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Ferris State Football Rolls Valdosta State 58-17 to Win First Ever NCAA D-II National Title

MCKINNEY, Texas – After leading 41-17 at halftime, No. 1 Ferris State football dominated its way to a 58-17 win over No. 2 Valdosta State in the 2021 NCAA Division II National Championship at McKinney ISD Stadium in Texas to capture the program’s first ever national title on Saturday night.

The Bulldogs completed the perfect season, ending 2021 undefeated at 14-0 as the best team in D-II college football.

Head coach Tony Annese was hired 10 years ago on Wednesday. He will now return to Big Rapids with his first ever national title as head of the Ferris State program.

The Bulldogs have made five-straight trips to the national quarterfinals, four of which have led to the semifinals and two to the national championship game.

The last was in 2018, when the Bulldogs fell to Valdosta State 49-47. But, the team prevailed this time around in the rematch of the Div. II powerhouses.

Ferris State’s Road to 2021 National Champions
Findlay 54-14
Ashland 45-10
Saginaw Valley State 47-45
Davenport 38-0
Northwood 67-25
Grand Valley State 35-28
Michigan Tech 38-10
Northern Michigan 44-24
Davenport 50-14
Wayne State 35-13

Grand Valley State 54-20
Northwest Missouri St. 41-20
Shepherd 55-7

Valdosta State 58-17

The Bulldogs capped off an impressive postseason run, winning all of their games by double digits.

Former Lacrosse Player of the Year and star quarterback Jared Bernhardt lived up to the hype on the big stage, leading the team with 148 rushing yards and three touchdowns on the night.

Bernhardt started his electric game with a first-play, 56-yard rushing touchdown to put the Bulldogs up 7-0 in the first quarter.

Ferris totaled 318 yards rushing in the first half alone from Bernhardt, Jeremy Burrell and Tyler Minor, all of whom scored touchdowns. Burrell had a 78-yard sprint to the house and Minor carried it in for 1-yard TD.

After Bernhardt exited the game with an apparent ankle injury late in the first quarter, backup Mylik Mitchell entered the game. He finished 3-for-6 for 122 passing yards with a 47-yard touchdown pass to Tyrese Hunt-Thompson at the end of the first half.

Third-string quarterback Evan Cummins came into the game in the third quarter to rush in for a score to make it 58-17 in favor of the Bulldogs.

The victory is also sweet for two local players: Baldwin’s Brandon Childress and Onekama’s Caleb Wisniski, who get to add national champions to their resumes.