There were several patterns which emerged for Ashland University's football team in its three previous wins in the 2014 season prior to Saturday night's home game with Malone.
Those patterns continued to play out in the Eagles 42-13 victory over the Pioneers.
- In four wins, Ashland has been ahead in 240 of a possible 240 minutes. In fact, the Eagles built leads of 28-0, 10-0, 17-0 and 21-0 before their opponents scored their first points in those games.
- The first three AU wins saw three different players score at least one rushing touchdowns. Saturday night, four players did the honors – senior tailbacks Anthony Taylor and Jordan McCune with two each, and sophomore tailback Vance Settlemire and redshirt freshman quarterback Travis Tarnowski with one each.
- The Eagles' third-down conversation rate in the first three victories was an aggregate 45.5 percent (20-for-44). Saturday night, it was 72.7 percent (8-for-11).
- Ashland has averaged an impressive 302 rushing yards per game in four wins, including a season-high 382 against Malone.
- The Eagles' turnover ratio in the four victories is plus-6, including a season-best plus-3 Saturday night.
- Finally, Ashland's offensive line has yielded a total of three sacks in four wins this season.
TIP OF THE CAP TO THE DEFENSE – Saturday night vs. the Pioneers, Ashland's defense allowed season-lows in points (13) and total yards (258), and the second-fewest rushing yards this season (120). The Eagles also forced three turnovers, a season best.
AU's defense now ranks in a tie for second in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference in interceptions (six), fifth in points allowed per game (22.4) and seventh in rushing yards allowed per game (168.4).
Those six interceptions have resulted in 159 yards in returns, including a touchdown. And all six have been recorded by six different players, including each member of the starting secondary – cornerbacks Donzale Ashley (senior) and James Ester (junior) and safeties Eric Schwieterman (senior) and Kyle Tomko (junior).
"Defensively, we've been real consistent. We've gotten the ball away when we've needed to," said Ashland head coach Lee Owens. "We just looked fast tonight. I thought we got to the ball in a hurry. We've got some guys that are playing with a high level of confidence."
THE ANTHONY TAYLOR WATCH – With his 160 rushing yards Saturday night, Taylor (3,861) now is just 82 yards behind AU all-time leading rusher Keith Weaver (3,943). With Weaver potentially in attendance next week for Homecoming, the Week 6 home game against Saginaw Valley State could be memorable.
"My family is coming up (from Virginia) too, so that will be pretty nice for them to see that," Taylor said. "Hopefully, I can break it for them, but more importantly, get the win against Saginaw."
Already the program's all-time touchdown leader with 39, Taylor now has at least 75 rushing yards in 17 consecutive games going back to the end of the 2012 season. He also has three 100-yard rushing games in 2014, 11 since the start of the 2013 campaign and 16 overall as an Eagle.
PUNT-FREE EAGLES – Neither of Ashland's sophomore punters – backup quarterback Austin Bruns or backup kicker Aidan Simenc – had to punt Saturday night. It was the first game in which the Eagles didn't punt since Sept. 29, 2012 at home against Lake Erie.
GLIAC INDIVIDUAL RANKINGS – Settlemire leads the GLIAC in rushing yards per attempt (11.8)…Tarnowski has the second-best interception rate of any starting GLIAC quarterback (one in 129 passing attempts)…Taylor is tied for second in the conference in points scored (48)…senior wide receiver Dan Piko ranks third in the league in receptions (27).
EAGLE NUGGETS – The Eagles are at least 4-1 after five games for the third time in Owens' 11 seasons at the helm (5-0 in 2012, 4-1 in 2007). In the other two instances, AU made the Division II playoffs…Ashland is first in the GLIAC in rushing touchdowns (20), and second in the conference in points per game (42.8), total offense per game (480.6) and rushing yards per game (278.4)…Ashland's time of possession of 34:39 was a season-best, and was the offense's best mark since the 2013 season-finale at home against Tiffin (35:23).