In what turned out to be a wild 96th Homecoming game for Ashland University's football team on Saturday (Oct. 12) afternoon, the Eagles outlasted Davenport, 30-27 – in a contest which featured 57 points, 890 yards of offense and three 75-plus-yard touchdown passes.
Ashland improves to 4-2 overall and 3-1 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, while the Panthers are 3-2, 1-2.
This is the third consecutive week in which Ashland rallied to win a game in which it trailed by at least 10 points at any juncture of the game.
"I think there was a little bit of a Grand Valley hangover early," said Ashland head coach Lee Owens of coming back after the Hail Mary-led win at the Lakers the week prior. "We did the best we could to put it away.
"There will be a time when we need to play on offense and win games. We were pretty efficient offensively, against a pretty good defensive team. It was a dog fight to the very end."
THE MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
- After a scoreless first 21 minutes, there was an explosion of offense for the remainder of the first half – starting with Davenport's two-yard touchdown run from Wildcat formation by wide receiver Keion Powers.
- The Panthers missed the extra point, but then increased their advantage to 13-0 on quarterback Deondre Ford's 99-yard touchdown strike to wide receiver Ulice Gillard – the second-longest scoring play ever allowed by the Eagles (record is a 100-yard interception return score by Northwood's Todd Miller in 1987).
- Ashland didn't take long to counter for its first score. Twenty-one seconds after Davenport's second touchdown, the Eagles scored on a 75-yard TD pass from sophomore quarterback Austin Brenner to junior wide receiver Logan Bolin.
- Following a fumble recovery by junior inside linebacker Ryan Corkrean, the Eagles needed just three plays and 74 yards to take the lead. Freshman tailback Gei'vonni Washington raced 35 yards for the go-ahead score at 16-13 with 11:09 to play in the third quarter.
- Washington scored his second rushing touchdown of the third period on a four-yard dash, increasing the Eagles' advantage to 23-13 with 5:10 showing on the clock.
- Davenport went deep for its third touchdown early in the fourth quarter, as Ford and wide receiver Marquian Johnson connected for a 92-yard scoring pass, cutting the Panthers' deficit to 23-20 with 13:36 remaining on the regulation clock.
- Senior inside linebacker Clay Shreve's fumble recovery put the Eagles in prime scoring position at the Davenport 8, and it set up junior fullback Hunter Williams' two-yard plunge for a 30-20 AU lead with 5:22 to play.
- The back-and-forth continued deep into the fourth, as Ford hit Daronte Powers for a 21-yard touchdown score that cut the Ashland lead to 30-27 with 4:07 to go. Sophomore fullback Austin Williams, however, picked up the last key first down on a run in Panther territory to seal the victory.
"We're being more physical on offense," Owens said. "It's old-school. When you give it to the fullback to score or get a first down, it's Woody Hayes. And our guys don't know who Woody Hayes is. No one has a fullback anymore. You take Hunter Williams and 'Dub,' they are big, physical guys."
- Washington ran a career-high 31 times for 134 yards and two touchdowns, giving him 428 yards and six touchdowns on 88 carries during the three-game winning streak.
- Bolin caught five passes for a career-high 139 yards and a TD on Saturday – giving him 12 grabs for 315 yards and two TDs during the win streak.
- Brenner completed 12-of-18 passes for 206 yards and a touchdown, and punted five times for a 52.2-yard average and four boots staying inside the 20-yard line.
- Corkrean (10 total tackles, half-tackle for loss, one fumble recovery) and junior safety C.J. Towns (five total tackles, three for loss) led the Eagle defensive effort.
- In the first half, the two teams combined for 480 yards of offense – and 174 of those came on the two long scoring passes.
- Ashland is 66-25-5 all-time on Homecoming, including 10-1 at Jack Miller Stadium/Martinelli Field.
Back on the road to Michigan on Oct. 19 at 6 p.m. against Wayne State.