Saginaw Valley State has big first half, coasts to win over Dragons

UNIVERSITY CENTER, Michigan — Prior to Saturday’s game at Saginaw Valley State, Tiffin coach Cris Reisert stressed the need for the Dragons to limit the Cardinals big-plays.

SVSU foiled the plan.

In the first quarter alone, the Cardinals Marcus Edmondson broke a 34-yard touchdown run and Justin Whitted returned a punt 87 yards to the end zone. In the second quarter, Ryan Conklin converted a pair of substantial length touchdown passes. He hit Casey Williams for a 22-yard score, then hit Chad Gaillard on a 37-yard strike just before the break.

The Cardinals led the Dragons 28-0 at halftime, and cruised to a 35-20 win in University Center.

SVSU improved to 2-0, while Tiffin’s mark evened at 1-1.

Saginaw Valley controlled the game on the ground. Nate McCrary paced the attack with 14 carries for 97 yards, and the Cardinals finished with 240 rushing yards.

Saginaw Valley didn’t pass much — it only attempted 15 passes — but quarterback Ryan Conklin was effective. He shrugged off a pair of interceptions, one by TU’s Kevin Hyde and another by Ross Moore, and finished 11 of 15 for 170 yards and two touchdown passes. He also ran in a touchdown from three yards out with less than three minutes left in regulation. He was sacked one, by Tiffin’s Charlie Cleveland. The Dragons also recovered a fumble.

Tiffin’s offense started to find its rhythm in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Nick Watson completed a 24-yard touchdown pass to Carey High graduate Gavin Woods on the first play of the period, and the QB added a score on a five-yard jaunt with 7:31 left. That made it 28-13 Cardinals.

But despite another score in the final half minute of the game — Watson found Stanley Jackson for an 8-yard TD pass — Tiffin didn’t do much to challenge the Cardinals.

Watson finished 25 of 40 for 261 yards. That included seven completions to Jackson for 125 yards. It was the second-consecutive week Jackson eclipsed the century mark in receiving yards.

Watson was intercepted once, by SVSU’s Christian Mallinger.

The Dragons rushing attack was led by JaQuan Hardy, who carried the ball 10 times for 55 yards, and by Kyle Brunson, who rushed 12 times for 47 yards.

The Dragons — who open the season with three road games — will complete the stretch next week in Canton against Walsh. The game will be the Dragons’ Great-Midwest Athletic Conference opener.

TU will then have its home opener the following week, which will also be its homecoming game against Ohio Dominican, the school for whom Reisert quarterbacked and was an assistant.