Dissed By ESPN
The sports cable giant scheduled the game for broadcast at 4pm. Alas, at 4pm they were still showing the Ohio State vs. St. Joseph NCAA basketball game. Gee, there's two teams which West Michigan would really want to follow. Finally the basketball ends and they flip to Florence AL where nearly seven minutes have run off the clock and twenty plays. Score is still 0-0 but that's about to change.
No introductions, no pageantry of a Championship Game. What a gyp.
Furthermore, my feelings of being dissed are not alone. The Grand Rapids Press reported this morning that ESPN had guaranteed full local coverage for West Michigan and Northwest Missouri. It didn't happen. Kickoff was scheduled for 4:08pm, but ESPN was allowed a five-minute window to allow for the basketball game to run long, so it could've been 4:13pm. This didn't happen.
In fact, they didn't even post a notice saying that the D-II game was coming until the last minute, so anyone tuning in wasn't sure if ESPN was even going to cover it for sure.
Enough of the Grousing! On With the Game!
Two top defenses in NCAA D-II football, so what happens? NWMoSt takes the opening kickoff and spends a little over seven minutes marching down the field in like 21 plays and it's 7-0. GVSU takes the kickoff and in fewer minutes and fewer plays, it's tied 7-7. Then in the first few minutes of the second quarter it's 14-7 Bearcats. Grand Valley looks to have intercepted a Bearcat pass, but for the first time ever, Instant Replay is used in a non-Division I-A football game and it is ruled not a catch. Not so sure about that. Not happy with the officiating in the first half.
Dissed By ESPN Part 2
With the score 14-7, the commentators were talking "upset". There was a whole 'nother half to play and it was WAY too early to talk "upset" or "runaway". Later in the game they started talking about the Cinderella run by NWMoSt through the playoffs, which maybe explained -- but not excused -- their apparent non-neutrality against the Lakers.
Fact is, both teams held two national titles in the past eight years and this was a title game. The Grand Valley coach described his opponents as "like looking in a mirror". It was a close game and the coverage should've been about that.
The Second Half
The Lakers finally tied it 14-all with 2:15 left in the third quarter. After a first half with somewhat free-ranging offenses, the defenses stiffened in the second half. Fourth quarter -- NWMoSt goes up 17-14. GVSU's answering FG attempt is "wide right".
Then Grand Valley takes the lead for the first time, 21-14 with 4:25 remaining. Now the nail biting gets really bad.
The Last Second
The Bearcats have the ball with 0:01 on the clock. It's 4th and 15 on the 22-yard line. It's down to one play. The QB gets away from the rush, then throws across the field from right to left. It's a catch at the 5 yard line -- and two Lakers pretty much keep him from taking a step.
GVSU-21 NWMoSt-17, undefeated Grand Valley (13-0) is once again NCAA Division II National Champions.