Kevin McDermott photo
MANKATO, Minn. – Ferris State will play for the 2018 Division II NCAA Football title next week after beating Minnesota State-Mankato 42-25 during Saturday’s semifinal game.
The third-seeded Bulldogs (15-0) will make their first NCAA Championship appearance and play No. 1 seed Valdosta State on Dec. 15 in McKinney, Texas.
FSU pulled away in the fourth quarter by scoring 14 unanswered points during the game’s final five minutes.
Only 5-of-12 on third-down conversions, the Bulldogs picked up first downs on third-and-1, third-and-3 and third-and-6, and capped a 73-yard drive with Marvin Campbell’s 1-yard touchdown run. Jackson Dieterle’s extra point kick at 5:10 made it 35-25.
No. 2 seed Minnesota State (13-1) fumbled on first down during its next drive. One play after Sam Girodat’s recovery, Derrick Portis gave FSU a 41-25 lead with a 19-yard TD run with 4:57 remaining.
It was 7-7 early after MSU’s JD Ekowa and FSU’s Marvin Campbell traded touchdowns. Campbell scored on a 40-yard run. Ferris State quarterback Jayru Campbell answered a Maverick field goal with a 27-yard TD pass to Malik Taylor at 1:51 of the first quarter. The Bulldogs led 14-10 at halftime.
Ferris State, which led the rest of the way, went ahead 20-10 at 9:25 of the second quarter on a 2-yard TD run by Sy Barnett. MSU-Mankato cut it to 21-19 on a 27-yard touchdown pass and 41-yard field goal during the final 48 seconds of the first half.
Jayru Campbell completed a 55-yard touchdown pass to Dion Earls with 1:46 remaining in the third quarter to help the Bulldogs extend their lead to 28-19.
Jayru Campbell was 16-of-25 for 251 yards passing and totaled 19 carries for 115 yards. Barnett led Bulldog receivers with four catches for 91 yards, and Earls had three for 78.
Marvin Campbell finished with nine carries for 60 yards. Ferris State compiled 457 total yards to MSU’s 469.
Austin Edwards led FSU’s defense with 10 tackles. Cyntell Williams 24 had eight tackles.
Ekowa was 9-of-26 passing for 172 yards for MSU, and Ryan Schlichte was 9-of-22 for 114 yards.
In the other NCAA semifinal, three-time NCAA champion Valdosta State defeated Notre Dame (Ohio), 30-24.