No. 9 Eagles Travel To Saginaw To Start Season’s Second Half

No. 9 Eagles Travel To Saginaw To Start Season’s Second Half

For the full PDF version of the Week 6 game notes, go to


Sights and Sounds

This week's game will be broadcast live on WNCO-AM 1340, with Matt Brubaker handling the play-by-play and Don Graham providing the commentary. The game can be heard at, and also can be accessed on the scoreboard page on the home page of the AU athletics website -

Head coach Lee Owens also can be heard during his weekly appearance on WRDL-FM 88.9's morning show, "The Early Bird's Word," every Thursday at 8 a.m.


Looking Ahead and Behind

The Eagles, ranked No. 9 in the country and leading the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference's South Division, will play their next-to-last road game of the 2015 regular season in Week 6 against longtime conference rival Saginaw Valley State. AU will play three of its last four games of the regular season at Jack Miller Stadium/Martinelli Field.

Ashland has won its first three road games of the season by an average margin of 43-21.

The Eagles finished the first half of 2015 with a 42-17 win against Malone in Week 5 at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium in Canton. AU pulled away from the Pioneers on the strength of 28 consecutive first-half points. Ashland is 4-0 all-time against Malone.


Last Look At Week Five

The ghosts of Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium have been exorcised.

Ashland University's football team has had trouble in Canton in the past. That trouble ended in Week 5, as the Eagles scored 28 consecutive first-half points en route to a 42-17 victory over Malone.

Malone began the game by recovering an Eagle fumble on the opening kickoff, then scoring a touchdown six plays later just 3:05 into the game. Ashland didn't waste any time rallying, however, scoring on a 10-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Travis Tarnowski to sophomore tight end Adam Shaheen at the 9:01 mark of the first quarter, then on a two-yard touchdown run by junior tailback Vance Settlemire at the 6:14 mark.

Then, in the second quarter, AU added two more touchdowns on a Tarnowski-to-junior fullback Dan Medvetz five-yard pass and a Tarnowski-to-sophomore wide receiver Terrance Burt 35-yard strike.

Malone scored on the final play of the first half and added a third-quarter field goal to make the Pioneer deficit 28-17, but AU finished off the victory with another Tarnowski-to-Shaheen TD pass, this one 12 yards in the third quarter, then a nine-yard scoring run by Settlemire in the fourth quarter.

Settlemire ran 28 times for 150 yards and two touchdowns, and has posted strong numbers in the last three contests – 83 carries, 512 yards and five scores. He is the first AU player to have three consecutive 150-plus-yard rushing games since all-time leading rusher Anthony Taylor from Oct. 5-19, 2013.

Tarnowski was 17-for-26 for 201 yards, a season-high four touchdowns and an interception. Saturday's game was his third this season with three or more TD passes, and his fifth such game as an Eagle.

Shaheen caught six passes for 46 yards and two scores, and his 30 catches this season already are the most for an AU tight end in the Owens era.

Ashland was a season-best 7-of-10 in third-down conversions.

The Eagles had plenty of standouts on a defense which gave up just two touchdowns and 242 total of offense, and recorded four sacks, 13 tackles for loss and two interceptions.

Junior inside linebacker Brandon Gency had a team-high 15 total tackles (six solo) and 2½ tackles for loss, while sophomore cornerback Dale Irby had two interceptions. Senior defensive tackle Tim Lehr added five total stops, a half-sack and two tackles for loss.

Ashland was helped by 13 Pioneer penalties for 125 yards in markoffs. The Eagles were penalized once in the victory.


Ashland-Saginaw Valley State

Saturday night's game will be the 20th between the Eagles and the Cardinals, who have been conference rivals since Ashland joined the Midwest Intercollegiate Football Conference.

Last season, Ashland defeated Saginaw Valley State at home, 38-7. The Eagle offense ran up 473 yards and scored five touchdowns, while the defense held the Cardinals to one score and 182 yards of offense.

In the only overtime game of the series in 2000, SVSU bested the Eagles, 42-35. Ashland tied the game with 28 seconds to play on a Jeff Leopold-to-Jarrod Pruiett touchdown pass, but the Cardinals scored the only points in the extra session.


Leaders Of The Pack

The 2015 Ashland University football captains are split evenly between offense and defense, and they span across three classes in eligibility.

This year's captains are senior rover Donzale Ashley, senior guard Jon Cipa, junior inside linebacker Gency and Tarnowski, a sophomore quarterback.


What Does A Quick Start Mean? Well…

There still is a half of a regular-season schedule left to play, but the 5-0 start by Ashland University's football team – if history is a guide – may lead to a very memorable 2015 season.

