THE TURNING POINT: Ashland senior tailback Vance Settlemire scored on a two-yard touchdown run 4:50 into the game, and the Eagles didn't look back.
STAT OF THE GAME: The Eagles allowed just 86 total yards of offense to the Cavaliers – the fewest yielded by Ashland in a game at Jack Miller Stadium/Martinelli Field.
Everyone associated with the Ashland University football program knows the Eagles to had to win their final two regular-season games to have a shot at the 2016 NCAA Division II postseason.
The first part of that equation was accomplished on Saturday (Nov. 5) afternoon, as the No. 21-ranked Eagles topped Walsh, 56-0, on Senior Day at Jack Miller Stadium/Martinelli Field. Ashland is 8-2 overall and 6-2 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, while the Cavaliers are 1-9, 0-9.
"There were some things we needed to work on in the first half, after last week, and we were able to do that," said Ashland head coach Lee Owens, referencing the Eagles' 24-21 loss in Week 9 at Michigan Tech. "We were talking about how well do you bounce back, make sure that you play at a different level.
"Today, more than anything else, was recognizing this senior group. We wanted to make sure, regardless of who the opponent was, we play in a way to really honor what they've meant to this program, and I think we did that. I don't know if we could have played any better."
Ashland was No. 7 in the second set of Division II Super Region 4 rankings. The top seven teams in each super region advance to the NCAA playoffs.
"Records" was the key word for the Eagles in the next-to-last game of the 2016 regular season. Ashland's defense pitched its second shutout of the season and fifth game allowing single-digit points, and the 86 yards of total offense for Walsh are AU's fewest allowed in a game at Jack Miller Stadium/Martinelli Field since it opened in 2009.
"We've been in this situation a couple times this year. It just seems like when it does happen, when we sub in, our backups always seem to play pretty well," Owens said. "The level of play doesn't drop off very much. That's encouraging."
Junior tight end Adam Shaheen caught two second-quarter touchdowns to tie the NCAA Division II record for most single-season TD grabs by a tight end with 15. The record was set by Arkansas-Monticello's Devon Stewart in 2003, and tied by West Liberty's Ryan Travis in 2010.
Shaheen has caught 25 career touchdown passes, three shy of AU's school record of 28, set by Joe Horn.
Senior tailback Vance Settlemire scored on touchdown runs of two, 23 and eight yards on Saturday, giving him 44 for his AU career – one shy of former backfield mate Anthony Taylor's school record of 45. With 126 rushing yards, Settlemire became the seventh player in program history with at least 3,000 in a career (3,032).
Ashland racked up 529 yards of total offense against the Cavaliers. Sophomore tailback Andrew Vaughn joined Settlemire with 126 rushing yards, as the Eagles finished with 402 as a team.
Junior quarterback Travis Tarnowski was 11-for-15 for 117 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He has 30 touchdown passes in 2016, and 76 for his career – three shy of tying Billy Cundiff for the all-time program lead.
Senior safety Terrell Hudson finished with six total tackles and two for loss.
"The thing you do worry about a little bit is there's been a couple times this season where it has been so easy for us that you worry about the expectation that it's going to be that easy every week," said Owens, "but we know that isn't the case."
UP NEXT: The 2016 regular-season finale on Oct. 12 at noon at Ohio Dominican.