ALLENDALE, Mich. – It’s one thing to sit at home and track a D2 football game on live stats, listen via audio streams, or watch a video feed to see to how BR-2 Ferris State quarterback Jason Vander Laan can take control of the game from the air or on the ground.
Watching the reigning Harlon Hill Trophy winner pick apart a defense in person is completely different. It’s nothing short of jaw dropping.
That was on display Saturday night during our HERO Sports D2 Football Game of the Week as Vander Laan threw for 419 yards on 32-of-49 pass attempts as the Bulldogs demolished BR-32 Grand Valley State 61-24 in front of the second-largest crowd in Lubbers Stadium history, 16,121 fans.
“He’s a machine,” said Ferris State head coach Tony Annese. “He keeps on battling and grinding. Physically he can carry the load for us and he set their defense up to stop their run.”
The turning point of the game came with 11:46 left in the first half and the Bulldogs clinging to a 14-10 lead. With a first-and-10 from midfield, Vander Laan fired a picture perfect pass to Jake Lampman that seemingly shifted momentum towards Ferris, a play that earned the senior signal caller from Frankfurt, Ill. and Lampman, the senior wideout from East Lansing, Mich. our HERO Sports D2 Football Highlight of the Week.
“I saw the matchup out there, where we had a one-on-one out there where they didn’t cover one of our guys,” Vander Laan said. “Once we saw the safety coming over and you’ve you see they’ve got to post with Jake, he’s got good wheels on him and he’s fast so I just threw it up there and let him run under it.”
Grand Valley freshman defensive back Jacob Studdard found that out the hard way.
Vander Laan took the snap from midfield out of the shotgun, then took a five step drop to the Ferris 40. From there, the reigning Harlon Hill Trophy winner unleashed a perfect teardrop pass to Lampman, who had broken free from Studdard.
Lampman was two yards ahead of Studdard when he hauled in the pass along the left hashmark at the Grand Valley 20 and took off towards the far side of the endzone.
“When they called that specific play, we knew it was going to be there,” Lampman said. “It was good so see us connect on that.”
The timing on that plan comes from constant preparation, to which Lampman credits Annese and his coaching staff.
“Our coaches do a great job of preparing us every week,” Lampman said. “They check the defense to make sure we’re in the right play for the right moment. They have a lot of great preparation that they put us through.”
With the Bulldogs off to a 2-0 start and having won their last 16 GLIAC regular season games (their only loss in the last 18 games since a 45-38 loss at Hillsdale on Oct. 19, 2013 was to Ohio Dominican in the second round of last year’s NCAA playoffs), it’s become pick your poison when it comes to stopping the Ferris offense.
“We like to diversify our offense a lot,” Lampman said. “If people think we’re going to run one game, we might torch them in the air. If people think we’re going to pass in another game, Jason and our tailbacks (Jahaan Brown and Robert Thomas III) are great runners, our slots (Antonio Agurs and Jajuan Pollock) are great runners. “We have a lot of threats on both sides of the run/pass.”
And that could spell trouble for opposing defenses, both in the GLIAC and in Super Region 4.
To see all six Vander Laan TDs, check out the full game tape below: