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
This Week 5 contest pits the Eagles, currently in second place in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference's South Division at 3-1 overall and in the GLIAC, against the Pioneers, who sit at 0-4 overall and in the GLIAC. Ashland is one full game behind first-place Ohio Dominican in the South, and a half-game ahead of third-place Findlay.
In Week 4, AU earned its first road win of the 2014 season, 45-23, at nationally-ranked Findlay. The Eagles got contributions from all phases of the game, including four rushing touchdowns, a passing touchdown, an interception-return touchdown on defense and nine kicking points and a takeaway on special teams.
Last week, Malone lost a slim 23-21 decision at Tiffin after rallying for a 21-17 lead through three quarters thanks to 15 consecutive points.
LAST LOOK AT LAST WEEK
The Eagles improved to 1-1 on the road in 2014, and 3-1 overall and in the GLIAC, after running out to a 17-0 lead and holding off Findlay on numerous occasions after the Oilers moved to within a score of tying or taking the lead.
Ashland led Findlay 24-20 after three quarters, then got three lengthy fourth-quarter touchdowns to put the game away. Sophomore running back Vance Settlemire scored on a 56-yard touchdown run, then senior defensive end Chase Hoobler ran an interception back 36 yards for a score just 75 seconds later. Settlemire's 47-yard touchdown run with 5:14 to go iced the game for the Eagles.
Senior Anthony Taylor (21 carries, 130 yards) and Settlemire (eight carries, 121 yards, two touchdowns) both went past the 120-yard rushing mark. Redshirt freshman quarterback Travis Tarnowski threw for a touchdown and ran for a second, while junior wide receiver Drew Brenner had a career day of five catches for 65 yards.
Senior linebacker Chris Harvey had six total tackles and broke up three passes.
Ashland and Malone have a limited series history, which begun when the Pioneers joined the GLIAC in 2012. Last season in Ashland, the Eagles won 27-20. In the first-ever meeting at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ashland took a 31-7 decision.
In last season's game at Jack Miller Stadium/Martinelli Field, the Eagles rallied from an early 14-7 deficit to earn the victory. Ashland scored 20 unanswered points on a pair of touchdown passes by quarterback Tra'Von Chapman and two Anthony McCarthy field goals. Chapman was 20-for-31 for 235 yards and two touchdowns, and Taylor ran 39 times for 93 yards and a score. Wide receiver David Soucie caught six passes for 118 yards.
Ashland finished the game at plus-four in the turnover column, thanks to fumble recoveries by linebackers Zach Olszewski and Austen Harrison and interceptions by defensive backs James Ester and Eric Schwieterman.
The first-ever meeting between the Eagles and the Pioneers came on a late-October day at Fawcett Stadium in Canton. The result was an Ashland victory to move the team to 8-0.
The game was tied at 7-7 after the first quarter before the Eagles ran off 24 unanswered points in the final 45 minutes. Ashland's touchdowns covered 74, 37, 23 and 82 yards. AU's offense ran up more than 300 yards both on the ground (309) and through the air (318). Taylor ran 22 times for 212 yards and two touchdowns in the victory, quarterback Taylor Housewright was 19-for-30 for 309 yards and two scores and wide receiver Anthony Capasso caught five passes for 123 yards and a touchdown.
Linebacker Cody Bloom paced the AU defense with 10 total tackles and a fumble recovery.
WEEK 4 GRIDIRON CLUB AWARD WINNERS
Game balls went to both Hoobler and Settlemire following the Findlay victory. Honorees in the three phases of the game were senior tight end Logan Slavinski (offense), senior cornerback Donzale Ashley (defense, four total tackles) and freshman defensive back Dale Irby (special teams, two solo tackles, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery).
LEADERS OF THE PACK
Ashland's captains for the 2014 season are seniors Taylor, wide receiver Dan Piko, Bloom and safety Eric Schwieterman.
THE ANTHONY TAYLOR WATCH
Taylor had another workman-like day at Findlay, and continues to climb the Ashland all-time rushing yards list. He has 3,701 career rushing yards, just 242 behind all-time leading rusher Keith Weaver.
Here is a look at the top five running backs in Eagle football history, in terms of career yardage:
Keith Weaver 3,943
J.R. McCoy 3,906
ANTHONY TAYLOR 3,701
Antoine Gaiter 3,683
D.J. McCoy 3,131
Taylor has at least 75 rushing yards in 16 games in a row dating back to the end of the 2012 campaign. He has two 100-yard rushing games so far in 2014, 10 since the start of the 2013 season and 15 overall at Ashland.
"We've had some great tailbacks here over the years," said Owens, adding, almost superstitiously, "We will wait until it happens to talk about it."
EAGLES EARN NATIONAL RECOGNITION
Ashland received 16 votes in this week's American Football Coaches Association Division II Coaches' Poll. Two weeks ago, the Eagles received 29 votes in the AFCA poll.
The GLIAC is led in this week's poll by eighth-ranked Ohio Dominican, followed by 13th-ranked Ferris State and 23rd-ranked Michigan Tech. Wayne State (15) is the other GLIAC team to receive votes in the poll.
WINNING EAGLE TRENDS
In the three Eagles victories this season, a few key trends have emerged:
- Ashland never trailed in any of those games.
- Three different Eagles scored at least one rushing touchdown in each game.
- Ashland's third-down conversion rate on offense in those games was just less than 50 percent (7-for-15, 7-for-15 and 6-for-14).
- The Eagles have run for 290, 235 and 301 yards in those victories.
- Ashland's turnover ratio in those wins was plus-1, plus-2 and even.
- AU's offensive line has allowed just two sacks in those contests.
"Those are all truisms in the game, as we know," Owens said. "We've played pretty good, three of the four weeks. We'd like to have the one (at Ohio Dominican) back, but you get no mulligans. You just have to make sure it doesn't happen again."
FRONT-LOADING THE HOME SCHEDULE
This week's game is Ashland's third home game in the first half of the season. It also is part of four home games in the first six weeks of 2014. The last time the Eagles had four of their home games in the first six weeks of a season was 2010, when they finished 8-3. Before that, the last instance was 2008, when Ashland 9-4 and made the Division II playoffs.
QUICK START, STRONG FINISH?
The Eagles are 3-1 after four games. A strong start to the season doesn't guarantee a successful season, but it's better than the alternative.
Here are Ashland's four-game starts during Owens' tenure:
YEAR AFTER 4 GAMES FINAL RECORD
2014 3-1 ???
2013 1-3 5-5
2012 4-0 11-1
2011 2-2 6-5
2010 1-3 8-3
2009 3-1 6-5
2008 2-2 9-4
2007 3-1 8-2
2006 1-3 4-6
2005 3-1 9-2
2004 2-2 5-6
EAGLES FINDING A HOME AMONG D-II LEADERS
Through four weeks of the 2014 season, the Eagles have found their way onto the Division II team honor roll in a few statistical categories.
AU is tied for fifth in Division II in fewest turnovers (three), and tied for sixth in the country in fewest fumbles lost (one). Ashland is tied for seventh in fewest sacks allowed (two), and also has committed the eighth-fewest penalties in the country (16).
ASHLAND PLAYERS AMONG EARLY GLIAC ELITE
Settlemire is the conference leader in yards per carry at 13.4. Ashland is the only team in the conference with two running backs averaging at least 90 rushing yards per game (Taylor 105.5, Settlemire 90.8). Both Taylor (sixth) and Settlemire (10th) are in the top 10 in rushing yards per game, and both are in the top 10 in all-purpose yards per game (Taylor seventh, 118.0; Settlemire eighth, 116.2).
Taylor is tied for fourth in points with 36, Piko is tied for fifth in receptions (20), junior running back Michael Taylor is third in kickoff return average (27.3), Bloom (second, 43) and Harvey (seventh, 34) are in the top 10 in total tackles and Bloom also leads the GLIAC in assisted tackles with 27.
AU GLIAC TEAM RANKINGS
Ashland is second in the GLIAC in points per game (43.0) through four weeks, is third in rushing offense (252.5 yards per game) and is tied for third in fewest penalties (16).
THE EAGLES AT JACK MILLER STADIUM
This is the Eagles' sixth season with Jack Miller Stadium as its home. The Eagles were victorious in their first-ever game at the new facility on Broad Street, a 34-28 decision over Michigan Tech on September 12, 2009.
Here's a look at how Ashland has fared at Jack Miller Stadium over the years:
- 2014: 2-0
- 2013: 3-2
- 2012: 6-1 (includes 33-28 loss to West Texas A&M in Super Region 4 Semifinals)
- 2011: 4-1
- 2010: 5-1
- 2009: 3-2
TOTAL: 23-7 (.767 pct.)
"It's great to get home. Our fans have been unbelievable the first two (home) weeks," Owens said, adding the team's new home uniforms will be donned for the first time against Malone. "We have a lot to get better at. (But) we're an experienced junior and senior class. How we play this week will be another test.
"Being at home, there's a confidence level there."
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 – Malone Pioneers
Head Coach – Eric Hehman
This Year's Record – 0-4/0-4 GLIAC
Head coach Eric Hehman is in his fifth season leading the Pioneers. He came to Malone after serving as head coach at Division III Greenville (Ill.) College…The Pioneers are coming off a game at Tiffin in which they scored a season-high 21 points and allowed a season-low 23 points…Malone is on a six-game losing streak, with its last win coming on Nov. 2, 2013, at non-conference for Alderson-Broaddus (59-42).
- Malone's football program is in its 22nd season, and its third season in the GLIAC.
Sophomore running back Ronnie Beers is the Pioneers' leading rusher (30 carries, 192 yards, one touchdown) and leading receiver (11 catches, 136 yards, one touchdown)…New starting quarterback Kaleb Scott is a true freshman from Mount Albert, Ontario, Canada. In his first collegiate start at Tiffin, Scott was 9-for-20 for 176 yards, a touchdown and an interception…Freshman defensive back Daniel Tepe has a team-high two interceptions to go with 11 total tackles, two breakups and four passes defensed…Junior linebacker Dan Mower is second on the team in total tackles (28), first in tackles for loss (5½) and tied for second in sacks (1½)…Freshman linebacker Ryan Weber leads the team with two sacks, is second with three tackles for loss and has 24 total tackles (tied for fourth)…Redshirt freshman defensive back Cameron Mammen leads the team with 29 total tackles (18 solos).
In Week 6, the Eagles stay at home to take on long-time GLIAC rival Saginaw Valley State. It will be Homecoming at AU, and the kickoff on Saturday, Oct. 11, will be at 1 p.m.