Defense Sets Tone Before Offense Comes Alive In Annual Spring Contest

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The Ferris State University defensive units set the tone early, but the offense for both teams came alive as the contest progressed in the annual Ferris State University Crimson & Gold Spring Football Game Friday (April 24) evening at FSU's Top Taggart Field in Big Rapids, Mich.

Tom Schneider
Sophomore Tom Schneider helped account for four scores in Friday's Crimson and Gold Spring Football Game (Photo by Sandy Gholston)

The Gold/White team, which wore white uniforms for the game, built a 19-0 halftime advantage and recorded a 40-23 victory over the Crimson squad. The two teams were divided prior to the contest by the coaching staff with veterans and returning starters on both teams. A running clock was used in the second half.

"We saw a lot of intensity out there tonight and it was a lot of fun," said FSU head coach Jeff Pierce, who will start his 15th year at the Bulldog helm this fall. "The defense played well early in the first half, but the offense was able to get it clicking as the game went on.

"Overall, a number of guys really stepped up and progressed this spring and we're excited about how they performed."

Sophomore quarterback Tom Schneider (Jerome/Addison) helped account for four touchdowns in leading the winning team. He ran for two scores, threw a nine-yard TD pass to sophomore receiver Damien Miller (Elsie/Ovid-Elsie) and also caught a 20-yard touchdown reception from redshirt freshman quarterback Robert Banaszak (Rockford). The 6-3 Banaszak added a three-yard scoring pass to senior receiver DeAndrie Rogers (Detroit/Pershing) for the white squad while splitting time with Schneider as the signal caller.

After three scoreless drives to open the game, Schneider led the white team to the first points of the game by directing a 10-play drive covering 55 yards, which was capped by his nine-yard scoring pass to Miller. The white defense then forced the crimson squad to punt and Banaszak directed a short 33-yard march featuring a 20-yard TD pass to Schneider from a wideout position.

The white team increased its lead to 19-0 at halftime as newcomer Dwayne Williams scampered to paydirt from 57-yards away with only 3:23 to go in the half. The quick two-play drive was setup by an interception from senior defensive back Chad Wilson (Howell) and Williams accounted for all 66 yards on the drive.

In the second half, the White team took the first possession and drove 66 yards in six plays with Schneider keeping the ball on the final play for a 19-yard scoring run to push the advantage to 26-0 only three minutes into the third quarter.

The crimson team, which was directed by senior quarterback Kyle Parrish (Garden Grove, Calif./Santiago) finally cracked the scoring column with 6:28 left in the third as sophomore kicker Shawn Snoor (Diamondale/Holt) converted a 44-yard field goal following a 10-play drive that went for 65 yards. Soon after, junior linebacker Kyle Fitzpatrick (Vestaburg) intercepted a Schneider pass and the crimson tallied their first touchdown of the night on a 21-yard run by Aaron Olman (Grandville). Parrish ran twice for first downs and also completed a nine-yard pass to setup Olman's TD capping a short four-play drive going for 53 yards.

As they did in the third quarter, though, the white team opened the final period with another TD as Banaszak found Rogers from three-yards away. The scoring pass finished a 65-yard drive in six plays to give the white squad a 33-9 edge.

Olman added another touchdown run for the crimson team from 25 yards away with 9:58 remaining to cut the deficit to 33-16, but Schneider answered by directing a 65-yard scoring drive in six plays culminating in his own 20-yard run to account for the white team's final points. Parrish completed the game's scoring by finding redshirt freshman receiver Kevin Guirand (Antioch, Ill./Lakes Community) on a one-yard TD strike with 4:24 left in the outing.

While the offensive units managed to score 63 points in the outing, the defensive units did combine to produce five turnovers with four interceptions and a fumble recovery. Additionally, two PAT's were also blocked and the defense forced the offense to punt on four of the first five possessions of the game, including the opening three times the offense touched the ball.

The contest represented the conclusion of Ferris' spring practice session.

"This was the grand finale of our spring work," said Pierce. "Our guys have put in a lot of time dedicating themselves to being college football players since last season ended and this is a good way to head into our summer program. I feel confident in the work ethic and commitment they've shown and we have plenty of talent so we've excited about the fall."

Ferris State will kickoff its 101st season of varsity competition Saturday, Aug. 29, against the Tiffin (Ohio) Dragons in a 7 p.m. (EDT) non-conference contest at Top Taggart Field. The game will take place during FSU "Welcome Week" activities and be part of a true "Community Football Day" atmosphere as Big Rapids High School will also open its 2009 season versus Holton earlier in the day in the same facility and a rocket football contest will be part of the FSU halftime events.

The Bulldogs, who will play an 11-game regular-season schedule, open GLIAC action the following Saturday, Sept. 5, at home versus the Ashland Eagles with kickoff also set for 7 p.m. (EDT). The game will be part of the area's annual Riverdays Festival with the traditional Fireworks Night festivities taking place following the contest.

Ferris State registered its fifth winning season in the last six years with a 6-5 overall record in 2008. It represented the program's ninth winning campaign in 14 years under Pierce and marked the 14th time in the last 20 years the Bulldogs have finished above .500 for the year. FSU was an even 5-5 in GLIAC action during the '08 campaign, which represented the program's 100th season of varsity competition.

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