SIGHTS AND SOUNDS
This week's game will be broadcast live on WNCO-AM (1340), with Matt Brubaker handling the play-by-play and Don Graham providing the commentary. The game can be heard at WNCOAM.com, and can also be accessed on the football page of the AU athletics Web site - goashlandeagles.com (go to the live broadcasts tab).
LOOKING AHEAD AND BEHIND
The Eagles play their second consecutive road game Saturday afternoon when they travel to venerable Donnell Stadium to take on their original Division II Ohio rival, Findlay. The Oilers are a half-game behind first-place Ohio Dominican in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference's South Division at 2-0 (3-0 overall), while Ashland is a full game behind the Panthers are 2-1 (2-1 overall).
In Week 3, the Eagles lost to nationally-ranked Ohio Dominican in Columbus, 38-20. Senior running back Anthony Taylor scored two touchdowns, including an AU record-breaking 36th touchdown late in the second quarter on a one-yard touchdown run. Last week, the Oilers made the short trip to Tiffin and came back with a 59-22 victory. Senior quarterback Verlon Reed, an Ohio State transfer, was 12-for-18 for 179 yards, two touchdowns and one interception passing, and added 63 yards and a touchdown on eight carries.
LAST LOOK AT LAST WEEK
The Eagles suffered their first loss of the 2014 season in Week 3 at nationally-ranked Ohio Dominican, 38-20.
Ashland got on the board quickly thanks to a 33-yard touchdown pass from redshirt freshman quarterback Travis Tarnowski to senior wide receiver Eric Thompkins just 1:39 into the game. Ohio Dominican scored three consecutive touchdowns in a 15-minute span to take a 21-7 lead, then Taylor scored his record-breaking touchdown just before halftime to make it a 21-14 contest. But a five-play, 46-yard drive in just 27 seconds allowed the Panthers to hit a 39-yard field goal for a 24-14 halftime advantage.
Taylor scored his second touchdown of the game on a five-yard shovel pass from Tarnowski, but the extra point was blocked, leaving the Eagles down 24-20. ODU then scored a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns to seal the victory.
Taylor ran 17 times for 75 yards and a score, while Tarnowski was 13-for-22 for 116 yards and two touchdowns. Senior defensive end Chase Hoobler had seven total tackles and two tackles for loss, while senior linebacker Chris Harvey made 15 total stops.
The Eagles and Oilers have a lengthy history dating back to 1924. Ashland has the all-time series advantage, 25-15-4. Since Findlay began playing in the GLIAC in 1998, the Eagles and Oilers have played 16 times, with Ashland coming out on top 11 times.
In the next-to-last game of the 2013 season, Ashland lost at Findlay, 35-28. The Eagles rallied from deficits of 7-0, 21-6 and 28-13 to tie the game at 28-28 with 2:16 left in regulation, but a 24-yard touchdown pass by the Oilers with three seconds left in the game was the difference. Taylor ran 28 times for 152 yards and two touchdowns, while wide receiver Dan Piko caught five passes for 104 yards and two touchdowns. Defensive lineman Jamie Meder recorded 11 total tackles and two tackles for loss, and linebacker Zach Olszewski had 10 total stops and 1½ for loss.
The last time Ashland and Findlay played at Jack Miller Stadium/Martinelli Field was in 2012, with the Eagles coming out on top, 42-21. The running back tandem of Taylor (24 carries, 165 yards) and Jordan McCune (four rushing touchdowns) did the most damage, while quarterback Taylor Housewright was 12-for-16 for 170 yards and two touchdowns. Defensive lineman Tyler Houska had two of Ashland's three sacks in the victory.
In the first-ever meeting between the two teams as GLIAC rivals in 1998, Ashland went to Findlay and came back with a 43-28 victory.
LEADERS OF THE PACK
SEEING A TOP-25 TEAM ON THE ROAD AGAIN
Ashland went to Columbus to take on a nationally-ranked team in Ohio Dominican.
This week, the Eagles will head to Findlay to face another Division II Top 25 squad. Findlay is No. 25 in this week's American Football Coaches Association Division II Coaches' Top 25 poll – the first time the Oilers have been in the Top 25 since October 12, 2009 (No. 18).
The Oilers also are 24th in this week's D2Football.com Top 25 poll.
THE ANTHONY TAYLOR WATCH
Taylor set the new AU career touchdown record in Week 3, but there still is another Eagle career mark to run down.
He has 3,571 career rushing yards, just 372 behind all-time leading rusher Keith Weaver. This week, Taylor has a chance to pass Antoine Gaiter (3,683) and go into third place on the all-time list.
Here is how Taylor's 2014 season breaks down by half:
GAME FIRST HALF SECOND HALF ENTIRE GAME
vs. Lake Erie 10 att., 10 yards, 1 TD 5 att., 75 yards, 2 TD 15 att., 85 yards, 3 TD
vs. Walsh 8 att., 27 yards, 0 TD 14 att., 105 yards, 1 TD 22 att., 132 yards, 1 TD
at Ohio Dominican 9 att., 35 yards, 1 TD 8 att., 40 yards, 0 TD 17 att., 75 yards, 1 TD
2014 27 att., 72 yards, 2 TD 27 att., 220 yards, 3 TD 54 att., 292 yards, 5 TD
Taylor now has at least one touchdown in 10 straight games dating back to last season. He also has at least 75 rushing yards in 15 games in a row dating back to the end of the 2012 campaign.
