Football Game Notes - Ashland at Michigan Tech

Football Game Notes - Ashland at Michigan Tech

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). It can also be heard live at 88.9 WRDL.

LOOKING AHEAD AND BEHIND

The Week 10 matchup between Ashland and Michigan Tech in Houghton, Mich., is one dripping with conference and postseason implications – and also is the only Top 25 matchup in the country this weekend.

Conference-wise, Ashland is in first place in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference South Division at 8-1 overall and in the league, while Michigan Tech is a game out of first in the GLIAC North at 7-1 overall and in the conference. Both the Eagles and the Huskies are chasing Ferris State (9-0, 8-0) for first place in the entire GLIAC.

Both AU and Michigan Tech are fighting for a spot in the NCAA playoffs. In this week's regional rankings, the Huskies are sixth and the Eagles are seventh. Six teams from each region make the Division II postseason.

In Week 9, the Eagles earned a convincing 37-14 victory at Grand Valley State, while the Huskies won at Tiffin, 35-17.

LAST LOOK AT LAST WEEK

All phases of Ashland's game clicked in a 37-14 win at the Lakers. It was Ashland's sixth consecutive victory, and third in a row away from Jack Miller Stadium/Martinelli Field. The 37 points were the second-most Ashland ever has scored against GVSU, and the 14 points allowed are tied for the second-fewest AU ever has yielded to the Lakers.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Travis Tarnowski was 27-for-49 for 369 yards and two touchdowns, while senior wide receiver Dan Piko tied a career-high with nine catches and added 112 receiving yards and a touchdown. Senior tailback Anthony Taylor ran 19 times for 123 yards and two touchdowns. It was his 20th 100-yard rushing game as an Eagle.

Defensively, senior linebackers Cody Bloom (12 total tackles, a half-tackle for loss and a half-sack) and Chris Harvey (eight total tackles, 2½ tackles for loss and 1½ sacks) led the charge for a unit which kept its fifth consecutive opponent to two touchdowns or less.

The victory was Ashland's first against Grand Valley State since 1993.

ASHLAND-MICHIGAN TECH

The Eagles-Huskies rivalry has been one of ebbs and flows since its beginning in 1994, when Michigan Tech joined the Midwest Intercollegiate Football Conference.

Ashland won the first seven meetings, then Tech took the next five and the Eagles have won the last two. AU has a 9-5 advantage all-time against the Huskies.

The two programs haven't played each other since 2009 due to conference schedule rotation. In Tech's only appearance at Jack Miller Stadium/Martinelli Field, 19th-ranked Ashland ran out to a 20-0 halftime lead and came away with a 34-28 victory. Quarterback Billy Cundiff was 23-for-33 for 307 yards and three touchdowns, and wide receiver Nick Bellanco caught five passes for 121 yards and a score. Linebacker Quinton Scott recorded 12 total tackles, two tackles for loss, a pass breakup and a sack.

In the 2008 meeting in Houghton, Mich., Ashland was ahead 21-0 after the first quarter, then behind 34-28 in the third quarter before running off 20 unanswered points en route to a 48-41 victory. Cundiff was 25-for-37 for 423 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions, running back Dawon Harvey had 149 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries – and 314 all-purpose yards – and the wide receiver trio of Joe Horn (seven catches, 157 yards, one touchdown), Bellanco (six catches, 122 yards, two touchdowns) and Johnny Long (five catches, 87 yards, two scores) all had big days. Linebacker Tom Brenner had two interceptions, including a 26-yarder for a TD.

REGIONAL RANKINGS

In the second official regional rankings released Monday (Nov. 3), Ashland University's football team is ranked seventh in Super Region Four. The top six teams advance to the NCAA playoffs.

Ashland was ranked seventh in last week's initial regional rankings, as well.

The Eagles have earned a spot in the postseason on five previous occasions (1986, 1997, 2007, 2008 and 2012).

