Tradition • Character • Service

Tradition • Character • Service

Friday, September 09, 2005

Chargers set to Battle Bulldogs

Saturday September 10, 2:30 Pm
Muddy Waters Stadium

The Bulldogs of Ferris State come to Hillsdale this Saturday for what should be a very festive day of GLIAC football. Not only is it homecoming, but the undefeated 1955 Dales will celebrate the 50th anniversary of one of the greatest seasons in Hillsdale football history. The 1985 National Champion Chargers will celebrate the 20th anniversary of their feat and College Football Hall of Famer Frank "Muddy" Waters will be on hand as well.

Both clubs enter the game at 0-2 overall and in the GLIAC. Stat wise things look pretty tight and any apparent Hillsdale advantage though has to be taken with a grain of salt considering that Ferris' stats include the always joyful task of opening the season in Lubbers Stadium against Grand Valley. The other Bulldog loss came to Ashland last Saturday in their home opener.

The Matchup:

Scoring: Hillsdale-17.5 points per game, GLIAC rank:8, Ferris St-15.5 points per game, GLIAC rank:11
Scoring Defense: Hillsdale-23 points per game, GLIAC rank:8, Ferris St-27 points per game, GLIAC rank:9
Total Offense: Hillsdale-249 yards per game, GLIAC rank:13, Ferris St-255 yards per game, GLIAC rank:12
Total Defense: Hillsdale-322.5 yards per game, GLIAC rank:6, Ferris St-354.5 yards per game, GLIAC rank:9
Rushing: Hillsdale-140 yards per game, GLIAC rank:8, Ferris St-89.5 yards per game, GLIAC rank:13
Passing: Hillsdale-109.5 yards per game, GLIAC rank:11, Ferris St-165.5 yards per game, GLIAC rank:7
Rushing Defense: Hillsdale-157 yards per game, GLIAC rank:5, Ferris St-195 yards per game, GLIAC rank:9
Pass Defense: Hillsdale-165 yards per game, GLIAC rank:6, Ferris St-159 yards per game, GLIAC rank:5

Quarterbacks: Both signal callers will be looking to get back to form and bring several similarities into the game. Hillsdale's Aaron Scholl had a rough start to the season with 5 picks in 2 games, but hopefully some home cooking will help him get his bearings and return to old form. His threat as a rusher should keep the Dawgs honest, but Scholl and the Chargers will be looking to get TE Keith Recker and deeper receivers more into the mix. Scholl's numbers: 19/37 for 219 yards, 2 TD, 89 rushing yards. Ferris' Ryan Kaul has thrown nearly as many interceptions as Scholl, surrendering 4 so far this year. He has also has 2 TD and has rushed for 93 yards. Kaul's numbers: 31/68 331 yards.

Receivers: Both schools feature pre-season All Americans in Recker and the Bulldog's Carlton Brewster. Both Charger and Bulldog fans have been vocal about wanting to see both of these guys more involved in their respective gameplans. Recker only has 3 catches for 29 yards so far and Brewster is catching 5 1/2 balls per game. Last week against Ashland, the Bulldogs found themselves down 22-0 before Brewster led a 21-2 comeback attempt with 2 touchdown receptions. The Chargers' Bill Brown leads Hillsdale receivers with 3 catches for 54 yards and a touchdown.

Running Game: Hillsdale appears to have the advantage here, IF Phil Martin can bounce back from an injury that held him out of most of the second half against Findlay. On the season, Martin has rushed for 153 yards on 29 carries and has 2 touchdowns. He was completely stifled in the opener at Indianapolis but exploded in the first half against Findlay. The Charger run game hit skid row when Martin and offensive lineman Ike Dougherty went down. A healthy Dougherty will add a lot to the Charger run game. Ferris features Shawn Grigg who has carried 25 times for 97 yards and a touchdown.

Defense: Both Hillsdale and Ferris' defenses have seen the field more than either would like this year.

Both have been beaten in the time of possession battle by an average of 10 minutes per game. The Charger defense did a much better job last week getting off the field, compared to the opener at Indy when the Greyhounds controlled the ball for 41 minutes. Last week Hillsdale improved greatly, out-possessing Findlay 32 minutes to 28. Limiting Brewster's touches and playing strongly on 3rd down will be key.

Last week Eric Weber, Andy Dion and the rest of the defensive line came up huge time after time, getting off the field and getting the offense the ball. The Chargers' 7 sacks rank 3rd in the GLIAC and Weber's 3 individual sacks tie him for the league lead with 2 other players. The improvement up-front has been tremendous and should help to pressure Kaul into bad decisions while stifling an offense averaging less than 90 yards per game of production.

Linebacker Mark Scott currently ranks 3rd in the GLIAC with 24 stops. The linebacking corps as a whole has used young and veteran players to solidify the defense. Chad Gurica on Brewster should be a fun matchup to watch in the secondary.

Ferris' Mike Klobucher and Jake Visser lead the Bulldog defense with 23 and 22 stops respectively.

Special Teams: Like the defensive line, the Chargers have excelled on special teams. Nick Gurica is leading the GLIAC in punt returns with a 14 yard average. Nick's brother Chad has done a lot to put the Chargers 2nd in kickoff returns with a 30.6 yard average. Gurica's 95 yard touchdown against Indianapolis sparked a huge turn-around that brought Hillsdale back from a sluggish first half. Phil Martin has 104 return yards and his health will be a factor here as well. Matt Van Over continues to be one of the GLIAC's top punters, currently ranked 2nd statistically with a 37.5 yard average. Let's just hope he gets fewer and fewer chances to see the field.

The Skinny: This should be an interesting game to watch. both teams know that resurrecting their seasons require huge efforts on Saturday. Despite being 0-2, the Chargers should have a hop in their steps as they christen the new turf while being surrounded by legends who helped make Hillsdale one of the great programs in small college history. Injuries could play a role, but in all it should be a great day for football, a bit warm maybe, but I guarantee there will be plenty of refreshment in the parking lot.

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