THE TURNING POINT: After a Wayne State field goal cut its deficit to 13-10, Ashland drove 89 yards in 15 plays and burned 8:15 to score a touchdown and regain momentum.
STAT OF THE GAME: The Eagles ended their Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference regular-season road schedule scoring at least 30 points in all five contests.
DETROIT, Mich. - It took a while for Ashland University's football team to get its collective motor running in the Motor City.
Once the No. 12-ranked Eagles' cylinders got hot in the second half of their 30-10 win at Wayne State on Saturday (Oct. 28) afternoon, the result was an eighth consecutive victory and maintaining first place in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference standings.
"It was a tough day," said Ashland head coach Lee Owens. "I thought our guys really hung in there and fought hard. Wayne State did a great job. I thought they played us well.
"We stepped up and made plays on offense when we had to."
Ashland is 8-1 overall and 7-0 in the conference, while the Warriors are 3-6, 2-5.
After both teams traded punts to open the game, Wayne State caught the game's first break with a fumble recovery at the Eagle 27-yard line. Four plays later, Ashland was the team to benefit when the Warriors missed a 44-yard field goal.
On their second possession, the Eagles marched 69 yards in 14 plays and took more than seven minutes off the clock to take a 3-0 lead on a 21-yard field goal by senior kicker Aidan Simenc.
Ashland, which came into the game with just six turnovers in the first seven games of the season, committed its second of the first half on a lost fumble. The Warriors converted on that takeaway when running back Demetrius Stinson scored on a one-yard touchdown run at the 7:07 mark of the second quarter.
Trailing in the second period for the first time since the season-opener at Indiana, Pa., the Eagles responded and took the lead back at 10-7 with 2:19 to the halftime break. Junior tailback Andrew Vaughn cut back against the grain and scored on a 39-yard touchdown run.
Ashland then forced a WSU punt, and got the ball back with 73 seconds to play before the break at the Eagle 14. That drive ended with a 41-yard Simenc field goal for a 13-7 halftime advantage following back-to-back scoring drives that took 56 and 55 seconds, respectively.
"We went hurry-up offense at the end of the first half, and we got two scores," Owens said. "That was huge. We didn't have any continuity. Those two drives, taking them in right before half, was really big for our confidence."
Wayne State got the ball to start the third quarter, and marched to the Eagle 27, where Paul Graham hit a 44-yard field goal to cut the Eagle lead to 13-10 with 8:12 to go in the period. The Warriors seemingly had momentum on their side, but Ashland went to work to get it back - and slow the game down.
Starting at its own 11, Ashland got a Harry Houdini act out of senior quarterback Travis Tarnowski, who scrambled for his first rushing touchdown of 2017 from 11 yards out to put the Eagles on top 20-10. On the ensuing drive, sophomore safety Nick Powers recorded his first interception of the season to thwart Wayne State's comeback attempt.
Simenc's 25-yard field goal, his third of the game, lifted Ashland to a 23-10 lead with 8:57 to go in the game. The next Warrior try to come back ended when junior defensive end James Prater Jr. forced a fumble that sophomore safety Cedric Frierson recovered.
Vaughn's second TD run of the contest, a five-yarder, iced the game for the Eagles at 30-10 with 6:25 to play.
Vaughn ended the day with his fifth 100-yard rushing game of the season and third in a row, posting 157 yards and two scores on 21 carries. Tarnowski was 18-for-28 for 195 yards.
The Eagle defense forced three turnovers and kept Wayne State to 10 points and 242 yards of offense.
Simenc moved into second place on Ashland's all-time scoring list with 280 career points after hitting three field goals and three extra points.
Ashland's senior class has won 35 games over the last four seasons, the most in a four-year span in program history.
UP NEXT: A Top-25 home game on Nov. 4 at 7 p.m. vs. No. 19 Grand Valley State at Jack Miller Stadium/Martinelli Field.