Eagles host 96th Homecoming game against Panthers

Eagles prepping for homecoming contest with Panthers

AU ATHLETICS

Eagles prepping for homecoming contest with Panthers

Zach Read, MANAGING EDITOR OF THE COLLEGIAN

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After an uncommon theme of suffering two losses early on in the season, the Ashland University football team has regained their confidence after their heroics at Grand Valley State a week ago to knock off the No. 9 Lakers, 20-17.

Heading into Week 6, the Eagles have some of their mojo back as they gear up for their next toughest game of the 2019 campaign as they will play host to Davenport on Saturday at 1 p.m. for the 96th annual Homecoming game.

The Eagles (3-2, 2-1 GLIAC) have now had to regain their focus for the week ahead knowing that they cannot be relaxed in their preparation for the Panthers (3-1, 1-1 GLIAC).

“It’s great to get back home,” AU head coach Lee Owens said. “We have to get our heads out of the clouds, get our feet back on the ground. It’s the first thing I talked about on Sunday.”

As the offense continues to try and gain confidence, junior wide receiver Logan Bolin leads the team with 313 receiving yards on 24 catches, with his only touchdown catch coming on the hail-mary against the Lakers.

“We’re still a young, evolving offense,” Owens said. “We’ve played two fourth quarters in five weeks, that’s all that we have really played on offense.”

Owens said that his team is like a boxer that always stays in the fight and has found ways to win games late. However, he realizes that there are a lot of missed opportunities that the offense needs to do a better job of capitalizing on.

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Austin Brenner has only completed 50.3% of his passes, partly due to a lot of dropped balls early on in the season. He has been able to make up some of that by rushing 44 times for 297 yards and three touchdowns, sitting at second on the team in total rushing yards behind freshman tailback Gei’vonni Washington.

In the last two fourth quarters, Washington averaged 7.7 yards per carry with four rushing touchdowns, which are far greater numbers than the other three quarters combined in the last two games.

“He looked as good up there in that game (Grand Valley) as any tailback we’ve ever had around here for awhile,” Owens said. “We now know we can run the football against anyone and our opponents have to be smart and respect our run game now.”

With Davenport fairly new to the GLIAC, this is only the third time these two teams have faced off against each other. The Eagles lead the series 2-0 after defeating the Panthers 38-0 in 2017 and 31-6 in 2018.

The Panthers are led by head coach Sparky McEwen who is in his third season with the Panthers, who are coming off of a 35-7 home loss against No. 2 Ferris State.

“Davenport’s a good, physical team and athletic team and we have a lot of respect for them,” Owens said. “They’ve gotten better and better every year.”

Sophomore kicker Chris Ahmed is perfect on kicks this season for the Panthers going 4-of-4 on field goals and 8-of-8 on extra points.

One thing Owens is focusing on this week is having the ability to run against Davenport’s defense, who was able to stop Northern Michigan’s run game earlier in the season but did not have as much luck with Ferris State’s run game.

Senior defensive linemen Robert Clanton leads the Panthers with 4.5 sacks to go along with 23 total tackles on the season.

Both teams will be ready to go for a decisive GLIAC game come Saturday as the Ashland University Eagles will play host to the Davenport Panthers for the 96th Homecoming game. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at Jack Miller Stadium and live coverage can be heard on 88.9 WRDL.

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