BIG RAPIDS, Mich. – Finishing the first half of its 2018 schedule, Ashland University's football team lost on Saturday (Sept. 29) to No. 4-ranked Ferris State, 28-21.
The Eagles are 2-3 overall and 2-1 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, while the Bulldogs are 5-0, 3-0.
Ashland kept NCAA Division II's top rushing offense to 126 yards on 42 attempts, and out-gained D-II's top overall offense, 413-398.
The Eagles have lost to three nationally-ranked teams this season by four (Indiana, Pa.), seven (Ohio Dominican) and seven (Ferris State) points.
FIRST AND TEN
1. Early on, Ashland went for fourth-and-five from the Bulldog 34-yard line, and the pass fell incomplete, but the Eagle defense responded with a quick three-and-out to force a punt. Following the first AU punt of the day, Ferris State's second drive of the contest resulted in a missed 41-yard field goal.
2. The third drive for the Eagles ended in another fourth-down miss, this one a sack which gave the Bulldogs the ball on the Ashland 45. But once again, the AU defense was equal to the task, recording its own fourth-down stop at its 31.
3. "Stalemate" was the key word in the first quarter, and that continued into the second period thanks to a bad snap on a Bulldog 30-yard field-goal attempt with 8:33 to go until the halftime break. Ashland's offense took full advantage, as junior tailback Luke Ogi took a pitch and went five yards for the first score of the game. The 10-play, 80-yard, five-plus-minute drive lifted the Eagles to a 7-0 lead.
4. Ferris State came back right before halftime looking for its first points, and the Bulldogs found them. Quarterback Jayru Campbell hit wide receiver Sy Barnett on a fade pattern for a six-yard touchdown to knot the game at 7 with 13 ticks left in the first half.
5. The Bulldogs needed just 1:37 to take the lead at the start of the second half, as Campbell and Barnett connected again, this time for a 15-yard scoring strike. Ferris State went 67 yards in five plays to go on top.
6. Ashland went three-and-out on its first possession of the third quarter, and after a defensive stop, started the next drive with 99 yards to go after a tricky 43-yard punt by Barnett. The Eagles got to their 46 before being forced to kick away.
7. Campbell accounted for his third touchdown of the game, as his 23-yard scoring scramble made it a 21-7 Bulldog advantage with 5:53 left in the third quarter. Ferris State scored what would be the game-winning touchdown shortly thereafter, as a 16-yard interception-return touchdown by linebacker Delon Stephenson put the Bulldogs up by three touchdowns.
8. Redshirt freshman quarterback Austin Brenner started the fourth-quarter comeback with 30-yard touchdown pass to sophomore tight end Michael Schweitzer with 12:19 to play. The Eagles got the ball back with 7:43 left at their 27, and senior tailback Andrew Vaughn slammed in from two yards out to cut the deficit to 28-21 with 3:08 to go.
9. The Eagles got the defensive stop they needed thanks to a three-and-out, and with 2:44 remaining, Ashland had the ball again at its 33. Brenner marched the offense down the field once more, and on fourth-and-3 from the FSU 29, a completed pass was marked a few inches short of a first down.
10. With eight catches on Saturday, Ashland senior wide receiver Kamaron Green moved into ninth place on the program's all-time receptions list (115). Vaughn ran for 116 yards and a score on 19 carries, while junior inside linebacker Clay Shreve racked up 16 total tackles, 2½ sacks and 2½ tackles for loss.
The start of the second half of the season on Oct. 6 at 7 p.m. at Jack Miller Stadium/Martinelli Field vs. Saginaw Valley State (5-0, 2-0).