THE TURNING POINT: Sophomore linebacker Clay Shreve's third-down sack halted Northwood's first drive, resulting in a missed field goal and setting up the remainder of the game.
STATS OF THE GAME: Redshirt senior quarterback Travis Tarnowski became Ashland's all-time leader in passing yards (9,196), and head coach Lee Owens won his 100th career game with the Eagles.
MIDLAND, Mich. – The 2017 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference opener for Ashland University's football team was a rousing success.
The Eagles improved to 2-1 overall and 1-0 in the GLIAC thanks to their seventh straight victory over Northwood, a 42-14 decision on the road on Saturday (Sept. 16) afternoon. The Timberwolves are 2-1, 0-1.
As a result, Ashland head coach Lee Owens won his 100th game leading the Eagles, becoming just the second head coach in program history to do so (College Football Hall of Famer Dr. Fred Martinelli, 217). Owens is 100-45 at AU.
"You can't have success unless you surround yourself with great people," said Owens, now the owner of 229 career head-coaching wins in 34 seasons at the college and high school levels, "and we've been fortunate to have great people here."
Redshirt senior quarterback Travis Tarnowski, playing in just the first two quarters, set a new program career record and tied a program single-game mark. He was 15-for-18 for 339 yards and five touchdowns, becoming Ashland's all-time leader in passing yards (9,196) and tying his own mark for TD tosses in a contest.
"It feels good," said Tarnowski, "to be able to come up to a place like this and be able to be as focused and dialed-in as we were in the first half."
The Timberwolves marched down the field with the game's opening possession, but a third-down sack by sophomore inside linebacker Clay Shreve forced a 44-yard field goal attempt, which landed short.
Ashland converted on its first third-down attempt of a game on the ensuing possession, and it was a big one. Tarnowski was off-balance during a sack attempt as he threw deep to find senior wide receiver Jamie Hence for a 66-yard catch-and-run touchdown for an early 7-0 advantage.
Shreve came up with his second behind-the-line play of the opening quarter on Northwood's second possession, a one-yard loss to force a three-and-out. A 45-yard pass from Tarnowski to senior wide receiver Matthew Wilcox, then a fourth-down conversion from Tarnowski to Wilcox, set up a two-yard scoring pass from Tarnowski to redshirt freshman tight end Michael Schweitzer on the first play of the second quarter.
At that point, both Ashland and Northwood had run 15 plays on offense, but the Eagles had a 14-0 lead.
Defense continued to be a strong point for Ashland, as it forced a second consecutive three-and-out. Tarnowski and Wilcox hooked up for another long pass, a 66-yard touchdown bomb on play-action. With 12:54 until halftime, the Eagles led 21-0, Tarnowski had 216 passing yards and Wilcox caught passes for 136 of those yards.
Redshirt freshman inside linebacker Tyler Tokos then recovered a fumble for the first turnover of the game on either side, setting up the AU offense on the Timberwolves' 39-yard line. Junior tailback Andrew Vaughn's cutback run from one side of the field to the other resulted in a 13-yard touchdown jaunt and a 28-0 Eagle lead with 10:01 to go before the break.
Tarnowski's fourth touchdown pass of the first half, a six-yarder to redshirt freshman wide receiver Logan Bolin, extended the Eagles' lead to 35-0 at the 7:24 mark of the second quarter. Tarnowski found Bolin again for a five-yard score with 49 seconds remaining before halftime for a 42-0 lead.
Wilcox caught seven passes for 207 yards and a score – the catches and yards being single-game highs at Ashland.
UP NEXT: Back home to Jack Miller Stadium/Martinelli Field on Saturday, Sept. 23 at 7 p.m. against No. 2-ranked Ferris State. The game will be streamed nationally on ESPN3.