Ashland University junior punter/backup quarterback Austin Bruns is the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference's Special Teams Player of the Week for Week 3 of the 2015 season.
Bruns continues to be one of the Eagles' top special teams contributors, as his ability to pass, run and punt keeps opponents from being able to use their regular punt-return packages. In AU's 27-24 home victory over Ohio Dominican on Saturday (Sept. 19), Bruns averaged 46.4 yards on five punts, landed two of those boots inside the 20-yard line and had punts of 61 and 53 yards.
"He's done a really nice job, particularly the last two weeks. This week, because of the magnitude of the game," said Ashland head coach Lee Owens. "It's just huge when you force a team to go that far to score. It's good that you can give them the long field. And he gives us another dimension that other teams are aware of. At any time, he can run any play in our offense."
Bruns leads the GLIAC in punting average through three weeks at 47.8, and is tied for second in the conference in punts inside the 20 with five. He is the Eagles' first GLIAC Player of the Week since tailback Anthony Taylor on Oct. 6, 2013, following Taylor's school-record-setting 311 rushing yards at Lake Erie.
"We've created a culture where I don't think anyone's interested in individual recognition, but it's good for the program," Owens said.
AU Shows Toughness, Resiliency In Fourth Quarter
After Ohio Dominican's 98-yard interception return to make it a 27-24 game with 4:45 left in the third quarter, Ashland held on to improve to 3-0 overall and 3-0 in the GLIAC.
"It would have been really easy at that point for our guys to go, 'Oh, here we go,'" said Owens, "and let up and allow them to keep the momentum. I thought we dug down deeper at that point than any other time of the game. We made some plays on offense to move the clock, we made some plays on defense to get them stopped and get the ball back.
"I thought it was our best effort. After the pick-six, I thought we had our best effort and played our best football. It just kind of defines who we are."
Eagle Defense – Bend, But Don't Break
Ashland's defense, which led the GLIAC in opponent scoring in 2014, is turning in a solid start to the 2015 campaign.
Ranking fourth in the league in total defense at 351.7 yards allowed per game, the Eagles' first-team defense allowed seven points at Lake Erie, 17 points at Walsh and 17 points at home against ODU.
The defense also has sealed the last two AU victories with a fourth-down overtime stop against the Cavaliers and senior rover Donzale Ashley's fourth-down pass breakup with 1:01 to play against the Panthers.
Ashland has won eight straight games at Jack Miller Stadium/Martinelli Field…Junior tailback Vance Settlemire's 152 rushing yards against ODU were a career high…Junior nose tackle Brandon Ehlinger had career highs in sacks (two) and tackles for loss (four) against the Panthers…Sophomore wide receiver Stewart Turner's 111 receiving yards gives AU three different players with a 100-yard receiving game this season...Between Taylor's and Bruns' GLIAC Player of the Week awards nearly two full years apart, Ashland's record was 14-4.