eight plays for a score. Junior WR Brandon Green carried the ball in from 21 yards out on a reverse for the first TD of the season for the Lakers. The Lakers rushed the ball for 69 yards on the drive that took 2:34 off the clock. Place kicker Marco Iaderosa added his first PAT of the day to tie the score at 7-7.
The Laker defense forced back-to-back punts to set up the Lakers' second score. Junior CB/PR Reggie Williams took the Wolves second punt 90 yards for a touchdown, the longest punt return for a TD in Laker football history. Iaderosa added his second PAT of the day and GVSU led 14-7 at the 5:40 mark of the first quarter.
The Laker defense forced another punt to set up GVSU's third TD of the day. Sophomore running back Chris Robinson broke off a 46-yard run and finished the 5-play, 83-yard drive with a 9-yard TD run with 25 seconds left in first quarter to up the Laker lead to 21-7.
"I thought we regrouped and stayed together following that opening score for Western Oregon," said Mitchell. "The offense did a nice job with those two long drives and obviously Reggie's (Williams) punt return for a score was big for our team."
The Laker defense had apparently held on a third-down run inside the GVSU five, but a face mask personal foul gave the Wolves new life. Running back Kenneth Haynes scored on a 3-yard run one play later to pull the Western Oregon within seven (21-14).
GVSU turned the ball over as Robinson fumbled on GVSU's own 42 yard line. The Laker defense held and forced a 30-yard field goal by Kelly Morgan.
The Laker offense answered with an 8-play, 60-yard scoring drive that highlighted redshirt freshman tight end Jamie Potts. Potts hauled in a 25-yard pass and closed the drive with a 5-yard TD reception, the first receiving TD of his career.
Western Oregon's Kelly Morgan hit a school-record 53-yard field goal with 38 seconds left in the first half to pull the Wolves within 28-20 at the half.
Grand Valley State opened the second half with an 11-play, 80-yard scoring drive. Sophomore running back Michael Ratay converted a fourth-and-one play with a 7-yard run and Robinson added his second TD of day with a 5-yard TD run to up the Laker lead to 35-20.
The Laker defense dominated Western Oregon's offense in the third quarter, holding the Wolves to two total yards on 10 plays.
Junior cornerback Michael Hatcher picked off a deflected pass midway through the third quarter and returned it 11 yards for a TD to up the Laker lead to 41-20.
Erik Thompson recorded his first interception of the year and sophomore defensive end Matt Judon picked off another deflected pass and returned it 41 yards for the final points of the afternoon for the Lakers.
"I thought our defense played much better in the second half," said Mitchell. "We ran to the ball and forced three turnovers."
GVSU's starting defense held Western Oregon to just 55 yards in the second half.
The Laker ground game rushed for 221 yards on 33 carries, highlighted by Robinson's 99 yards and two TDs on just 11 carries. Robinson also hauled in three passes for 35 yards. Ratay added 43 yards on seven carries and freshman Kirk Spencer chipped in 30 rushing yards on nine carries. GVSU junior QB Heath Parling completed 15-of-24 passes for 159 yards and one TD. Senior WR Charles Johnson caught five passes for 28 yards and had a 64 yard TD run called back because of a penalty.
Defensively, redshirt freshman safety Brad Horling led the squad with nine tackles and three tackles for loss. Junior safety Erik Thompson and junior LB Charles Hill each added eight stops.