Trailing 31-14 with 5:21 left in the first half on the road against another Top 10 team, the No. 5-ranked Ashland University football team had to come up with a sustained team effort to come back and beat No. 7-ranked Ferris State on Saturday (Sept. 24).
And a sustained team effort is what the Eagles got.
- First, junior kicker Aidan Simenc gave Ashland some needed momentum with a 23-yard field goal to end the first half. The Eagles went into the locker room down by 14 points at 31-17, instead of 17 points.
- Next, the junior quarterback-to-tight end tandem of Travis Tarnowski and Adam Shaheen hooked up for a 70-yard touchdown pass. Even with the blocked extra point, the Eagles were back in the game at 31-23 with 6:44 left in the third quarter.
- Following a Bulldogs fumble forced by junior defensive end Austin Utter and recovered by senior inside linebacker Zach Olszewski at the Eagle 3, a 17-play, 85-yard drive which lasted 8:04 ended with another Simenc field goal, this one from 29 yards, to cut the deficit to 31-26 early in the fourth quarter.
- With 7:52 left in the game, senior nose tackle Brandon Ehlinger stopped a Ferris State fourth-and-1 play for a two-yard loss, turning the ball back over to the offense.
- Four plays later, sophomore wide receiver Kamaron Green scored on a 33-yard Tarnowski touchdown pass to put Ashland on top, 32-31, with 6:08 remaining.
- Three plays after that, senior inside linebacker Brandon Gency turned in a "grand slam" – sack/forced fumble/fumble recovery/39-yard touchdown return with 4:48 left in the game to provide the final margin of victory.
- Finally, with 1:36 to play, sophomore cornerback Ahmauree Hastings defensed a fourth-and-2 pass to stop a final Bulldog threat at the Eagle 15.
SCORING ALMOST AT WILL: Ashland has scored at least 35 points in all four games in 2016. Going back to the start of the 2014 season (Tarnowski's first collegiate start), the Eagles have put up at least 35 points in 18 of 25 contests.
A TIGHT END IS DOING THIS: Shaheen is averaging 106.8 receiving yards through the first month of the season. Going back to the end of 2015, he is averaging 95.5 yards in the last eight games. Shaheen leads all NCAA tight ends at all levels with 427 receiving yards in 2016.
NOT ALLOWING MUCH IN THE SECOND HALF: The Eagles have allowed just 13 total points in the second half in 2016 – a vast improvement over the final four games of 2015 (64 points). Ashland has outscored its opponents 86-13 in the third and fourth quarters through four games.