In the season-opener at nationally-ranked Indiana, Pa., Ashland University's defense tightened up in the second half and gave the Eagles the opportunity for a win.
In Saturday (Sept. 9) night's 47-21 home-opening victory against Ohio Dominican, the Eagle "D" played a key role in Ashland improving its early-season record to 1-1.
The opener at the Crimson Hawks saw the AU defense allow just 29 yards in a 15-play span in the third and fourth quarters while the game was tied at 23. On ODU's final three drives on Saturday, the Eagles yielded just 68 yards and forced two turnovers on downs while pulling away on the scoreboard.
Ashland allowed just 29 rushing yards vs. Ohio Dominican, and in the last three meetings, the Panthers gained just 92, 58 and 29 yards on the ground.
Since the start of the 2016 season, the Eagles have kept opponents to less than 30 rushing yards four times in 13 games.
Vaughn Breaks Out With Dual-Threat Game
In his second consecutive start to begin the season, junior tailback Andrew Vaughn carried the ball 21 times for 124 yards (both second-best in career) for two touchdowns (career high) against the Panthers.
"That's what we pride ourselves on here at Ashland, running the football," said Vaughn, who paced an AU 186-yard rushing attack. "We've had great running backs, a great offensive line. The offensive line did great tonight. They work the hardest of anybody in practice. When those guys are fired up, the offense is going to roll."
Vaughn also set new AU highs for receptions (five) and receiving yards (82), giving him his first 200-yard scrimmage game (206) as an Eagle.
Through two weeks of 2017, Vaughn is the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference's top workhorse with 44 carries, and is third in the league with 213 rushing yards.
Wilcox Keeps The Receiving Average High
Senior wide receiver Matthew Wilcox came into the 2017 season averaging 26.2 yards per catch in his Eagle career.
On Saturday, Wilcox averaged 29.4 yards on five grabs, including a career-long 74-yard catch-and-run touchdown – one of two scoring catches on the night. He now has 14 career TD catches at Ashland, and is averaging 33 yards on those scoring catches.
"It's really awesome. When we line up on the ball, we check the coverage," Wilcox said of senior quarterback Travis Tarnowski, "and I look at him and he looks at me, and we both have the same idea of what we're about to do."
Tarnowski Ends Rivalry With Panthers Strong
Tarnowski earned his first 300-yard passing game against ODU, going 22-for-30 for 377 yards and two touchdowns.
In four career games vs. the Panthers, Tarnowski finished 65-for-101 for 1,012 yards, nine touchdowns and two interceptions.
With 8,857 career passing yards, Tarnowski is getting closer to the program record of 9,143, set by Billy Cundiff. Tarnowski's 9,137 career total offense yards also are second to Cundiff's 9,662.
During the Eagles' 18-game regular-season home winning streak, they have scored at least 27 points in every contest and are averaging 43.2 points in those games…Ashland is 8-1 in home openers at Jack Miller Stadium/Martinelli Field…Senior cornerback Michael Griffin broke up two passes for the second consecutive game.