Unfortunately for Ashland University's football team on Thursday (Aug. 30) night, recent history repeated itself.
The 2018 season opener at Jack Miller Stadium/Martinelli Field saw the 15th-ranked Eagles lose for the second consecutive season to No. 4-ranked Indiana, Pa., 21-17. Ashland lost at home in a regular-season game for the first time since Oct. 12, 2013 to Ohio Dominican.
"I was impressed with the fight of the players," said Ashland University head coach Lee Owens. "I was impressed with, at times, how we played defense, ran the football. I thought we played a physical football game, and that was the goal.
"We found a lot out about our football team, particularly offensively. You play one of the best teams in the country, it's going to reveal how you are."
To begin the 2017 season, the Eagles lost at then-No. 9 IUP, 26-23, on a last-second field goal, in the first-ever meeting between the two programs.
FIRST AND TEN
- The big Indiana, Pa., offensive connection was senior quarterback Lenny Williams Jr. to senior wide receiver Ricky Rogers. Williams and Rogers combined for three touchdown passes, with Williams finishing 19-for-28 for 214 yards, and Rogers catching six passes for 73 yards.
- IUP's first Williams-to-Rogers score came with 2:06 left in the first quarter. The Eagles countered early in the second quarter on a 19-yard field goal from sophomore kicker Satchel Denton to cut the deficit to 7-3 with 11:47 to go until halftime.
- Ashland's first lead came courtesy of senior tailback Andrew Vaughn's six-yard touchdown run at the 4:20 mark of the second quarter. The seven-play, 72-yard drive put the Eagles on top, 10-7.
- After that, Williams and Rogers went to work again, connecting on touchdown passes of 20 yards in the final 30 seconds of the first half, then 13 yards with 10:03 to play for a 21-10 Crimson Hawks advantage.
- A valiant Eagle comeback began at that point. Redshirt freshman punter/quarterback Austin Brenner took off for a 26-yard run from punt formation to keep the AU drive alive, then senior quarterback Billy Bahl did his best Michael Vick impersonation in finding Vaughn for a 14-yard gain on fourth-and-13. All that led to a 21-yard scoring jaunt by junior tailback Luke Ogi cut the deficit to 21-17 with 4:25 to play.
- Ashland's defense got the stop the team needed on the ensuing IUP possession, giving the Eagles one last chance at the victory. Getting to the Crimson Hawks' 25-yard line, Ashland could get no closer, resulting in a turnover on downs.
- Vaughn ran 22 times for 133 yards and a score. It was his 10th 100-yard rushing game as an Eagle. Bahl was 15-for-21 for 115 yards in his Ashland debut.
- Defensively, senior defensive end James Prater Jr. filled up the stat sheet with nine total tackles, a sack, three tackles for loss and a quarterback hurry, while junior inside linebacker Clay Shreve ended with 10 total stops and a half-tackle for loss.
- Junior stud Tristan Reichelderfer blocked a field goal on Thursday, the second Eagle blocked field goal in the last 10 games dating back to last season.
- For IUP, senior defensive end Deandre Easterling finished with six total tackles, 2½ sacks and 2½ tackles for loss, while junior defensive end Dondrea Tillman had five total tackles, two sacks and two tackles for loss.
The first road game of 2018 on Sept. 8 at 7 p.m. vs. Ohio Dominican (1-0).