Story and photo courtesy of Grand Valley State Athletics
ALLENDALE, Mich. - The first game at the newly-renovated Lubbers Stadium provided a plethora of offense, resulting in an 83-46 victory for the seventh-ranked Grand Valley State football team on Saturday (Sept. 8) in front of a crowd of 15,139, the second-biggest in Lubbers Stadium history.
The first game ever at Lubbers Stadium, in 1973, was a 27-14 win over Kalamazoo College. Saturday's game against Notre Dame College provided a considerable larger amount of offense as the Lakers scored the second-most points in school history (vs Valparaiso, 91 points in 1989) and the two teams combined for 129 points, the most ever combined in a game in school history.
It only took the Lakers 1:18 to get on the board in the 2012 home opener as sophomore Chris Robinson plunged in from two yards out to give GVSU a 7-0 lead early in the first.
The two teams exchanged blows back-and-forth in the first quarter, as Pedro Powell scored from 34 yards out to tie it at seven and the Lakers responded with another touchdown run, this one by sophomore Michael Ratay, to take a 14-7 lead. As the first quarter expired, Powell went in from one yard out to make it a 14-all game after the first quarter.
After Robinson scored his second touchdown of the game just 2:40 in to the second quarter, the Laker defense was able to finally stop the Falcons, as junior Luther Ware recovered an errant option pitch on Notre Dame's 17 yard line. It only took one play for junior quarterback Heath Parling to find senior receiver Charles Johnson to take a 28-14 lead.
The GVSU flurry continued as the first Notre Dame play on the ensuing drive resulted in a diving interception by junior cornerback Reggie Williams, who jumped the curl route at Notre Dame's 23 yard-line.
Again, it took the Lakers only one play to put it in the endzone as Parling found Ratay with a 23-yard touchdown pass to make it a 35-14 game that GVSU wouldn't look back in.
The Falcons were able to get two more rushing touchdowns out of Powell in the first half, but they were sandwiched around two more Laker touchdowns. Johnson caught his second touchdown pass of the day with 2:41 to play in the half on a 10-yard pass from Parling and Ratay hauled in a 48-yard touchdown pass on a seam route down the middle of the field with 58 seconds to play. The Lakers went in to the locker room with a 48-27 lead.
Notre Dame pulled a little closer by scoring on the first drive of the second half on a 28-yard touchdown pass, but Robinson punched in his third of four touchdowns in the game on the ensuing drive to give the Lakers a 55-33 lead.
The two teams exchanged scores one more time in the third as Ratay added his fourth touchdown of the game to make it a 62-40 score after three quarters.
GVSU kept the numbers rolling on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter, beginning with Robinson's fourth rushing touchdown of the day with 12:14 to play to make it 69-40 and then junior defensive end Denzel Rodgers made the biggest defensive play of the day, returning a fumble 82 yards for a touchdown after senior Jarrod Cox jarred the ball loose on a run up the middle.
Sophomore Ben Hutchins capped the scoring at 83-46 with a two-yard scoring plunge with 1:18 to play.
The Lakers rolled up 599 yards of total offense on 73 plays, an average of 8.2 yards per play, going for 307 through the air and 292 on the ground.
Individually, nearly every offensive starter for GVSU had a career day. Robinson finished the game with 107 yards rushing and four touchdowns, while freshman Kirk Spencer had 76 yards rushing on nine carries and Hutchins contributed 52 yards and a touchdown on five carries. Ratay had two scores and 41 yards on six totes of the ball.
Parling was 21-for-31 passing with 307 yards, four touchdowns an no interceptions. His main target was Johnson, who tied a Lubbers Stadium record with 12 catches, 138 yards and two touchdowns. Ratay crossed the century mark as well, going for 105 yards and two touchdowns on only four catches.
Junior linebacker Charles Hill had a game-high 13 tackles including a pass break-up, while freshman Brad Horling and sophomore Deonte' Hurst each had 11. Horling also had a tackle for loss and the first interception of his GVSU career, a pass he took the other way 25 yards with Notre Dame deep in GVSU territory.
Junior Erik Thompson had another big game on the return team, taking a kick back 69 yards to lead off the game, part of 91 yards on three returns. Thompson also had a kick return touchdown brought back due to holding in the second half.
Grand Valley State is now 2-0 on the year and move to 1-0 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The Falcons fall to 1-1 and 0-1 in the conference.
The Lakers will travel to Tiffin, Ohio to take on Tiffin University next Saturday (Sept. 15) at 1:30 p.m.