Ferris State Falls to Valdosta State in NCAA Division II National Championship

MCKINNEY, Texas – Ferris State’s bid for its first NCAA Division II football national championship came up short Saturday evening.

Making its first-ever appearance in the national title game, Ferris State fell to Valdosta State 49-47 in an offensive shootout at McKinney ISD Stadium.

Trailing 49-41 with 2:17 remaining in the fourth quarter, 2018 Harlon Hill Trophy winner and junior quarterback Jayru Campbell executed a drive that was capped off by Sy Barnett’s 5-yard touchdown run on second-and-goal. Jevon Shaw’s pass attempt in the back of the end zone for the two-point conversion failed.

The national championship is Valdosta State’s fourth and first since winning the 2012 title. The Blazers were appearing in their fifth title game on Saturday.

After a back-and-forth opening half, Ferris State (15-1) took a 31-28 lead on a 2-yard touchdown run on the opening possession of the second half. The Blazers would respond with 14-unanswered points to take a 42-31 lead late in the third quarter.

Campbell completed 10-of-18 passing for 99 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Campbell also rushed for a team-best 122 yards and a score on 22 attempts. The junior quarterback became Ferris State’s second athlete to win the Harlon Hill Trophy on Friday and first since Jason Vander Laan won back-to-back awards in 2014 and 2015.

Valdosta State quarterback and 2018 Harlon Hill Trophy finalist Rogan Wells was 19-of-31 for 349 yards and five touchdowns. He also caught a 25-yard score.

Trailing 24-21 with five seconds remaining in the second half, Seth McGill put Valdosta State (14-0) ahead 28-24 at the break on a 1-yard dive on fourth-and-goal after consecutive goal-line stops by Ferris State.

After Valdosta State missed a 31-yard field goal attempt on the opening drive of the game, Shaw found Keyondre Craig for an 80-yard touchdown on a double pass on Ferris State’s first play from scrimmage.

Jackson Dieterle’s 52-yard field goal with 2:18 remaining in the first quarter gave the Bulldogs a 10-7 lead heading into the second quarter.

Ferris State outgained Valdosta State on the ground 270-122 but was outgained in total offense 496-449.

Ferris State’s postseason run featured wins over Harding (21-19), six-time national champion Northwest Missouri State (27-21), Ouachita Baptist (37-14) and top-ranked Minnesota State (42-25). The Bulldogs also claimed their third Great Lake Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship since 2013 and first since 2015.