Undefeated Eagles’ Defense Also Stepping To The Fore

Undefeated Eagles’ Defense Also Stepping To The Fore

Yes, Ashland University's football team puts up big numbers on offense on a weekly basis.

The Eagle defense, however, has more than played its part during the team's undefeated regular season.

Ashland, ranked No. 5 in Division II, has finished the regular year at 10-0 overall and in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. It has won the GLIAC South Division outright, and has clinched at least a share of the conference's overall championship and will qualify for the NCAA Division II postseason for the sixth time.

AU's defense has kept up its end of the bargain, leading the GLIAC in interceptions with 15, ranking second in the conference in points allowed per game at 22.8, placing third in the league in rushing yards allowed per contest at 127.5 and currently standing fourth in the GLIAC in total defense at 358.8 yards per game.

Junior inside linebacker Brandon Gency is fifth in the conference in total tackles (90), senior rover Donzale Ashley and sophomore cornerback Dale Irby are tied for fourth in the league with three interceptions each and both Irby (nine, tied for second) and senior cornerback James Ester (eight, tied for fifth) are among league leaders in pass breakups.

The Eagles' 15 interceptions are their most in a season since 2011 (15).


Tarnowski Keeps Spreading The Wealth Around

Sophomore quarterback Travis Tarnowski has enjoyed having fellow sophomore Adam Shaheen for a main pass target, as the tight end has caught 62 passes for 709 yards and 10 touchdowns.

But Tarnowski simply likes finding the open receiver. He completed passes to 10 different players in the first half alone in Ashland's 40-14 home win over Michigan Tech on Saturday (Nov. 9).

In 10 regular-season games, seven players have caught at least 14 passes – Shaheen, junior wide receiver Jamie Hence (32), junior tailback Vance Settlemire (27), sophomore wide receivers Stewart Turner (22), Terrance Burt (20) and Maxwell Shawver (14) and freshman wideout Matthew Wilcox (18).

Ashland hasn't seen that type of receiving distribution throughout a season since the last postseason year of 2012, when seven Eagles caught at least 17 passes.


AU's Home Dominance Continues

The Eagles have won 12 consecutive games at Jack Miller Stadium/Martinelli Field – a new program standard for most home victories in a row.

Against the Huskies, AU led for 53:21 of a possible 60 minutes. In five home wins in 2015, the shortest amount of time the Eagles had the lead was 50:30 against Findlay.