Ferris State downs Valdosta State to win the 2021 DII football championship

Ferris State downs Valdosta State to capture 2021 national championship
Ferris State downs Valdosta State to capture 2021 national championship(Source: NCAA)
Published: Dec. 19, 2021 at 1:21 AM EST
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MCKINNEY, Tx. (WALB) - This one was all that was advertised. Valdosta State and Ferris State entered the DII football championship game with the two best offenses in DII — and the Bulldogs showed why on a frigid night from McKinney, Texas. In the end, Ferris State won 58-17 to win the 2021 national championship, it’s first in program history.

First-quarter fireworks

This was going to be a battle between two of the best quarterbacks in DII football. Jared Bernhardt, who had a 200-yard, five-touchdown performance in the semifinals, picked up where he left off. Bernhardt busted a 56-yard touchdown run on the Bulldogs’ first play from scrimmage. He finished the first quarter with 116 yards and two touchdowns.

Not to be outdone, Ivory Durham led the Blazers in rushing while passing for 89 yards and two touchdowns in the first quarter. It was quite the opposite of the Ferris State attack, which didn’t attempt a single pass in the first quarter and led after the first 15 minutes, 20-17. It was the most points scored in the first quarter in DII football championship history.

Ferris State’s offensive line takes over

Ferris State’s offensive line is the collective MVP of this game. They really showed what a huge advantage they are — quite literally, averaging 307 pounds per lineman. They plowed the way for big play after big play — nine over 10 yards to be precise. The Bulldogs only needed to throw the ball twice in the first half and racked up 318 yards rushing with three different Bulldogs — Bernhardt, Jeremy Burrell and Tyler Minor — scoring touchdowns.

Those two passes? They were thrown by backup Mylik Mitchell who came into the game as Bernhardt tended to a dinged up ankle. One was incomplete, the other was a 47-yard touchdown pass to Tyrese Hunt-Thompson as the first half wound down.

Bulldogs finally call themselves champions

Ferris State has been on a run like no other. 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 only thing that eluded Ferris State was the title… until now.

Durham couldn’t find a rhythm after a two-touchdown first quarter and was scrambling much of the second half. That led to him just missing on some throws. It was also Valdosta State’s lowest rushing total of the season and least points scored all year.

Ferris State is your 2021 DII football national champion, finishing the season a perfect 14-0.

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