For the full PDF version of the Week 4 game notes, go to http://goashlandeagles.com/sports/fball/2015-16/files/2015FBreleaseWK4UF.pdf.
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 also can be accessed on the scoreboard page on the home page of the AU athletics website - GoAshlandEagles.com.
Head coach Lee Owens also can be heard during his weekly appearance on WRDL-FM 88.9's morning show, "The Early Bird's Word," every Thursday at 8 a.m.
Looking Ahead and Behind
The Eagles, ranked 13th in Division II, are playing host to their second key home game in as many weeks when the Oilers come to town. The winner between Ashland (3-0 overall, 3-0 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference) and Findlay (3-0, 2-0) will be in sole possession of first place in the GLIAC South Division.
Ashland has started 3-0 for the first time since 2012.
AU is coming off a 27-24 victory in the 2015 home opener against Ohio Dominican in a battle of nationally-ranked teams. For the second week in a row, Ashland's defense made the win-clinching play late - this time, it was senior rover Donzale Ashley's pass breakup with 1:01 to go in the game.
Last Look At Week Three
There are wins, and then there is the type of win Ashland University's football team earned in Week 3 in the 2015 home opener against Ohio Dominican.
The 19th-ranked Eagles defeated the 17th-ranked Panthers, 27-24, at Jack Miller Stadium/Martinelli Field.
For the second week in a row, the Eagle defense made the play at the end to spur the team on to victory. In Week 2 at Walsh, it was a stop on fourth down in overtime. Against ODU, it was a pass defensed by Ashley with 1:01 to go in the game.
Ashland's offense, which struggled for three quarters against the Cavaliers, broke out against the Panthers, scoring four touchdowns and running up 494 total yards. Junior tailback Vance Settlemire ran 25 times for 152 yards and two touchdowns coming off of missing the Walsh game due to injury.
Sophomore quarterback Travis Tarnowski was 16-for-27 for 292 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions, and ran three times for 51 yards. Sophomore tight end Adam Shaheen caught five passes for 52 yards, while sophomore wide receiver Stewart Turner gained 111 yards on just two grabs.
Defensively, senior cornerback James Ester had 12 total tackles (11 solo) and two pass breakups, while Ashley had 12 total stops (six solo) and the key breakup to end the game. Junior nose tackle Brandon Ehlinger had the best game of his collegiate career, racking up six total tackles (three solo), two sacks and four tackles for loss.
The Oilers are the Eagles' oldest current rival, as the two programs first matched up in 1924. The series was renewed in 1998 when UF joined the Midwest Intercollegiate Football Conference/Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
The last meeting was a 45-23 Eagle victory on the road. Settlemire, playing in his hometown, ran eight times for 121 yards and touchdowns of 56 and 47 yards. Ashland's scoring consisted of four rushing touchdowns, a passing TD, an interception return score and a field goal.
Since 1998, Ashland and Findlay have met 17 times. The MIFC/GLIAC series stands at 12-5 in favor of the Eagles.
"If Ohio Dominican is the new rival on our schedule, Findlay has always been THE Ohio rival," Owens said.
Leaders Of The Pack
The 2015 Ashland University football captains are split evenly between offense and defense, and they span across three classes in eligibility.
This year's captains are senior rover Ashley, senior guard Jon Cipa, junior inside linebacker Brandon Gency and Tarnowski, a sophomore quarterback.
Bruns Earns GLIAC South Division Award In Week 3
Ashland University junior punter/backup quarterback Austin Bruns is the GLIAC'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 home victory over Ohio Dominican, 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 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 stay unbeaten in the young 2015 season.
"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 Ashley's fourth-down pass breakup with 1:01 to play against the Panthers.
"We've almost given up as much on offense as we have on the starting defense," said Owens. "We've got to make sure that doesn't happen again. That's not like us on offense. But the defense has played well. They've been stingy around the goal line, and they have to play like that this week. Findlay's one of the highest-ranked offenses in the country."
Eagles Ranked In Three National Polls
Three consecutive victories to begin the 2015 season have moved Ashland University's football team to No. 13 in the latest American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Division II Coaches' Top 25 poll, released on Monday, Sept. 21.
Ashland is one of three GLIAC teams in the Top 25, along with Ferris State (No. 4) and Michigan Tech (No. 21).
So far this fall, AU has gone from receiving votes to No. 24 to No. 19 to No. 13 in Division II. This is the highest spot the Eagles have occupied in the AFCA poll since being ranked No. 9 in the 2013 preseason.
In addition to the AFCA poll, the Eagles are 16th in the latest HERO Sports poll, and 20th in this week's D2Football.com poll.
Ehlinger Has Career Day Against ODU
Nose tackles live for games like the one Ehlinger had against the Panthers in Week 3.
Ehlinger recorded six total tackles (three solo, three assists), two sacks and four tackles for loss against Ohio Dominican. In his first 14 collegiate games, he had 10 total tackles (four solo, six assists), a half-sack and two tackles for loss.
"Ohio Dominican is so physical up front," Owens said. "They have a really good offensive line, so he did it against quality competition. We hope he brings that effort and brings that game every week. It was great to see him play that way."
AU Finds Multiple Receiving Threats
Three different Eagles have had 100-yard receiving games in the first three games of the 2015 season - redshirt freshman wide receiver Matthew Wilcox (117 yards) at Lake Erie, Shaheen (151) at Walsh and Turner (111) at home against Ohio Dominican.
Going back to the end of the 2014 season, Ashland has turned in five consecutive games with a 100-yard receiver.
AFCA To Help In Fight Against MD
For the eighth year in a row, football coaches nationwide, including Ashland's, will band together for the Coach to Cure MD program, which will be held during games on Saturday, Sept. 26. The annual effort has raised more than $1.25 million to battle Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
On Saturday, Sept. 26, American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) members will wear a Coach to Cure MD logo patch on the sidelines. College football fans will be asked to donate to research projects supported by Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy (PPMD), the largest nonprofit organization in the U.S. to focus solely on Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
Football fans can donate to Duchenne muscular dystrophy research by either going online to www.CoachtoCureMD.org, or by texting the word CURE to 90999 (a $5 donation will automatically be added to your next phone bill).