DETROIT - Grand Valley State coach Matt Mitchell praised Wayne State for a tough, competitive game Saturday at Tom Adams Field in Detroit.
The officiating crew, however, did not receive his endorsement.
The Lakers, ranked No. 2 in Division II, were puzzled after several questionable calls kept the game close. Grand Valley State won, 24-21.
“That was one of the worst officiated games I’ve ever seen,” said Mitchell, whose team finished the regular season 11-0 overall, 10-0 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. “I’ll probably get fined for it, but I don’t care.”
The Lakers, who completed their first undefeated regular season since 2008, head to the playoffs. They are the top seed in their region and will receive a first-round bye. The playoff pairings will be announced at 5 p.m. today on the NCAA’s website.
Grand Valley State won Division II national championships in 2002-03, ’05-06.
“We never think about (national titles),” said running back Marty Carter, who finished with 165 yards rushing and one touchdown. “Once we get there, then we’ll think about it.”
Saturday’s game, decided by Joel Schipper’s 29-yard field goal with 8:57 remaining, left Grand Valley State unhappy with the officials.
Early in the fourth quarter, Wayne State quarterback Donovan Zezula completed a 51-yard pass to Deiontae Nicholas to give the Warriors a crucial first down at Grand Valley State’s 4-yard line. One official threw a penalty flag for an apparent illegal formation, but after a long discussion, the call was reversed.
Four plays later, the Warriors scored on Zezula’s 1-yard run, tying the game at 21 with 11:10 left.
On the Lakers’ ensuing possession, quarterback Bart Williams threw what appeared to be a 13-yard touchdown pass to Urston Smith, but officials ruled that Smith was out of bounds. Two plays later, Williams completed a 12-yard pass to Nick Dodson in the end zone, but again, officials ruled Dodson’s foot was out of bounds.
Grand Valley State was forced to settle for Schipper’s field goal.
“Not every official is going to make a great call, nobody is perfect,” Carter said. “You have to fight through the officials, It’s not always going to be the greatest call, or even a good call, but you have to move on."
On Wayne State’s final possession, Zezula appeared to be sacked in his own end zone for a safety, but officials ruled him down at the 1-yard line. He was intercepted by Donte Carey on the next play.
Carter finished the regular season with 1,590 rushing yards, first among GLIAC running backs.
Wayne State junior Romello Brown, who had 123 rushing yards against Grand Valley, completed the season with 1,564 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Wayne State ended with three straight losses to finish 7-4.
Ferris State 51, Saginaw Valley State 17: Trevor Bermingham had eight carries for 186 yards and four touchdowns for host Ferris State (9-2). Bermingham was 10-for-12 passing for 195 yards and one touchdown. Saginaw Valley State finished 5-5.
Findlay 59, Michigan Tech 21: Kevin Miller scored two touchdowns, including one of 58 yards, for host Michigan Tech (4-6, 4-6).
Northwood 41, Walsh 13: Dimitri Abro had a 66-yard fumble recovery for a touchdown and 10 tackles for visiting Northwood (3-8).
Tiffin 56, Northern Michigan 7: Julian Crum scored one touchdown for visiting Northern Michigan (3-8, 3-7).
Olivet 44, Trine 27: Damorria Lilly had 37 carries for 203 yards and three touchdowns for host Olivet (9-1, 6-0). Olivet captured its first outright Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association title since 1974.
Alma 31, Adrian 27: Jacob Chittenden had an 85-yard interception return for a touchdown for host Alma (7-3, 4-2). Adrian’s Darius Philon caught two touchdown passes, including one of 71 yards. Adrian finished (4-6, 2-4).