No. 3 Eagles, No. 12 Lakers Match Up In Super Region 4 Quarter

No. 3 Eagles, No. 12 Lakers Match Up In Super Region 4 Quarter

For the full PDF version of the Super Region 4 quarterfinal game notes, go to http://goashlandeagles.com/sports/fball/2015-16/files/2015FBreleaseNCAAGVSU.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. WRDL-FM also will broadcast Saturday's game live.

A live stream of the game can be found on the scoreboard page on the home page of the AU athletics website, as well.

 

Looking Ahead And Behind

The No. 3-ranked Eagles will play their third-ever home NCAA Division II playoff game against the No. 12-ranked Lakers. The contest is a rematch from the Oct. 31 game at Jack Miller Stadium/Martinelli Field, won by Ashland, 45-31.

AU finished the regular season at 10-0, its second undefeated regular campaign in four years. The Eagles also won a share of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship, their second GLIAC title.

 

Previewing Eagles vs. Lakers

The public has been reminded of late that the 1980s rock band Europe enjoys "The Final Countdown."

The final countdown to Saturday's noon kickoff between No. 3 Ashland University (10-0) and No. 12 Grand Valley State (9-2) at Jack Miller Stadium/Martinelli Field in an NCAA Division II Super Region 4 quarterfinal won't be for a few days, but the anticipation already has begun.

Saturday's game will mark the second time in three weeks the Eagles and Lakers will face off. On Oct. 31 on Broad Street, Ashland defeated Grand Valley State, 45-31, in a game which featured 76 points and 985 yards of offense.

Here is a breakdown of matchups in Saturday's rematch:

ASHLAND'S OFFENSE VS. GRAND VALLEY STATE'S DEFENSE – The Eagles rank second in the GLIAC in total offense (495.7 ypg.) and scoring offense (40.7 ppg.), and are third in passing yards per game (292.0) and rushing yards per game (203.7).

The Lakers are seventh in the GLIAC in scoring defense (27.2 ppg.) and 11th in total defense (407.5 ypg.). GVSU is third in the league in rushing yards allowed per game (127.4) and first in sacks (38), but 15th in passing yards allowed per game (280.2).

AU sophomore quarterback Travis Tarnowski finished the regular season fifth in the GLIAC in passing yards (2,845) and passing touchdowns (27) and sixth in completion percentage (63.3). Junior tailback Vance Settlemire led the conference in regular-season yards per carry (6.3), and was fifth in rushing TDs (12) and rushing yards (1,058).

Sophomore tight end Adam Shaheen was tied for fifth in the league in receptions (62) and fourth in touchdown receptions (10). His reception total leads all NCAA tight ends at all levels.

GVSU senior defensive lineman Matt Judon paced the GLIAC in regular-season sacks with 18, almost twice as many as the second-place showing. Judon also is second in the conference with 19 tackles for loss and is tied for first with three forced fumbles.

Laker sophomore defensive back Tre Walton is tied for second in the GLIAC with four interceptions.

GRAND VALLEY STATE'S OFFENSE VS. ASHLAND'S DEFENSE – The Eagle defense is third in the conference in scoring defense (22.8 ppg.) and fourth in total defense (358.8 ypg.). AU is fourth in rushing yards allowed per game (127.5), eighth in passing yards allowed per game (231.3) and first in interceptions (15).

The Laker offense is third in the conference at 39.1 points per game and fourth at 457.0 total yards of offense per contest. GVSU is fourth in the league in passing yards per game (286.9) and ninth in rushing yards per game (170.1).

Ashland's defensive success has been a group effort. The Eagles' 60 tackles for loss have come from 20 players (junior inside linebacker Zach Olszewski leads with nine), their 20 sacks are from 14 players (senior defensive tackle Tim Lehr leads with 4½) and their 15 picks have come from nine players (team-leading three each from senior rover Donzale Ashley and sophomore cornerback Dale Irby).

Laker sophomore quarterback Bart Williams is third in the GLIAC with 3,124 passing yards and first with 35 touchdown passes. Junior wide receiver Matt Williams' 847 receiving yards are fifth in the conference, and his 13 touchdown grabs are second. Senior tight end/wide receiver Jamie Potts is third in the league with 12 touchdown catches.

SPECIAL TEAMS – Ashland has the conference's top punter in junior Austin Bruns (45.5-yard average), who also is a passing/running threat as a quarterback and serves as the Eagles' backup tight end. Sophomore kicker Aidan Simenc has hit 11-of-13 field goals and 48-of-51 extra points, and has eight touchbacks on kickoffs.

Irby is second in the GLIAC in kickoff-return average (26.7), and also averages 7.4 yards per punt return. The Eagles lead the conference in team kickoff-return average at 23.8 and gross punting average.

Grand Valley State is second in the GLIAC in team punt-return average (15.6), and Matt Williams is second individually with that average. Junior kicker Joel Schipper is 12-for-13 on field goals and 52-for-54 on PATs.

 

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.

 

Owens Earns GLIAC Co-Coach Of The Year Award

For guiding his team to an undefeated regular season and a share of the GLIAC championship, Owens is the 2015 GLIAC Football Co-Coach of the Year.

