Ashland University's football team lost for the first time in 2014, falling to nationally-ranked Ohio Dominican in Columbus Saturday afternoon, 38-20.
The Eagles now are 2-1 overall and in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. The Panthers, ranked seventh in this week's D2Football.com Top 25 poll and ninth in this week's American Football Coaches Association Coaches' Poll, now are 3-0 overall and in the GLIAC and sit atop the GLIAC South Division.
"They (ODU) just really did a great job keeping our offense on the sidelines," said AU Head Coach Lee Owens. "And we weren't real sharp on offense. We need to take advantage of the opportunities we have, and we left some points out there."
The Eagles started the game strong, taking the game's first drive and using just 1:39 to go four plays and 74 yards to paydirt. Redshirt freshman quarterback Travis Tarnowski found senior wide receiver Eric Thompkins for a 33-yard touchdown and an early 7-0 lead.
Ohio Dominican answered right back on its first drive, tying the game on a 29-yard Mark Miller-to-Dez Stewart touchdown strike.
Early in the second quarter, Ashland fell behind for the first time in 2014 when Miller found Ronald McCloud for a 3-yard touchdown pass. Less than four minutes later, Miller and McCloud hooked up again for a 9-yard scoring pass to put the Panthers ahead 21-7.
Ashland senior running back Anthony Taylor made history with 35 seconds left until halftime when he scored on a 1-yard touchdown run. It was Taylor's 36th career touchdown, moving him past former AU running back Don Church into first place on the program's all-time list.
"We're going to give him the football," Owens said. "He tied the record last week, and we gave him the football."
But ODU used an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and moved 46 yards in just 27 seconds to allow Brent Wahle to hit a 39-yard field goal to end the first half, giving the Panthers a 24-14 halftime advantage.
Ashland caught a break right before its first drive of the second half when Ohio Dominican failed to down a punt inside the Eagles' 5-yard line. AU took full advantage, moving 80 yards in 13 plays and 5:54, and scoring on a Tarnowski-to-Taylor 5-yard shovel pass touchdown.
The extra point was blocked, but the Eagles were back within striking distance at 24-20.
Ohio Dominican pulled away for good with two fourth-quarter touchdowns, both Miller four-yard passes to Casey Williams and Nick McKnight.
Tarnowski was 13-for-22 for 116 yards and two touchdowns. Taylor ran 17 times for 75 yards and a score. On defense, senior linebacker Chris Harvey recorded 15 total tackles, while senior defensive end Chase Hoobler had seven total tackles and two for loss.
Miller was 27-for-33 for 310 yards and five touchdowns for ODU.
"He just kept throwing it out there, and there would always be someone (who would) run under it," Owens said. "Miller's a winner."
Saturday was the first time in the five-game series between the Eagles and the Panthers in which the home team was victorious.
Ashland will return to action next Saturday at 3 p.m. in a second consecutive road game against Findlay.
"(There's) a lot of football to play yet," Owens said. "We're going to have better days, better results."