Thanks to its last-second 34-31 win over No. 19 Grand Valley State on Saturday (Nov. 4) night at Jack Miller Stadium/Martinelli Field, the No. 11-ranked Ashland University football team has clinched no worse than a share of the 2017 Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship.
The Eagles can win the 2017 GLIAC title outright with a victory on Senior Day, Saturday (Nov. 11) at 1 p.m. at home vs. Saginaw Valley State (5-5, 3-5). That would be Ashland's second outright GLIAC championship, with the first coming in 2012. The program's other GLIAC title came in 2015, shared with Ferris State.
Ashland will take a 21-game regular-season home winning streak into the game with the Cardinals, as well as a nine-game winning streak overall.
No matter the outcome against SVSU, the Eagles have their 16th all-time conference championship:
- Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference – 1954, 1955, 1960, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965
- Heartland Collegiate Conference – 1980, 1982, 1984, 1985, 1986
- Midwest Intercollegiate Football Conference – 1997
- Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference – 2012, 2015, 2017
Simenc Game-Winner A Six-Year Wait For Eagles
Senior kicker Aidan Simenc lifted Ashland to its win over the Lakers with a 29-yard field goal as time expired on Saturday night.
The last time an Eagle kicker won a game with a field goal in the closing seconds was Oct. 15, 2011, when Gregg Berkshire's 43-yarder at the final gun gave Ashland a 20-17 home victory over previously-undefeated Wayne State.
Vaughn Joins Ashland's 1,000-Yard Club
Thanks to 161 yards on Saturday night, junior tailback Andrew Vaughn has earned his first 1,000-yard rushing season as an Eagle. He is up to 1,086 yards and 13 touchdowns on just 184 carries in 2017, and nearly half of his yardage total (493) and more than half of his rushing TDs (seven) have come in the last three games.
Vaughn's season gives Ashland 21 all-time 1,000-yard rushing campaigns. His 1,086 rushing yards are 14th all-time on Ashland's single-season list, and his 13 rushing scores are tied for fourth-most in the nearly 100 seasons of Ashland football.
A New Receiving Hero Every Game
Senior wide receiver Jamie Hence caught a career-high eight passes for 79 yards on Saturday night, becoming the fifth different Eagle in 10 games this season to lead the team in receptions in a game.
Ashland has six players with at least 20 catches this season, same as in 2016. There are seven Eagles with at least 15 grabs in 2017, the program's highest single-season mark since 2015.
Prater Keeps Climbing By Knocking Opponents Back
Junior defensive end James Prater Jr. is up to 16 tackles for loss this season, and he needs just two more to tie the program record of 18, set by Allen Lattimore in 2004.
Prater has recorded his tackles for loss in bunches this season, having at least 1 1/2 in five of nine starts.