The Delta State University Statesmen played with a great deal of heart here Saturday evening at Parker Field-McCool Stadium against the Grand Valley State University Lakers, but it wasn’t enough as they fell to the eighth-ranked Lakers 21-10.
The Statesmen fell to 0-2, while the Lakers improved to 2-0.
In the loss, the Statesmen put up 325 yards of offense, including 215 yards on the ground. The Statesmen also had to play most of the contest without starting quarterback Breck Ruddick, who left the game early in the first quarter with an injury.
Delta State head football coach Todd Cooley expressed how proud he was of his team’s effort against a good Grand Valley squad.
“That was a good college football game, and we fought hard,” said Cooley. “That’s a good team. We made a lot of improvements from week one to week two, and I’m proud of our football team right now.”
The beginning of the game resembled a heavyweight boxing match as both teams’ defenses played well keeping the offenses at bay. The Statesmen defense held the Lakers to only one first down in the first quarter and 97 total yards in the first half.
The Statesmen managed to get on the board first following a seven play, 32-yard drive that culminated in a 47-yard field goal from Taylor Crabtree with 3:05 left in the first quarter for a 3-0 lead.
Delta State’s defense continued to play well, but in the second quarter, the Lakers’ special teams made a huge impact when they managed to block a punt from the Statesmen to get the ball at the 23-yard line.
The Statesmen stopped the drive and forced a field goal attempt from the Lakers, which they made, but on the attempt, the Statesmen were flagged for roughing the kicker and gave the Lakers new life on the five-yard line.
On the next play, Chawntez Moss burst in the end zone on a five-yard touchdown run with 3:34 remaining in the second quarter. The kick after from J.J. McGrafth was good for a 7-3 Grand Valley lead.
The game remained locked at 7-3 at the half. The third quarter saw the Lakers take a 14-3 lead thanks to a muffed punt from Delta State’s Brandon Rodgers that gave Grand Valley possession at the 22-yard line.
The excellent field position resulted in an 11-yard touchdown pass from Bart Williams to Austin Paritee with 7:07 remaining in the third quarter. The kick from McGraft was good for a 14-3 lead.
Later in the third, Delta State freshman Patrick Shegog, who took over for the injured Ruddick, put the Statesmen on the board with a 45-yard run with 2:41 in the third quarter. Crabtree added the point after for a 14-10 game.
The Lakers added a key insurance touchdown in the fourth quarter as Williams found Paritee again on a 31-yard touchdown pass with 12:01 left to play. McGraft’s point-after kick was good to give the Lakers a 21-10 lead.
That would be all the Lakers needed to secure the victory, as the Statesmen could not manage to put any other points on the board.
Delta State had opportunities in the game, but Crabtree missed a 46-yard field goal attempt in the first quarter and a 37-yard field goal attempt in the third quarter.
Coach Cooley also felt the team left plays on the field as well as a few calls that didn’t quite go the way the team would have liked.
“We felt like there were a couple of things that could have gone our way, it didn’t, and we made too many mistakes to beat a team like that,” Cooley said. “We played with a lot of energy, and we will be a tired football team tomorrow (Sunday) because we left it all out there and that is all we can ask.”
Shegog led the Statesmen’s offense by completing 12-of-30 passes for 101 yards with one interception while rushing for 85 yards on 18 carries with a touchdown. Kelon Wilson added 65 rushing yards on 18 carries, and Jake McDonald hauled in three catches for 32 yards to aid DSU.
Moss led Grand Valley with 92 yards on the ground on 23 carries and a score. Jake Provencher added 89 yards on 19 carries; Williams completed 8-of-26 passes for 133 yards with two touchdowns and Paritee caught four passes for 62 yards with two touchdowns to aid the Lakers.
Ovenson Cledanord anchored the Delta State defense with 13 tackles including a sack. Chandler Ector added eight tackles, and Brandon Tillman added seven.
The Statesmen will be back in action Saturday in Melbourne, Fla. to open Gulf South Conference play against Florida Tech. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.