The Eagles have won each of their first five games, all in the GLIAC, so far this season. A look at the seasons when AU has won at least its first five games shows the winning usually continued into the second half:






At least 5




11-1 record, GLIAC title, NCAA postseason



9-2 record



11-0 record



8-2 record



8-0-1 record



7-0 record, Mid-Ohio Athletic Conference title


"We say the same thing every week. Every game is a different challenge, a different battle, a different set of circumstances, a different adversity," Owens said. "But every time, they've stepped up to the challenge. There's always been storyline that our guys have been challenged with. Every week, they've met the challenge.

"We've got to play like every game's a championship game. We may have to go undefeated. If we want to be conference champs, we may have to win them all. So we have to play them all like the championship's on the line, and they get that. We've found a way to be great every week, and we have to continue to do that."


Comparing Recent Rushing Trifectas

Settlemire missed the Eagles' Week 2 game at Walsh due to injury. He hasn't missed much since.

In the last three games at home against Ohio Dominican and Findlay and at Malone, Settlemire has had 152, 210 and 150 rushing yards, respectively. Cumulatively, his last three games total 83 carries, 512 yards, a 6.2-yard average and five touchdowns.

Settlemire's last three games compare favorably to a three-game run put together by Taylor just two years ago:









Oct. 5-19, 2013






Sept. 19-Oct. 3, 2015






Settlemire leads the GLIAC in rushing yards per game (139.3) and all-purpose yards per contest (167.3), and is tied for first in carries (89). Despite that, Owens isn't changing his thought process of trying to cut back on Settlemire's workload.

"He didn't want to come out," Owens said of the Malone game. "It never seemed like I really had to put my foot down and say, 'You're out. Next guy in.' I'm setting a rotation this week. I have to commit to it. That doesn't mean I won't have a change of heart if things go crazy. I will have a set rotation in place."


Irby Leads Eagle Pass Thieves

After showing flashes of what could be to come as a freshman, mostly on special teams, Irby quickly is becoming one of the top defensive backs in the GLIAC.

Irby recorded two interceptions in Ashland's win at Malone, and has all three of his 2015 picks - which are tied for the conference lead - in the last two games. Irby became the first Eagle to have multiple interceptions in a game since former safety Eric Schwieterman in the 2013 season finale.

AU has eight interceptions this season, the same amount it had in all of 2014. Irby's three thefts in a season are the most for a single Eagle defender since Schwieterman's four in 2013.

"He's so talented. He really is. He's so skilled," Owens said. "He's so much fun to be around. He has so much fun out there."


NCAA Rankings

As the wins keep piling up, the Eagles more and more find themselves near the top in the team and individual rankings in Division II.

Ashland ranks third in the country in net punting average (40.4), tied for 12th in fewest penalties (25), 14th in kickoff-return average (25.7) and 19th in team passing efficiency (160.1).

Individually, junior punter-backup quarterback Austin Bruns is second in the nation in gross punting average (45.7), Irby is 13th in kickoff-return average (30.4) and tied for 16th in interceptions, Settlemire is tied for 10th in rushing yards per game and 19th in all-purpose yards per game and Tarnowski is 15th in yards per pass attempt (8.83), tied for 17th in touchdown passes (13) and tied for 18th in passing efficiency (158.7).


GLIAC Rankings

Ashland is first in the conference in kickoff-return average, gross punting average and interceptions, tied for first in touchdowns (27), second in sacks (15), third in points per game (39.2) and fourth in rushing yards per game (218.2) and rushing yards allowed per game (134.8).

The following are Eagles who are in the top three in various individual conference categories this week:






Vance Settlemire

Rushing yards/game



Vance Settlemire

All purpose yards/game



Austin Bruns

Gross punting average



Dale Irby




Dale Irby

Kickoff-return average



Travis Tarnowski

Passing touchdowns



James Ester

Pass breakups



Adam Shaheen




Daivon Barrow





Eagles Stay On Three Top 25 Lists

A spotless first half of the 2015 college football season has Ashland University moving up the national rankings.

In the latest American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Division II Coaches' Top 25 poll, released on Monday, Oct. 5, the 5-0 Eagles are in the No. 9 spot heading into the second half of the regular season. This is the highest spot AU has claimed since ending the 2012 season at No. 9 in the country.

Ashland is one of four GLIAC schools in the poll, along with Ferris State (No. 4), Michigan Tech (No. 14) and Grand Valley State (No. 24).

Also this week, the Eagles are No. 14 in the poll, and are No. 15 in the HERO Sports poll.


Eagle Nuggets

- Ashland is one of 17 undefeated teams in Division II.

- Tarnowski is ninth all-time at Ashland with 3,429 passing yards and seventh with 29 touchdown passes.

- The Eagles are 8-3 in their last 11 road games.