The Grand Valley State University Lakers football team, rated #1 in Division II coming into Saturday's Super Regional 3 playoff game, have bowed out of the DII race. Last year, the Lakes were undefeated until the semi-finals, where they lost to the Northwest Missouri Bearcats. This year it was the University of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs.
GVSU has had one helluva run. The seniors leave with a 51-2 record overall, including playoffs and two national championships. They were once again undefeated going into the game, but in only some of their games did they lead by big scores. This game was quite a low scoring squabble.
There were multiple interceptions on both sides and I believe the Lakers managed to block three kicks. We were watching on local access cable TV, and the GVSU broadcasters did a good job, but only had two camera angles. The officiating -- I won't call it bad, but will say it seemed uneven and downright strange from time to time. Still, GVSU benefited from the odd calls as much as was hurt, so I won't say the officials "won" the game. UMD led for most of the game. It looked like it would end 13-6 in regulation, except the Lakers managed to get a TD and extra point to tie it up with 1:04 to go in the 4th quarter.
Then OT. And then OT2. Overtime in Division II consists of putting the ball on the 25-yard line and seeing what you can do with it, then letting the other team try. UMD scored in OT2 but got their PAT blocked yet again. GVSU was marching down to score themselves... and got intercepted.
The Overall Record
I'm sure the team feels their season was cruelly cut short, but I hope that they hold their heads up high. Not much of a home crowd, what with this game played in Allendale over Thanksgiving weekend. Pulling out a tie at the "last minute" and then pushing it into two overtimes, this isn't about giving up easily. Let's call this a quality defeat.
Grand Valley is still one of the top couple of programs in DII football and they will be back in the hunt next year for sure. Frankly, the annual DII playoffs are quite the contest, because those couple of top programs keep coming back at you year after year.
That you can count on.