Eagles Prepare for the GLIAC Battle of Ohio

Zach Read, MANAGING EDITOR OF THE COLLEGIAN

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The Ashland University football team goes back on the road this week to battle Tiffin in one of the games deemed the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference “Showdown Saturday” that features the top four teams in the conference facing off against each other.

The Eagles (6-1, 5-0 GLIAC) are coming off a dominating 48-0 homecoming shutout win against Michigan Tech on Saturday. The win marked the 20th straight home win for Ashland who currently holds the longest streak for that category in the GLIAC.

“Saturday was perfect in more than just a defensive way. The weather was perfect, the crowd was great, the fans the community, the student body,” head coach Lee Owens said. “I don’t know if it gets any better than that on a Saturday afternoon.”

Getting the job done for the Eagles once again was the defense which has only allowed 16 points in the last four games while pitching two shutouts in that stretch.

On Saturday, the defense held Michigan Tech to 166 yards of total offense while forcing five turnovers, four of which came on interceptions.

Another threat on this Ashland team that got the job done on Saturday was senior quarterback Travis Tarnowski. He became the the first Ashland player to reach 10,000 career passing yards and 100 career touchdowns while also being named the GLIAC Offensive Player of the Week.

“That’s what separates him, he competes and wants to be perfect. He is never satisfied, if he makes one mistake he is upset with himself,” Owens said.

Tarnowski threw for five touchdowns and 233 passing yards while his favorite target on the field on Saturday was junior wide receiver Kamaron Green. Green was on the receiving end of three of those passing touchdowns with having four total receptions that totaled to 97 yards.

After having the luxury of playing against the home crowd at Jack and Deb Miller stadium, the Eagles have yet another tough road matchup against a Tiffin team that is tied for second in the GLIAC. Tiffin is coming off of a 35-24 win against Northern Michigan this past Saturday.

The Dragons (5-2, 4-1 GLIAC) are one of the two teams who spoiled the Eagles season last year at Frost-Kalnow Stadium that kept them from getting into the playoffs by defeating Ashland 35-32.

“We didn’t play well there last year, we didn’t coach well there. They had a great game plan, and their players played real hard, and they beat us, simple as that,” Owens said.

This week, the Eagles are preparing for their fifth road matchup of the season against a well balanced offense and a defense that shows different looks.

The Dragons offense is led by redshirt freshman quarterback Nick Watson who has completed 59.3-percent of his passes for 1,435 yards and nine touchdowns this season.

The Tiffin wide receiver corps is led by seniors Tony Shead Jr. (24 catches, 307 yards, 3 touchdowns) and Charles Holland (20 catches, 284 yards, 3 TDs).

“It’s a tough match for our defense, it’s something we haven’t seen,” Owens said. “It’s a whole different plan for our defense than what we have seen in the last two weeks.”

The other part of their balanced offense in the rushing game is led by sophomore running back Jaquan Hardy who has a total of 696 yards and five touchdowns on the season.

The other side of the ball for the Dragons is led by sophomore linebacker Brandon Burks, who has 61 total tackles, 10 ½ for loss, and 4 ½ sacks on the season.

Tiffin’s defense comes into this matchup leading the GLIAC with 20 sacks and is second in the conference in pass defense (145.6 ypg).

“Their defense gives us some different looks that we don’t see from anybody else, they’re more like us,” Owens said.

Ashland moved up three spots this week to No. 13 in the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Division II Top 25 Poll as they look to continue their strong season at Tiffin.

Owens said that the team is excited to go back to Tiffin and avenge the loss from last year.

The GLIAC “Battle of Ohio” will start at 1 p.m. at Frost-Kalnow Stadium in Tiffin, Ohio.

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