Ashland University's football team has gone from 1-2 to 4-2 in what seems like a blink of an eye, and all three games of the winning streak have similar characteristics:
- There has been a renewed emphasis on the running game, and the result has been eight touchdowns, 650 yards on the ground and 5.0 yards per attempt over the last three weeks. Freshman tailback Gei'vonni Washington has become the workhorse, racking up 428 yards and six scores on 88 attempts (4.9 ypc.) during the winning streak.
"It feels good. I love running behind this offensive line," Washington said. "The line, they just get the holes."
- The improved running game has taken pressure off sophomore quarterback Austin Brenner, who is 37-for-62 (59.7 percent) for 477 yards, three touchdowns and one interception during the win streak. The top beneficiary in the passing game has been junior wide receiver Logan Bolin, who has collected 315 yards and two touchdowns on 12 catches (26.3 ypc.) over the last three weeks.
"He's a heck of a receiver," Brenner said. "I'm confident every time I look his way that he's going to make a play."
- Defensively, Ashland has allowed just one rushing TD in three weeks, to go with a continued strong run-stopping unit overall which has yielded just 3.5 yards per attempt during the streak. The Eagles have forced six turnovers in the last three weeks, including a fumble recovery on Saturday (Oct. 12) vs. Davenport by junior inside linebacker Ryan Corkrean which led to the go-ahead AU touchdown in the third quarter.
"(Sophomore defensive tackle Nick) Cone got after him. I came off the edge and Cone strip-sacked him and I picked it up," Corkrean said. "Momentum play."
- And, of course, there's the comebacks. The Eagles trailed 20-10 early in the fourth quarter before a 31-28 win at Northwood, then 10-0 late in the fourth before a 20-17 Hail Mary-led victory at Grand Valley State, then 13-0 late in the second prior to the 30-27 Homecoming decision over Davenport.
A LONG ROAD TO GO…
The three-game winning streak has kept Ashland in the NCAA Division II postseason conversation with five weeks to play. With the first regional rankings still two weeks away, 20 teams in Super Region 3 have two losses or less.