No. 5 Eagles Topple Oilers In Final Conference Meeting, 35-3

No. 5 Eagles Topple Oilers In Final Conference Meeting, 35-3


THE TURNING POINT: A Findlay fumble forced by senior inside linebacker Brandon Gency and recovered by junior defensive end Austin Utter set up Ashland's go-ahead touchdown late in the first half.

STAT OF THE GAME: The Eagles have allowed single-digit points for the second time in 2016. The last time Ashland surrendered less than 10 points at least twice in the first three games of a season was 1997.

If the goal for the fifth-ranked Ashland University football team was to give Findlay something to remember it by, then mission accomplished.

The Eagles didn't score their first points of the game until the second quarter for the second consecutive game, but posted 35 unanswered points in a 35-3 victory over the Oilers on Saturday (Sept. 17) night. Ashland leads the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference's South Division at 3-0 overall and 2-0 in the conference, while Findlay is 1-2, 1-2.

"We couldn't have had a worse start on offense," said Ashland head coach Lee Owens, whose team had a punt blocked and lost two fumbles in the first four drives of the game. "That's two weeks in a row. It's a real concern. We'll do ball security drills all week long. Good teams don't do that.

"It's a huge concern."

Saturday night's game was the final conference meeting between Ashland and Findlay, as the Oilers will begin play in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference in 2017.

As was the case in Week 1 against Mercyhurst, the win against Findlay was complete across the board.

Defensively, the Eagles kept the Oilers to three points and 262 yards of total offense, while forcing a turnover. Senior inside linebackers Brandon Gency (eight total tackles, two tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a pass breakup) and Zach Olszewski (eight total tackles, one tackle for loss) led the way, along with junior defensive end Austin Utter (four total tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery).

"We practiced guarding the pass during the week. They were trying to slow the ball game down," said Gency about an Oiler offense which ran 37 times and passed 19 on Saturday night after passing 90 times and rushing 88 in the first two games of 2016. "They kept running the ball.

"It was a great game. Our defense played great. We go into every game trying to get a shutout. To hold them to three points is definitely encouraging for our defense."

Offensively, junior quarterback Travis Tarnowski was 25-for-41 for 289 yards and three touchdowns, junior tight end Adam Shaheen grabbed seven passes for 90 yards and two scores and freshman tailback Keishaun Sims had his second straight 100-yard rushing game with 109 yards on 17 carries.

"Having a Keishaun Sims is a big deal," Owens said of the rookie who played in place of an injured Vance Settlemire. "He's a special back. That's good for him to have that kind of experience. We've been pretty fortunate that we've established some pretty good depth here."

Ashland's offense has racked up at least 500 yards in each of the first three games of 2016.

On special teams, junior kicker Aidan Simenc hit all five extra points and nailed three of his six kickoffs for touchbacks.

UP NEXT: Ashland will play its first road game since Oct. 24, 2015, when it travels to No. 6 Ferris State (3-0, 3-0) on Sept. 24 at 3:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast live nationally on American Sports Network.