Owens led the Eagles to a 10-0 regular-season record, including three home wins against nationally-ranked teams, and their fourth NCAA Division II postseason appearance in his 12 seasons.

He also has led AU to its highest-ever ranking of No. 3 in the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Division II Top 25 poll.

This is the third time Owens has received GLIAC Coach of the Year honors (2005, 2012). He is 89-41 (.685) at Ashland with a pair of GLIAC titles to his credit.

Sharing the Coach of the Year honor with Owens is Ferris State's Tony Annese, whose Bulldogs also earned a share of the GLIAC title and are 10-0 heading into the postseason.

Seven Eagles earned first-team All-GLIAC honors – Settlemire, Shaheen, junior right guard Zachary Douglass, senior defensive end Chase Hoobler, Ashley, Gency and Bruns.

- Settlemire has rushed for 1,058 yards and 12 touchdowns and caught 27 passes for 311 yards and four TDs.

- Shaheen leads all NCAA tight ends at all levels in receptions with 62, and has 709 receiving yards and 10 touchdown grabs.

- Douglass graded out at 91 percent and had 78 takedowns during the regular season.

- Hoobler has 37 total tackles, a sack, five tackles for loss, a fumble recovery and an interception.

- Ashley is tied for the team lead in interceptions with three, and has 49 total tackles (28 solo).

- Gency is the Eagles' tackle leader with 90 total (50 solo), and has 1½ sacks, eight tackles for loss and an interception.

- Bruns would lead the GLIAC in gross punting average with enough attempts, averaging 45.5 yards per boot.

A pair of Eagles – junior nose tackle Brandon Ehlinger and junior free safety Terrell Hudson – earned second-team All-GLIAC honors. Ehlinger has 17 total tackles, 2½ sacks and 6½ tackles for loss, while Hudson is third on the team in total tackles with 58 (30 solo) to go with four tackles for loss, a fumble recovery and an interception.

Ashland has six honorable mention selections – Tarnowski (2,845 yards, 27 touchdowns passing), Cipa (four-year starter), junior stud Adam Wallace (38 total tackles, one sack, 3 1/2 tackles for loss), Olszewski (78 total tackles, team-high nine tackles for loss), Irby (nine pass breakups, three interceptions, 26.7-yard kickoff-return average) and redshirt freshman right tackle John Conner.

 

Tarnowski Taking Place Among Recent AU QB Standouts

Tarnowski hasn't completed two full college seasons, but the comparisons between him and other standout Eagle quarterbacks of recent vintage are becoming unavoidable.

He has started 20 games for the Eagles. When stacking those 20 starts up with the first 20 made by both Billy Cundiff and Taylor Housewright, his numbers are more than comparable:

 

THROUGH FIRST 20 STARTS AT ASHLAND

NAME

RECORD

ATT.

CMP.

CMP.%

YARDS

TD

INT

Travis Tarnowski

18-2

623

380

61.0

5,012

43

13

Taylor Housewright

14-6

452

290

64.2

3,647

34

12

Billy Cundiff

14-6

498

319

64.1

5,002

39

10

 

Eagles Stay No. 3 Going Into Postseason

Ashland University's football team remains ranked No. 3 in the country in the latest AFCA Division II Coaches' Top 25 Poll, released on Monday (Nov. 16).

This is the second consecutive week the Eagles have been ranked No. 3, the program's highest showing since the AFCA Top 25 poll began in 2000. This is the 46th time Ashland has been ranked in the AFCA Top 25 Poll, and the seventh time it has been in the top five. The Eagles' record when playing as a top-five team is 4-1.

Ashland is one of three GLIAC teams in this week's Top 25 poll, along with Ferris State (No. 2) and the Lakers.

AU is one of only four undefeated teams in Division II, along with Northwest Missouri State, Ferris State and Shepherd.

 

Home, Very Sweet Home

This is the seventh season for the Eagles at Jack Miller Stadium/Martinelli Field, and to say they enjoy playing in the still-relatively-new digs on Broad Street is an understatement.

Ashland is 31-7 (.816) at home since 2009, and has won a school-record 12 straight at "The Jack."

 

2015 Competitiveness Chart

A look at the Eagles' 2015 "competitiveness chart" - the measure of how long a team leads, is tied and trails in a game - shows how varied the path to success in each game can be.

Ashland has led for at least 50 of a possible 60 minutes in eight of 10 wins this season, and in all five home victories. The Eagles have been behind at home in 2015 for a TOTAL of four minutes and 42 seconds:

 

DATE

OPPONENT

TIME AHEAD

TIME TIED

TIME BEHIND

9/3

at Lake Erie

54:57

5:03

0:00

9/12

at Walsh

6:20

20:24

33:06

9/19

OHIO DOMINCAN

57:35

2:25

0:00

9/26

FINDLAY

50:30

8:47

0:43

10/3

at Malone

51:14

5:52

2:54

10/10

at Saginaw Valley

35:29

18:23

6:08

10/17

HILLSDALE

53:26

6:34

0:00

10/24

at Northern Mich.

52:38

3:50

3:32

10/31

GRAND VALLEY ST.

52:41

3:20

3:59

11/7

MICHIGAN TECH

53:21

6:39

0:00

 
 

AU

FB/DS