SUPER REGION FOUR

RANK

SCHOOL

DIVISION II RECORD

OVERALL RECORD

1

Ferris State

9-0

9-0

2

Ohio Dominican

7-1

7-1

3

Colorado State-Pueblo

7-1

8-1

4

Colorado Mines

8-1

8-1

5

Indianapolis

8-0

8-1

6

Michigan Tech

7-1

7-1

7

ASHLAND

8-1

8-1

8

Texas A&M-Commerce

6-1

7-2

9

Chadron State

6-2

6-3

10

Angelo State

6-2

6-2

 

LEADERS OF THE PACK

Ashland's captains for the 2014 season are seniors Anthony Taylor (tailback), Dan Piko (wide receiver), Cody Bloom (inside linebacker) and Eric Schwieterman (safety).

EAGLES NATIONALLY-RANKED IN COACHES', MEDIA POLLS

Ashland is ranked 22nd in this week's American Football Coaches Association Division II Coaches' Poll, released Monday (Nov. 3). The Eagles were 23rd in last week's AFCA poll, and were ranked 24th in the poll each of the prior two weeks.

Also this week, AU is ranked 22nd in the D2Football.com Top 25 Poll, released Tuesday (Nov. 4) – the team's highest ranking in that poll this season, as well.

EAGLES FINDING A HOME AMONG D-II LEADERS

Team-wise, Ashland is tied for first in Division II in fewest turnovers lost (seven), second in fewest fumbles lost (two), sixth in fewest tackles for loss allowed (36), ninth in fewest penalties (40), 10th in red-zone offense (88.1 percent), 11th in third-down conversion percentage (48.8), 12th in fewest sacks allowed (eight), 13th in fewest penalty yards (390), 15th in rushing offense per game (253.0) and fourth-down conversion percentage defense (27.3), 18th in fewest interceptions thrown (five) and 20th in scoring defense (17.1).

Taylor is 14th in the country in rushing yards (1,107) and 18th in rushing touchdowns (12).

ASHLAND EARNS SPOT ON THE NATIONAL STAGE

On the Sunday night (Nov. 2) edition of ESPN's SportsCenter, AU football fans came across a highlight they think was the best of the weekend.

During ESPN's nightly Top 10 Plays segment, Piko's one-handed catch from Tarnowski during the win at Grand Valley State was ranked No. 3.

Piko finished the night with a career-high-tying nine catches for the second time in the last four contests. Tarnowski ended the victory with career-highs in completions (27) and attempts (49), and five yards short of his career high in passing yards (369).

THE A.T. SCORECARD

Taylor has been the workhorse for Ashland's offense for a long time. And the stats he continues to pile up prove why:

  • He is the active career rushing leader (4,386 yards), fourth in career active all-purpose yards (5,001) and seventh in active career touchdowns scored (44) for all of Division II.
  • He has posted three consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons, and is only the second Eagle to do so since 1970 (Keith Weaver, 1992-94).
  • He now has six consecutive 100-yard rushing games and seven overall this season. He has rushed for at least 100 yards 15 times since the start of the 2013 season, and 20 times overall at AU. He has at least 75 rushing yards in 21 consecutive games going back to the end of the 2012 season.

AU now is 15-5 when Taylor rushes for at least 100 yards in a game.

WEEK 9 GRIDIRON CLUB AWARD WINNERS

The game ball for the Grand Valley victory went to Owens after the program's first win against the Lakers in 21 years.

Phase-of-the-game award winners were Piko on offense, junior cornerback James Ester on defense and sophomore kicker Aidan Simenc on special teams.

ASHLAND PLAYERS AMONG GLIAC ELITE

Taylor is fourth in the league in rushing yards (1,107), all-purpose yards (1,174) and rushing touchdowns (12), and tied for second in total touchdowns (13). Sophomore tailback Vance Settlemire is third in yards per rushing attempt (8.1), Piko is second in receptions (56), senior inside linebacker Cody Bloom is tied for third in total tackles (84) and Simenc is tied for first in field-goal percentage (100.0, 7-for-7).

AU GLIAC TEAM RANKINGS

On defense, the Eagles are the best in the league in points allowed per game (17.1) and touchdowns scored on defense (three), and third in total defense per game (333.4) and rushing yards allowed per game (127.2).

"The defense is playing really well," Owens said, "and we feed off each other. When you can help your defense with your offense…we had 22 third-down opportunities in the Grand Valley game. You help you defense out, and then they go out and make a big stop on fourth down."

