THE TURNING POINT: Ashland embarked on a seven-play, 71-yard game-opening drive, but was stopped on a fourth-and-goal play from the one-yard line.
STAT OF THE GAME: The Eagles allowed as many as 27 points in a road loss for the first time since Nov. 8, 2014 at Michigan Tech (28-12).
TIFFIN, Ohio - The pattern for Ashland University's football team in the early part of the 2016 season has been to get off to slow starts, then rally for a win.
On Saturday (Oct. 1) afternoon at Tiffin, the No. 5-ranked Eagles fell behind 14-0, but couldn't get closer than three points away in a 35-32 loss. Ashland is 4-1 overall and 3-1 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, while Tiffin is 3-2, 2-2.
"Their coaches had a great plan on both sides of the ball, and they executed," said Ashland head coach Lee Owens. "The whole day was uncharacteristic, but give Tiffin credit. They stopped us.
"The reality is, we didn't execute. Obviously, our plan wasn't as good as their plan, and our players didn't execute as well. Ultimately, they ended up winning the football game."
Tiffin took its two-touchdown lead after stopping the Eagles on a fourth-and-goal from the Dragon 1 on the opening drive of the game. Ashland began its comeback with 10 straight points in the second quarter on a 30-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Travis Tarnowski to junior tight end Adam Shaheen and a 31-yard field goal by junior kicker Aidan Simenc.
The Dragons and Eagles traded scores throughout the rest of the first half and into the second. Early in the fourth quarter, Tiffin senior quarterback Antonio Pipkin found junior wideout Trent Stamm for a 10-yard touchdown and a 28-17 advantage.
Ashland came back just more than three minutes later, as Tarnowski and Shaheen hooked up for an 18-yard score. Tarnowski then found senior tailback Vance Settlemire for the 2-point conversion to cut the Eagle deficit to 28-25.
Following an exchange of turnovers later in the fourth, Pipkin's seven-yard touchdown run with 61 seconds to play put the Dragons ahead 35-25. The Eagles needed just two plays and 22 seconds to get the deficit back to three points on the third Tarnowski-to-Shaheen scoring pass, a 23-yarder, but the ensuing onside kick was unsuccessful.
Tarnowski set a new personal high with 402 passing yards and was 24-for-44 with three touchdowns and one interception. Shaheen caught 10 passes for a career-high 165 yards and three scores, and moved into a tie for 10th place on Ashland's all-time receptions list.
On defense, junior defensive end Austin Utter had a team-high 12 total tackles to go with a half-tackle for loss, while senior inside linebacker Brandon Gency added 10 total tackles (eight solos), one sack, 1½ tackles for loss and a 10-yard interception return.
Tiffin junior wide receiver Charles Holland caught 11 passes for 262 yards and two touchdowns. The receiving yards are the most against the Eagles in a single game all-time.
UP NEXT: Homecoming against Northwood on Oct. 8 at 1 p.m. at Jack Miller Stadium/Martinelli Field.