CANTON – In what ended up as its largest margin of victory over Walsh at Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium, #RV Ashland University's football team earned its first win of the 2019 season on Saturday (Sept. 14) afternoon, 34-12, over the Cavaliers.
The Eagles are 1-1, while Walsh is 0-2.
"We made strides. We got better," said Ashland head coach Lee Owens. "Walsh has a very good defensive football team, and they showed some signs offensively today of coming of age.
"Any time you come over here and get a win – it's always been a tough place for us to play. The last two times we've played them (here), it's gone down to the last play, last series."
Saturday's win also was Ashland's 499th victory all-time, and No. 500 could come as early as Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. at Jack Miller Stadium/Martinelli Field vs. No. 2 Ferris State.
THE MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
- Ashland kept Walsh to minus-4 yards on its first two possessions of the afternoon. On the Eagles' second drive, keyed by senior wide receiver Justin Davis' first career catch (27 yards), junior kicker Satchel Denton made a 31-yard field goal for a 3-0 AU lead.
- Thanks to sophomore whip Michael Ayers' first career interception late in the first quarter, yet another first – a touchdown scored by junior wide receiver Dakota Hobbs – put the Eagles on top 10-0. Hobbs, a transfer who played in Canton at Malone the last two seasons, scored on a nine-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Austin Brenner.
- Ashland's defense halted the Cavaliers on fourth-and-1 from the Eagle 48 early in the second quarter, then the AU offense drove down to collect on another Denton field goal, this one from 21 yards, for a 13-0 advantage.
- A Walsh interception set the Cavaliers offense up at the Ashland 5-yard line, and two plays later, quarterback Nick Gassman found tight end Dillon Smith for a 5-yard touchdown. A blocked extra point, however, kept the Eagle lead at 13-6.
- Brenner capped the Eagles' 20-point first half with a six-yard TD scramble up the middle. He was the game's leading rusher in the first 30 minutes with 59 yards.
- Starting with a short field at the Cavaliers' 31 following a short punt, Brenner and Hobbs finished off the scoring drive once again, this time with a three-yard scoring strike for a 27-6 lead with 5:52 to go in the third quarter.
"It felt good," Hobbs said. "We've seen some things on tape that we liked. For the most part, we knew we'd have to come in here and play a tough game and get some points on offense this week."
- On the first play of the fourth quarter, Gassman snuck in from a yard out, but another missed PAT left the Eagles' lead at 27-12. Walsh's next possession was stopped close to the red zone by junior safety Jason Harrison's first interception as an Eagle.
- Saturday's scoring was capped off by AU freshman tailback Larry Martin, who scored his initial collegiate major on a one-yard run with 65 ticks remaining on the clock.
- Brenner threw for 182 yards and two touchdowns, and was Ashland's leading rusher for 98 yards and another score.
- As a team, the Eagles rushed for 210 yards and gained 392 total yards.
- Conversely, Ashland kept Walsh to 1.4 yards per rushing attempt, and in two games this season, the Eagles' "D" is allowing 2.3 yards per rush try.
- Denton is 5-for-5 on field goals in 2019, and in his Eagle career, is 18-for-20 (90 percent).