On the first drive of Saturday's (Sept. 22) 35-10 Homecoming win over Northwood, Ashland University's football team's offense was a lot closer to its own end zone than the Timberwolves'.
No matter – the Eagles started from their own 10-yard line and drove 90 yards in eight plays and 3:10 for a lead they never would relinquish. That was a theme throughout Ashland staying undefeated in the early Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference going (2-2 overall, 2-0 GLIAC) – of the five touchdown drives on Saturday, four were 90, 85, 75 and 62 yards.
In the first four games of the season, Ashland has had 17 scoring drives. Of those, 10 have spanned at least 62 yards, and eight have gone at least 74 yards.
BACKS SCORE IN BUNCHES, EAGLES WIN
In both of Ashland's wins this season, an Eagle tailback has rushed for multiple touchdowns. Senior Andrew Vaughn rushed for two TDs at Wayne State, and junior Luke Ogi did the same on Saturday vs. Northwood.
"The offensive line did a great job," said Ogi, as the entire team rushed for 249 yards and three scores. "They're getting better with every game. We have a young group up front. Today was another testament that they are getting much better."
This continues a very successful pattern for the AU offense. In 2017, the Eagles were 4-0 when Vaughn rushed for at least two scores, and in 2016, they were undefeated when Vance Settlemire (3-0), Keishaun Sims (2-0) and Ogi (2-0) did the same.
In fact, Ashland's last loss when one of its players ran for at least two touchdowns came on Nov. 2, 2013 at Findlay.
OPPONENTS FIND NO RUN TRACTION
The Eagle defense is allowing just 99.0 rushing yards per game, and 2.8 yards per rushing attempt, in 2018. In back-to-back wins, those stats are even better – 82.5 yards per game and 2.1 yards per attempt.
Ashland's trio of senior defensive end James Prater Jr. (six), sophomore inside linebacker Ryan Corkrean (4½) and junior inside linebacker Clay Shreve (2½) have been the biggest factors statistically, combining for 13 of the Eagles' 21 tackles for loss this season.
This sets up perhaps the matchup of the game coming up on Saturday (Sept. 29) at 3 p.m. in Big Rapids, Mich., between the Eagles and nationally-ranked Ferris State (4-0, 2-0). The Bulldogs have the top rushing offense in the GLIAC in yards per game (340.3), yards per attempt (6.9) and touchdowns (16).
Ashland is plus-2 in turnover ratio this season, and redshirt freshman quarterback Austin Brenner is a key reason why. Brenner hasn't thrown an interception in 76 attempts, the second-most throws in the GLIAC without a pick…The young offensive line of junior left tackle Ryan Maguire, redshirt freshman center Samson Hairston and true freshmen Alex Maxin (left guard), Trey Madison (right guard) and Gavin Posey (right tackle) have allowed three sacks in the last two games. "That young offensive line is growing up a little bit. They're pretty talented," said Ashland head coach Lee Owens....The Ashland-Ferris State game will be streamed live on ESPN3.