Eagle Opponents Can’t Take Fourth Down For Granted

Eagle Opponents Can’t Take Fourth Down For Granted


Football coaches talk about "three-down players" – running backs or linebackers who can stay on the field from first down to third down and excel.

Ashland University's offense has been a four-down offense for many years – excelling at fourth-down conversion rate and ranking among the best in NCAA Division II time and time again.

So far in 2017, the Eagles are 4-for-5 (80 percent) on fourth down, putting them in a tie for 14th in the country in the early going. In 2016, Ashland's 82.4-percent conversion rate on fourth down was second in D-II only to Southeastern Oklahoma (91.7).

Just four years ago, in 2013, the Eagles were tied for 11th in the nation at 63.2 percent.

"You can go back five or six years, they have been over the top, the fourth-down conversion rate," Ashland head coach Lee Owens said, "and a lot of that has to do with our offense staying on the field. We can look and see what they're giving us, and we'll take what they're giving us. It's not like we're scheming up fake punts. We're running our plays."

In Owens' 14 seasons at Ashland, the team's leading punter has been one of its quarterbacks in nine of them.


Honoring The 1997 Playoff Eagles

During the 20-minute halftime at Ashland's home game on Saturday (Sept. 23) at 7 p.m. vs. No. 2 Ferris State, the 1997 Division II playoff team will be honored.

Ashland's second playoff team which finished at 9-2, the squad reeled off seven straight wins to end the regular season and won the Midwest Intercollegiate Football Conference championship. Included in that winning streak was a memorable 27-20 Homecoming win over Saginaw Valley State at Community Stadium. The Eagles finished that season ranked No. 12 in Division II.

Kicker Tim Seder later would play in both the National Football League (2000-02, Dallas Cowboys and Jacksonville Jaguars) and the Arena Football League (2005-06, Philadelphia Soul and Kansas City Brigade).

The following is a list of members of the 1997 team who are scheduled to be at the game on Saturday night:


Scott Bayless

Offensive Lineman

Michael Byrd

Offensive Lineman

Edward Carnes

Defensive End

David Catanese


James D'Amico

Offensive Lineman

Craig Dobransky

Defensive Back

Ed Feil

Defensive Back

Chris Fichtner

Defensive Back

Mark Friedman

Running Back

Dan Fuller

Assistant Coach

Brett Gockstetter


Ali Grose

Defensive Back

Matthew "Bubba" Harris


Andrew Keck

Defensive Lineman

Dirk Lincicome


Gary Keller

Head Coach

Brent Martz

Tight End

Mark Molk


Tavis Powers

Defensive Back

John Priestas

Offensive Lineman

Bill Reagan

Assistant Coach

Tom Riggs


Chris Royer

Defensive End

Delano Smith

Defensive Back

Ken Stewart

Athletic Trainer

Rob Szygenda

Place Kicker

Byron Varnado

Offensive Lineman

Carl White

Assistant Coach

Eugene White

Wide Receiver

Jason Ziegler

Offensive Lineman


Sizing Up The Five-TD-Pass Club

Ashland quarterbacks have thrown for five touchdowns in a game six times. Redshirt senior quarterback Travis Tarnowski has accounted for three of those:





Travis Tarnowski

at Northwood


Travis Tarnowski



Travis Tarnowski



Taylor Housewright

at Findlay


Billy Cundiff

at Michigan Tech


Billy Cundiff




Ashland's Active Division II Career Leaders

Entering Week 4, Ashland's players among Division II active career leaders include:

- Tarnowski first in passing yards (9,196), touchdown passes (90) and yards per pass attempt (8.48)

- Tarnowski second in total offense yards (9,483)

- Senior kicker Aidan Simenc third in field-goal percentage (85.3)

- Tarnowski fifth in passing efficiency (157.15)

- Simenc sixth in career extra points (137)

- Tarnowski seventh in completion percentage (62.5)


Week 3 For Meder, Shaheen On Tap

Ashland's two active National Football League players – former Eagle All-Americans Jamie Meder and Adam Shaheen – will be back on the field on Sunday (Sept. 24) in Week 3 action.

Meder, a defensive tackle, and the Cleveland Browns (0-2) will play Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Indianapolis Colts (0-2). At the same time, Shaheen, a tight end, and the Chicago Bears (0-2) will play at Soldier Field against the Pittsburgh Steelers (2-0).