Ferris State, Valdosta State Carry Top Offenses into National Championship
MCKINNEY, TEXAS — Ferris State will take on Valdosta State in the Div. 2 National Championship on Saturday in McKinney, Texas, marking the second time in three seasons the two football teams will meet in the championship game.
The Blazers won the high-scoring national championship game, 49-47, in 2018. The Bulldogs now hope to bounce back from that loss and win their first national title in football.
The two teams feature the top two offenses in the nation, with Valdosta State averaging 527.2 yards per game and Ferris State averaging 506.2 yards per game.
They also feature two of the top rushing attacks in Div. 2 football, with less than a yard separating the two squads in average rushing yards per game (Valdosta State at 267 ypg and Ferris State at 266.3 ypg).
Ferris State quarterback Jared Bernhardt led the team in rushing this season with 1,268 yards and 23 touchdowns on the ground. Running back Tyler Minor added 737 rushing yards and nine touchdowns.
Valdosta State features a three-headed rushing attack, with Seth McGill (1,206 yards and 14 TDs) and Jamar Thomkins (965 yards and 9 TDs) back from the 2018 team. Their quarterback Ivory Durham has rushed for 967 yards and 13 TDs as well, on top of throwing for 3,267 yards and 30 TDs this season.
“You’re gonna see two quarterbacks that can really do unbelievable things with their legs on Saturday night,” Ferris State head coach Tony Annese said. “Their running backs are the same ones (from 2018). They’ve been both 1,000 yard rushers this year, so it’s a different system but it’s still a very explosive system.”
Ferris State’s defense could play a factor in this game. The Bulldogs are ranked No. 15 in the nation in rushing defense, allowing 94.6 yards per game on the ground. Valdosta State, on the other hand, has allowed 167.6 rushing yards per game this season, ranked 107th in Div. 2 football.
The Bulldogs’ defense knows that the conversation will be based around the offense, and they’re okay with that.
“Our offense is elite. You know, we’ve always been really known for that,” Ferris State defensive end Caleb Murphy said. “My coach always tells us, ‘Our fans come to see touchdowns. They don’t come to see stops, you know? So, it’s always okay.”
Ferris State and Valdosta State will kick off the 2021 national championship game at 9 p.m. EST on Saturday in McKinney, Texas.