ALLENDALE - Nyzier Fourqurean had three interceptions in the biggest game of the year.
But none bigger than picking off a pass with 55 seconds left in a close game to seal it.
The Grand Valley State cornerback helped the Lakers beat Northwest Missouri State 13-8 on Saturday afternoon in the second round of the NCAA Division II football playoffs.
“The biggest one for me was definitely the last one; just sealing the game,” said Fourqurean, a sophomore from Mentor, Ohio. “About those picks, I just have to thank the guys up front. They make my job so much easier on the back end.”
GVSU, the No. 1 team in the country, improves to 12-0 and advances to play Ferris State next week for the second time this season.
“I knew there was a chance that this could happen,” GVSU coach Matt Mitchell said of playing Ferris. “It’s going to be highly contested like it always is. Beating them the first time, I know that at least we’ll have confidence when we take the field. They’re a good football team.”
On Saturday, running back Tariq Reid, a junior from Davison, scored both touchdowns for the Lakers.
“We scored on our first possession and our last possession,” Mitchell said. “In between, it was probably frustrating at times because we weren’t moving the ball.”
Reid’s 4-yard run with 1:50 remaining in the first quarter gave the Lakers a 7-0 lead.
After that, it was a series of frustrating events for the Lakers.
They were stopped on a 4th-and-1 inside the 5-yard line in the first half. Northwest Missouri State scored on a 34-yard field goal by Cole Lammel in the third quarter. The Lakers were called for a safety later in the third to make it 7-5.
Lammel put the Bearcats ahead 8-7 with a 25-yard field goal with 3:49 left in the game.
“We’ve been down in the fourth quarter now three times … It’s just a group that never fractures,” Mitchell said. “There’s no one pointing fingers on the sideline. There’s never anybody who believes that we can’t get it done.”
Including quarterback Cade Peterson. He connected with receiver Jahdae Walker on an impressive 52-yard strike to put the Lakers at the NW Missouri State 11-yard line.
“Jahdae made a great play and caught the ball when we needed it most,” Peterson said.
Two plays later, Reid ran the ball in from seven yards out for the game winner with 1:55 to go in the game. The Lakers attempted a 2-point conversion, but it failed.
“It’s obviously a good feeling,” said Reid, who now has 18 touchdowns. “I’m just glad because there were a few short stops where I didn’t get in on. It’s huge for me. To know that Coach Woo (Scott Wooster) and Coach V (Matt Vitzhum) trusted me to make plays. That’s big.”
Reid finished with 15 carries for 98 yards. Peterson, who ran 13 times for 78 yards, was 9-of-23 passing for 173 yards. Walker had three catches for 87 yards.
The GVSU defense, which entered the game giving up just 714 rushing yards all season, held Northwest Missouri to just 53 yards on the ground.
“When you take a look at those eight points, two of those aren’t on our defense,” Mitchell said of the safety. “We basically gave up six. Just to go into a playoff game and give up six points (that’s impressive).”
GVSU beat Ferris State 22-21 on Oct. 15 up in Big Rapids. But Saturday’s game will be in Allendale.
This article originally appeared on The Holland Sentinel: GVSU football hung on to set up showdown with rival Ferris State