Eagles back home looking to stay above .500

Ashland University football team in the Jack Miller Stadium


Ashland University football team in the Jack Miller Stadium

Zach Read

With almost all chances of postseason action out of reach for Ashland University football’s 2019 campaign, the Eagles will return home this Saturday to try and add “W’s” to their win column from here on out.

The Eagles (4-3, 3-2 GLIAC) are coming off a heartbreaking 42-41 double overtime loss at Wayne State this past weekend that essentially knocked them out of playoff contention.

“It’s kind of a shot in the gut because those postseason dreams become less a reality if not a reality at all,” AU football head coach Lee Owens said.

The Eagles rallied from a 35-7 deficit to send it into overtime and a series of special teams disasters ensued for both teams. In the first overtime the Warriors received the ball first but had their field goal blocked while Ashland missed their 33-yard field goal attempt that would have won the game.

In the second overtime the Eagles scored first but had the PAT blocked, which left the door wide open for Wayne State to win the game, which they took advantage of and succeeded.

As Owens and the Eagles regroup this week to be prepared for Michigan Tech to come into town, Owens said that the heroics of Wayne State would not have been possible without redshirt sophomore quarterback Austin Brenner.

“If you could just see his spirit and his will to win, being down 35-7, was remarkable,” Owens said. “It was inspiring to be around and coach, I was honored to be apart of it. What a heroic effort that they gave to get back into that football game, and it was Brenner who led it.”

Brenner was responsible for 491 out of 620 yards of offense for the Eagles going 22-39 in the air and carrying the ball 20 times. He also threw for three touchdowns but also had three interceptions, giving him 10 total on the season which leads the GLIAC in interceptions thrown.

Owens also mentioned that on the defensive side of the ball, the deep ball has been a problem for AU’s secondary that gives up an average of 238.3 passing yards per game, the most in the GLIAC.

“The deep ball, ever since we lost Nick, has been a concern and it has really changed the nature in which we play defense,” Owens said.

Every year injuries seem to plague the Eagles in some sort of way, and this season it has affected the secondary the most with injuries to junior corners Jacob Williams and Colton Paul and senior safety Nick Powers.

Michigan Tech is a team with a record of 4-2 and coming off of a strong road win beating Davenport 30-17 in Week 6. Owens said the Huskies are a team that have been accustomed to road games and traveling so much due to their geographic location.

Junior quarterback Will Ark is in his second year under center for the Huskies as he has 1,219 passing yards on the season to go along with eight touchdowns.

“They’re built a lot like us,” Owens said. “Their quarterback is similar, he makes plays with his legs, he extends plays.”

The Huskies are also known for their run defense who leads the GLIAC in rushing yards allowed with only giving up an average of 89.2 yards per game.

“They’re a really good run defensive team, they are one of the top statistical defensive teams in the league,” Owens said. “They tackle really well in space, they’re really well-coached and disciplined.”

Owens and the Eagles know that this Saturday will be another challenge for them, but he also knows the importance of taking care of the ball and finishing in the red zone, aspects of the game the Eagles have not been able to perfect in 2019.

All eyes will be on Ashland this Saturday as they host Michigan Tech at 1 p.m. at Jack Miller Stadium. Live coverage can be heard on 88.9 WRDL.