Offensively, Ashland ranks second in the conference in points per game (38.9) and third-down conversions (48.9 percent), and third in total offense per game (472.6) and rushing yards per game (253.0).

EAGLES' "D" GETTING STRONGER EACH WEEK

Ashland's defense has picked the right time to emerge as one of the best in the GLIAC.

In the last five games, the Eagles' "D" has given up a total of 55 points in wins at home against Malone and Saginaw Valley State, at Hillsdale, in the home regular-season finale against Northern Michigan and at Grand Valley State.

Points allowed, however, are just part of the story:

 

OPPONENT

4TH DOWNS

TOT. DEF.

RUSH AVG.

TAKE.

SACKS

MALONE

3-for-4

258 yards

3.5

3

0

SVSU

0-for-1

182 yards

2.1

0

5

at Hillsdale

0-for-1

254 yards

3.0

4

3

N. MICHIGAN

0-for-3

261 yards

1.9

0

3

at GVSU

0-for-4

351 yards

3.3

1

2

 

OPPOSING RUNNING BACKS FIND TOUGH SLEDDING

Opposition running backs haven't had much success against Ashland's defense of late. The Eagles haven't had an opposing back go past the 100-yard rushing mark since Week 1, and each opponent's leading rusher since Week 2 has averaged just 59.6 yards per game.

Here's a look at each team's leading rushers against Ashland of late:

 

DATE

OPPONENT

PLAYER

RUSHING YARDS

11/1

at Grand Valley State

Terrell Dorsey

81

10/25

NORTHERN MICHIGAN

Terrance Dye

53

10/18

at Hillsdale

Bennett Lewis

46

10/11

SAGINAW VALLEY

David Nay

49

10/4

MALONE

Kyle Nutter

40

9/27

at Findlay

Daiquone Ford

69

9/20

at Ohio Dominican

Brandon Schoen

90

9/13

WALSH

Justin Keith

49

 

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.

Jamie 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.

EAGLE NUGGETS

  • Ashland's current six-game winning streak is the sixth streak of at least six straight wins under Owens.
  • Tarnowski is 44-for-71 (62.0 percent) for 632 yards and seven touchdowns (no interceptions) in the last two games. His passer rating in the last two games is a gaudy 169.3.
  • Piko has caught 36 passes over the last five games.
 

The Scouting Report – Michigan Tech Huskies

Head Coach – Tom Kearly

This Year's Record – 7-1/7-1 GLIAC

 

NOTEWORTHY

Michigan Tech is ranked 20th in this week's AFCA Division II Coaches' Poll…Huskies head coach Tom Kearly is in his ninth season. His career record is 57-34 (.626), and he is the second-winningest Huskies head coach behind Bernie Anderson (93)…this is Tech's fifth consecutive winning season, and its 10th winning season in the last 11 campaigns…the program's most successful alumnus in the National Football League is offensive lineman Joe Berger, who is with the Minnesota Vikings and is in his ninth season.

 

Like Ashland, Michigan Tech's football program began in 1920. The Eagles went 2-3 in its first season, and the Huskies were 2-0.

 

WATCH LIST

Senior quarterback Tyler Scarlett has thrown for 1,558 yards and 12 touchdowns while completing 60.4 percent of his passes and throwing just four interceptions…senior running back Charlie Leffingwell has rushed for a team-high 983 yards and seven touchdowns, and has caught a team-high six touchdowns on just 13 receptions. "He's a really good player," said Owens. "You can see him out-run a defense. He'll run you over. He's really versatile."…sophomore wide receiver Brandon Cowie is the Huskies' leading receiver with 46 catches and 552 yards…senior defensive lineman Nelson Wienke leads Michigan Tech in sacks (3½) and is tied for the team lead in tackles for loss (7½)…senior defensive back DeShawn Nelson is the team leader in interceptions (five) and interception return yards (108).

SCOUTING REPORT

"They're really good," Owens said. "(They have a) senior quarterback and efficient offense. They play hard, they play smart. They know how to win, and expect to win. They've been in a lot of tough games."

UP NEXT

The waiting game. Ashland has a bye in Week 11, and will wait to see how everything falls in terms of a potential postseason spot.

 
 

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