Eagles finish regular season defeating Wildcats 31-10


Hannah Witteman

#7 senior wide receiver Wes Wenning and #88 redshirt junior tight end Michael Schweitzer embrace on Senior Day

Dean Paolucci, Reporter

The Ashland University football team concluded the 2019 season with a 31-10 victory against the Northern Michigan University Wildcats on Saturday afternoon at Jack Miller Stadium.

The win against the Wildcats came on Senior Day, honoring the 16 seniors who would wear purple and gold for the final time in their careers.

The Wildcats were able to score first and early off of a 19-yard field goal by sophomore kicker Daniel Riser with 8:30 remaining in the first quarter to put Northern Michigan up 3-0. The field goal was set up by an interception by sophomore linebacker Jack Reiger of Northern Michigan on the first Eagle drive of the game.

The Eagles were able to get an interception of their own in the first quarter by senior safety Cedric Frierson, the first of his collegiate career.

Later in the second quarter, a fumble recovery by redshirt freshman Jourdan Swett gave the Eagles the football back. The Eagles then followed up with a 61-yard touchdown drive which was capped off by junior fullback Austin Williams scoring on a one-yard touchdown run, putting the Eagles up 7-3 in the second quarter.

On the next defensive play, the Eagles came away with another turnover via a second interception from Frierson.

The Eagles then put together another touchdown drive with 6:41 left in the first half, leaving AU up 14-3. Freshman running back Jeffrey Barnett scored on a three-yard touchdown and gave the Eagles an 11-point advantage.

Northern Michigan did not go away, scoring on the next drive by a 34-yard rushing touchdown by sophomore quarterback Keshawn Howard with five minutes left in the first half. The score cut the Eagle lead to 14-10 going into halftime.

Following halftime, the Eagles drove down the field and were able to make a 37-yard field goal by junior kicker Satchel Denton, giving AU a 17-10 lead.

Northern Michigan drove down the field on the very next drive, yet were unable to get any points as a 27-yard Riser field goal was blocked by Ashland senior defensive end Tristan Reichelderfer with over one minute remaining in the third quarter.

Ashland was able to capitalize off of the blocked field goal with Barnett scoring on a four-yard rushing touchdown, his second of the afternoon. The Barnett touchdown gave the Eagles a 24-10 lead early in the fourth quarter.

The Ashland defense forced a punt in the next defensive drive, giving Ashland the ball back with over 11 minutes remaining in the game.

The Eagles drove down the field for a 74-yard scoring drive, which was capped off by a third rushing touchdown from two-yards away by Jeffrey Barnett. This gave AU a commanding 31-10 lead and the victory.

The Eagles now end the regular season with a total record of 7-4 with a 6-2 record against GLIAC opponents, giving Ashland a third place finish in the conference.

The win marked the final home and regular season game for 16 seniors on the AU football team, something Ashland head coach Lee Owens knew was important.

“It was all about our senior group. I knew they would show up today,” Owens said following the victory. “They had a great run and I was pleased to see it end the way it did.”

“It feels good to know older guys can count on you,” freshman Gei’vonni Washington said when asked about the relationship with the senior players. “[The seniors] were good role models for me and keeping me in my place.”

The Eagles put up 419 yards of total offense, 275 of which were from rushing attempts. Washington ran for 139 yards on 31 rushing attempts alongside fellow freshman running back Jeffrey Barnett who ran for 64 yards and three touchdowns.

The Eagles defense also shined, forcing three turnovers by the Wildcats in the first half. Senior safety Cedric Frierson ended the game with two interceptions, the first two of his career and coming on Senior Day.

“I wasn’t really expecting it to happen,” Frierson said. “I just wanted to go out and perform to my best. When the opportunity presented itself, it was amazing and my teammates just made it feel even better.”

For Northern Michigan, the Wildcats offense was led by sophomore quarterback Keshawn Howards who ran for 87 yards and the only touchdown of the afternoon for the Wildcats.

The AU football team will now look forward to the 2020 regular season, a season that will mark the 100th total year of Ashland football.