Eagles fall to Lakers on last second field goal



Eagles quarterback Billy Bahl sets at the line during a snap against Grand Valley.

Steve Shrenkel, Reporter

The Ashland University football team fell to No. 9 ranked Grand Valley State as the Lakers kicked a last second field goal with 15 seconds remaining in the game to secure a 20-17 win on Saturday (Nov. 3) night at Lubbers Stadium.

The Eagles are 5-4 overall and 5-2 in the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference. They have now fallen to third in the conference. The Lakers improved to 9-1 and 6-1 in the GLIAC where they stand at second place.

Ashland’s offense out paced Grand Valley State by a 410-298 margin, but the Eagles were not able to capitalize on multiple trips to the red zone, leaving points on the board. The Lakers defense allowed just 17 points per game entering the contest.

On the Eagles second possession of the game, the team drove down to the 8-yard line, before senior quarterback Billy Bahl was intercepted by Jacob Studdard and returned to AU’s 19-yard line.

This set up the Lakers and running back Jake Provencher to score a touchdown three plays later to take an early 7-0 lead with 4:16 left to go in the first quarter.

AU’s next drive was a methodical one as it took 9 minutes and 12 seconds off the clock as the Eagles drove all the way down to the 11-yard line. A false start and delay of game, however, pushed Ashland back to the 21-yard line and Eagles kicker Satchel Denton managed to nail a 31-yard field goal to cut the deficit to 7-3.

GVSU’s next possession was the complete opposite of Ashland’s as running back Chawntez Moss scored a 73-yard touchdown on the first play from scrimmage to give the Lakers a 14-3 lead with 8:54 left to go in the second quarter. This was the largest play given up by the Eagles defense this season.

On the Eagles next possession, an 18-yard catch by redshirt-junior Stanley Jackson Jr. and a 17-yard run by senior Andrew Vaughn led to a career-long 43-yard field goal by Denton to make the game 14-6 heading into halftime.

The Eagles held the time of possession advantage in the first half as they held the ball for 20 minutes and 38 seconds and out-gained the Lakers 196-116.

Ashland’s offense kicked off the second half with a 13 play and 69 yard drive, but the Eagles were stalled at the GVSU 11-yard line after a 28-yard field goal from Denton was missed wide right.

After the Eagles “D” forced a punt, AU was finally able to convert in the red zone with a 29-yard pass over the middle from Bahl to redshirt-sophomore receiver Logan Bolin to cap off an 87-yard drive. Bahl then connected with redshirt-sophomore tight end Austin Phillips for a two-point conversion to tie the game at 14 with 14:52 left to go in the game.

Grand Valley responded right back with their longest drive of the game, going 61 yards, before kicker J.J. McGrath hit a 24-yard field goal to give the Lakers a 17-14 lead.

Ashland’s next drive almost stalled but was kept alive by Bahl as he escaped pressure on third down and connected with Phillips on a 24-yard pass to move the ball to the GVSU 30-yard line. AU got into the red zone, but was only able to tie the game at 17 with a 39-yard field goal by Denton with 5:02 left to go in the game.

The Lakers were able to move the ball on their last drive as quarterback Bart Williams found receiver Brandon Wadley on a 29-yard pass to the AU 21-yard line. Grand Valley then ran the clock down to 15 seconds before McGrath hit the game winning 23-yard field goal.

The Eagles attempted to desperately get something going from the 28-yard line but the attempts fell short for the Lakers to seal the win.

Bahl finished the game throwing 21-for-37 with 285 yards to go along with one touchdown and an interception.

Senior wide receiver Kamaron Green led the Eagles receiving corps with six catches on the night for 99 yards. Bolin fell right behind him with four receptions for 91 yards.

Vaughn led all running backs with 26 carries for 106 yards. He also had six receptions for 40 yards.

Ashland’s defense limited Williams to just 9-for-17 throwing for 132 yards. Junior linebacker Clay Shreve and junior safety Nick Powers led the Eagles with six tackles apiece. Redshirt-freshman whip Michael Ayers also chipped in five tackles and a sack.

The Eagles will finish out the regular season back home at Jack Miller Stadium/Martinelli Field next Saturday (Nov. 10) as they take on the Northern Michigan Wildcats at 1 p.m.