LOOKING TO WIN AGAIN AT "THE DON"
Prior to last season's loss at Donnell Stadium, the Eagles had enjoyed traveling to Findlay. In 2010, Ashland was a 56-7 winner. In 2009, it was a 41-28 decision for AU. Ashland also has won at the Oilers, since UF joined the GLIAC in 1998, in 2007 (34-10), 2005 (21-14), 2001 (36-19) and 1998 (43-28).
TARNOWSKI MANAGING THE GAME
Tarnowski is one of two GLIAC starting quarterbacks who hasn't thrown an interception through three weeks of play. Tarnowski has gone 79 straight passes to start the season without a pick, just shy of Michigan Tech quarterback Tyler Scarlett's 89 consecutive interception-free passes.
SETTING THE EARLY RUSHING TREND
Ashland is the only GLIAC team after three weeks to have two players – Taylor (97.3) and sophomore running back Vance Settlemire (80.7) – averaging at least 80 rushing yards each per game. Settlemire also leads the conference in yards per carry (12.7) among players with at least 19 carries.
HIGH-POWERED OFFENSES WILL BE ON DISPLAY
Saturday afternoon's game will feature two of the top offenses in the GLIAC. The Oilers rank second in the conference with 47.3 points per game, while the Eagles are third in the league at 42.3.
Both Findlay (third, 466.3) and Ashland (fifth, 459.3) are in the top five in the league in total offense per game, and the Eagles (third, 236.3) and Oilers (fifth, 228.7) are in the top five in the conference in rushing yards per game.
Owens spoke on AU's second-half offensive problems against ODU, which included four possessions in the fourth quarter which totaled 13 plays, 27 yards and no points.
"What really hurt us (last week) was four possessions in the fourth quarter, and we didn't get it done," Owens said, who said last week's mistakes were self-inflicted. "Our drive in the third quarter was a mix of run and pass. In the fourth quarter, and time's running out, 13-play drives don't get it done for you."
HOOBLER MAKING HIS MARK
Hoobler, a transfer from Indiana, has made plenty of plays so far in 2014. In three games, he has a team-high 4½ tackles for loss to go with 21 total tackles (fourth on the team).
"He's really playing well," said Owens. "He's been a difference out there."
EAGLES IN THE NFL
One former Ashland defensive lineman was looking to stick with a National Football League team for the 2014 season, while another was trying to make his first NFL regular-season roster right out of college.
Meder (Baltimore) was a rookie free agent with the Ravens, but was released on the team's final cut on Labor Day Weekend. In four preseason games with Baltimore, Meder saw action in 54 plays (47 on defense, seven on special teams) and recorded four total tackles (two solos, two assists) and a pass breakup.
Following the mandated final preseason roster cutdown to the 53-man regular-season roster, the Ravens brought Meder back to their 10-player practice squad.
Jeris Pendleton (Indianapolis) suffered a knee injury in the first game of preseason and was placed on the reserve/injured list by the Colts. He played one regular-season game for Indianapolis in 2013 after seeing action in four regular-season games for the Jacksonville Jaguars as a rookie in 2012 after being selected in the seventh round of the NFL Draft.
The Scouting Report – Findlay Oilers
Head Coach – Rob Keys
This Year's Record – 3-0/2-0 GLIAC
The Oilers were picked to finish second in the GLIAC South Division, and received one of seven first-place votes, in the 2014 GLIAC Preseason Coaches' Poll…Findlay has won its first three games at home against Hillsdale (46-38), at home against non-conference opponent McKendree (37-28) and at Tiffin (59-22)…since joining the GLIAC for the 1998 season, the Oilers have an overall record of 75-97 (.432), but are coming off three consecutive winning seasons.
* Saturday's game is Findlay's Homecoming contest. In 2013, the Oilers' Homecoming game was a 40-19 victory over Michigan Tech.
Senior quarterback Verlon Reed, an Ohio State transfer, is the Oilers' leading passer (50-for-81, 684 yards, seven touchdowns and two interceptions) and leading rusher (283 yards, six touchdowns) through three games…senior wide receiver Lloyd Henry is tied for the GLIAC lead with 20 catches, and is second in receiving yards (292)…senior safety Harold Jones-Quartey is the Oilers' tackle leader at 27 total, to go with 2½ tackles for loss and 1½ sacks…sophomore linebacker Myles Alexander has a team-high 2½ sacks and 5½ tackles for loss while recording 13 total tackles and a fumble recovery…sophomore kicker Tyler Bugeja has made all 17 extra points and all three field goals so far in 2014…senior punter Alex Irastorza averages 43.4 yards per punt, and three of his seven punts have been downed inside the 20-yard line.
"They're undefeated. What else can we say? They are our rival. We lost to them a year ago. There's no other incentive than what's listed there," Owens said. "They were a good football team last year (too). It all revolves around the quarterback. Very, very athletic. We know what kind of player he is, what kind of person he is.
"They want to be a run-pass balanced football team. They're never going to abandon the running game."
In Week 5, Ashland returns home for another GLIAC matchup against in-state rival Malone. Kickoff at Jack Miller Stadium/Martinelli Field will be at 7 p.m.