The Saginaw Valley State University (2-0) football team shutout the Walsh University Cavaliers (0-2) 28-0 in a non-conference home opener at Harvey Randall Wickes Memorial Stadium on the SVSU campus this afternoon.
Former Arthur Hill H.S. standout Nate Moore started out strong as the feature running back with a 20 yard scamper on the first play from scrimmage for SVSU, and came back with another decent run on second down, however, he would lose the ball at the end of the play, turning it over to Walsh.
“I have to give it to the seniors and the leaders of our team,” Moore said “once I fumbled, everyone came right up to me and said, you'll be alright, we'll get it back. They just picked me up, and I went out there and continued to play.”
Despite the early fumble, Moore established himself as the clear cut workhorse back for SVSU, carrying the ball 7 times for 56 yards in the first quarter, while sophomore quarterback Ryan Conklin hit four different receivers, connecting on 4 of 5 passes for 53 yards in the first quarter to give the Cardinals a balanced offensive attack early on.
Conklin, who prepped at Parma Western H.S. in Jackson, MI, credited his early passing success to establishing a running game early, and the ability of his speedy receivers to get behind the defense and make big plays.
“I give that (SVSU's passing success) to our running game to start,” Conklin said “because when we move the ball on the ground, that just sucks in the defense, then we can get behind them with the passing game. We have some fast guys who can get behind people and catch the ball, make good plays, and get in the end zone, and that's what we need out of them.”
The Cardinals drew first blood when Conklin hit senior WR Demaris Woods for a 39 yard pass down to the Walsh 2 yard line, setting up a 2 yard TD run by true freshman RB Nate McCrary (out of Reeths Puffer H.S. in Muskegon, MI) as junior kicker Alex Kenrick split the upright's on the extra point try for an early 7-0 SVSU lead with 4:20 left in the second quarter.
The Cardinals added to its lead late in the second quarter when Conklin hit senior WR Alfonso Vultaggio with a 25 yard touchdown pass with just 1-second left on the clock before halftime, Kenrick's kick was good as the Cardinals took a 14-0 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The 2 Nate's carried the load for SVSU in the first half as Moore carried the ball 11 times for 78 yards, and McCrary added 8 carries for 52 yards and 1 TD, while Conklin was 10 of 14 for 150 yards and 1 passing TD for a balanced SVSU offensive attack.
Vultaggio had 2 catches for 32 yards and 1-TD catch, while Woods had 2 catches for 48 yards, and red shirt freshman WR Chad Gailliard (Edsel Ford H.S. Dearborn, MI) added 2 catches for 44 yards as well.
Saginaw Valley kept the offensive machine going in the third quarter when Conklin hit Gailliard on a fly route down the right sideline, behind the Walsh safeties for an 80 yard passing TD, as Kenrick's kick was good to extend the SVSU lead to 21-0 with 8:22 left in the third quarter.
Early in the fourth quarter, Moore caught a pass to get deep into Walsh territory, then battled his way down to the Walsh 4 yard line, setting up a 2 yard TD run by McCrary, as Kenrick kicked the extra point for a 28-0 Saginaw Valley lead with 10:33 left in the fourth quarter to round out the scoring.
Moore led all of the Saginaw Valley rushers with 18 carries for 126 yards, adding 3 receptions for another 28 yards, while McCrary had 12 carries for 68 yards and 2 TD's this afternoon.
Conklin had a phenomenal day through the air, completing 17 of 26 passes for 294 yards and 2 passing TD's, while Gailliard hauled in 3 catches for 124 yards and 1 TD, followed by Vultaggio, who had 5 catches for 65 yards and 1 TD as well.
Saginaw Valley junior DB Dillon Dixon (University of Detroit Jesuit H.S.) and red shirt freshman LB Bryce Anderson (a Birmingham, MI native who transferred from the University of Northern Iowa) led the SVSU defense with 7 tackles apiece respectively today.
The Cardinals will look to go 3-0 when it heads to Wayne State University for a 6 pm game against the WSU Warriors at Tom Adams field in downtown Detroit, MI next Saturday.