No. 5 Eagles Use The New And The Rare To Top Warriors

No. 5 Eagles Use The New And The Rare To Top Warriors


THE TURNING POINTS: A fumble recovery by Ashland junior cornerback Dale Irby to start the third quarter led to the Eagles taking a 13-12 lead, then Irby intercepted a two-point conversion and turned it into two points for AU and a 22-18 lead later in the third.

STAT OF THE GAME: Backup tailbacks Keishaun Sims (102) and Andrew Vaughn (100) became the first Eagle tandem to rush for 100 yards in the same game since Anthony Taylor (130) and Vance Settlemire (121) at Findlay on Sept. 27, 2014.

After waiting an extra half-hour and falling behind 12-0 in the first quarter, the No. 5-ranked Ashland University football team used new things and rare things for a come-from-behind victory on Saturday (Sept. 10) night at Jack Miller Stadium/Martinelli Field.

The Eagles, after sitting out a 30-minute weather-related delay, scored 30 second-half points en route to a 36-25 win over Wayne State on Saturday night. AU is 2-0 overall and 1-0 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, while the Warriors are 1-1, 1-1.

"It was a tough start," said Ashland head coach Lee Owens. "We sat in the locker room for a long time with the delay. You get all geeked up and ready to play and, all of a sudden, you have to reset your clock, and I don't think we did a good job of that.

"There seemed to be no panic or any question about being able to come back and win the game."

One of the new sights Eagle fans saw Saturday night was a first-time 100-yard rushing tandem. Seeing the bulk of the action in the AU backfield for the injured Vance Settlemire, freshman Keishaun Sims (10 carries, 102 yards, two touchdowns) and sophomore Andrew Vaughn (19 carries, 100 yards) each earned their first collegiate century mark.

Sims, the 2015 Ohio High School Mr. Football, saw more time in the backfield in game No. 2 than in game No. 1, and he produced.

"In Game 1, it was mind-blowing, everything is racing in my head. It was quick," Sims said. "I got the feel for it (tonight)."

The positive rare feats for Ashland came in the third quarter – both courtesy of junior cornerback Dale Irby. His fumble recovery on the opening kickoff of the period, the second of his Eagle career, set up Sims' one-yard touchdown run to give AU a 13-12 lead. Then, with 6:26 left in the third, and the Warriors looking for the tying two-point conversion, Irby picks off the pass and returns it the length of the field for a defensive PAT and a 22-18 advantage.

After that, a Sims four-yard scoring run and a six-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Travis Tarnowski to sophomore wide receiver Matthew Wilcox kept the Warriors at arm's length.

Tarnowski was 20-for-32 for 305 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. It was his sixth career 300-yard passing game. Wilcox caught three passes for 108 yards and a score in his second 100-yard receiving game.

Ashland's top defensive effort, aside from Irby's big night, came from senior whip Daivon Barrow, who posted seven total tackles, a sack and three tackles for loss. That was fitting on a night when 2016 College Football Hall of Famer and former Ashland University All-American defensive end Bill Royce was honored prior to the game and at halftime.

"We told the guys (at halftime) about, listen, we're dedicating this game to a guy going into the Hall of Fame," Owens said. "We're not going to have this shot again. We can't mess this up. We wouldn't be here today, having the success we have today, if not for those guys, and Bill represents that."

UP NEXT: Sept. 17, 7 p.m. against Findlay (1-1, 1-1) at Jack Miller Stadium/Martinelli Field.