It's now six up, and six down.
Ashland University's football team, ranked No. 9 in Division II, improved to 6-0 overall and in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference following a 33-7 win on Saturday (Oct. 10) night at Saginaw Valley State (0-6, 0-5). The Eagles are two games ahead of both Ohio Dominican and Tiffin in the GLIAC South Division with four games to play.
This is the sixth time in program history that AU has started a season with at least six straight victories. The Eagles used 33 unanswered points, six scoring drives of 10 or more plays, 41:42 time of possession (most in the Lee Owens era) and a defense which yielded just 163 yards to remain undefeated.
As was the case in last year's meeting, the Cardinals struck first. Quarterback Brad Odeman Jr. found wide receiver Marq Johnson for a 43-yard touchdown pass to give SVSU a 7-0 lead with 7:28 left in the opening quarter.
The ensuing kickoff went out of bounds, giving the Eagles good field position as their 35-yard line. Ashland marched 65 yards in 12 plays and tied the game on a four-yard touchdown run by sophomore quarterback Travis Tarnowski.
Ashland took the lead for the first time at 10-7 with 5:29 to go until halftime when sophomore kicker Aidan Simenc hit a 23-yard field goal. That capped off a 15-play, 53-yard drive.
Just before halftime, AU finished off another lengthy drive – this one 10 plays and 67 yards – with a one-yard touchdown run by senior tailback Jordan McCune to make it 17 consecutive points and a 10-point lead.
On their first possession of the second half, the Eagles drove 75 yards in 16 plays to make it 20 straight points after a 25-yard Simenc field goal. After AU freshman tailback Andrew Vaughn recovered a Cardinal fumble on the ensuing kickoff at the SVSU 25, Simenc nailed his third field goal of the game from 21 yards for a 23-7 Eagle advantage with 3:47 left in the third quarter.
Early in the final quarter, Simenc hit his career-high fourth field goal – a 27-yarder – to give Ashland a 26-7 advantage. Vaughn capped the scoring with a three-yard touchdown run with 2:12 left in the contest.
Tarnowski was 26-for-44 for 280 yards, completing passes to 10 different receivers. Junior tailback Vance Settlemire ran 10 times for 36 yards and caught a career-high seven passes for 56 yards, all in the first half.
The Eagles were 13-for-19 on third downs and converted their only fourth-down attempt. Ashland ran 89 offensive plays (most since 89 at Grand Valley State last season) to SVSU's 40.
Ashland will return home for three of its final four regular-season games of 2015, starting with Homecoming and the Traveling Trophy game against Hillsdale on Saturday, Oct. 17 at 1 p.m. at Jack Miller Stadium/Martinelli Field.