4-5 Grand Valley State football team displays plenty of pride

Midway through the third quarter Saturday night, November 8, Grand Valley State University quarterback Heath Parling fired a pass about 40 yards down the field.
Jamie Potts was the intended receiver, but as the play developed, it appeared as though Potts and the ball would not arrive at the same place — near the 25-yard line — at the same time.
So, like any wide receiver worth his salt, especially a preseason Division II All-America pick, Potts left his feet, stretched out and attempted to catch the ball.
Not quite. The ball caromed off his fingertips and skidded several more yards down the field as Potts picked himself up.
It was a valiant effort indeed, but one that needed not be so valiant. You see, Grand Valley already had a 42-0 lead against visiting Tiffin University at Grand Valley’s Lubbers Stadium, so the yards and the (assumed) ensuing touchdown would have been more of a formality that a necessity.
Ah, but for a team that had been embarrassed at home a week earlier by a lesser foe, for a team that had muddled its way to a 4-5 record after reaching the postseason tournament’s national semifinal game a year earlier, a sub-.500 season was a disappointment.
On this particular night, which ended with Grand Valley winning 42-7, pride was on the line for a number of seniors who were playing their final home game as Lakers.
Parling was one of them. He responded by passing for 254 yards and four touchdowns while running for 40 yards and two more touchdowns, the first two rushing touchdowns in his five-year collegiate career. Parling was red-shirted in 2012 when he suffered a season-ending knee injury in the third game of that season.
Parling joked about his first touchdown, a 22-yard scamper, the longest run of his career, that ended when he dived over the pylon at the front-left corner of the end zone.
“I kind of scrambled out to the left and I thought there was a guy behind me so I was like, man I’ve got to run faster, I’ve got to get the jets going, I’ve got to oil up my brace a little bit,” Parling said with a winning smile on his face.
“When I saw the corner I told myself I was going to dive in. I’ve never done this at Grand Valley, so it felt good. I had that planned from about the 10-yard line.”
Yeah, right. You can joke after winning 42-7.
Senior runningback Chris Robinson had a great ground game, rushing for 126 yards. He also caught a 49-yard pass from Parling for a touchdown, one of two catches he had Saturday for 62 yards.
“It’s definitely huge to go out with a win in our last home game,” Robinson said. “We have a very competitive team here and just because things didn’t go our way this year, we’re not going to put our tails between our legs.”
Grand Valley coach Matt Mitchell, who guided the Lakers to the Division II playoffs a year ago for the first time since his first year as head coach (2010), said he didn’t think there was a need for extra motivation just because Grand Valley entered the Tiffin game at 4-5.
“I think, basically, if you’re a competitive person, every time you head out you want to play and compete,” Mitchell said. “I would think these guys have a passion for football and they want to play the game.
I understand our record isn’t what we wanted it to be, but that doesn’t matter; if you’re a competitive kid, you want to go out and play. They weren’t going to not go out and compete because of the record.”
And the Lakers didn’t as they rolled up 572 yards of offense and controlled the ball for one second shy of 30 minutes.
Now THAT is Grand Valley football. And that’s why a guy like Jamie Potts was diving for an uncatchable ball with a 42-point lead.


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