AU Eagles win GMAC title with 41-10 win over Panthers

The Eagles dominated the Panthers in route to securing the conference title


Brynn Meisse

Martin finished the season with over 1000 rushing yards and nine touchdowns. He dashed for 120+ in the win over Kentucky Wesleyan.

Cade Cracas, Sports & Digital Editor

The Ashland University football team has finished the season as the No. 1 team in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference and the No. 13 team in the nation, with momentum heading into the NCAA Division II postseason tournament.

The Eagles came into their Saturday contest against the Panthers with the postseason on their mind. A win against the Panthers and a Tiffin Dragon loss to the Findlay Oilers would give the Eagles sole possession of No. 1 in the conference.

Fortunately for the Eagles, those two things would happen.

In the first quarter of play, the Eagles struck quickly utilizing both the rushing and passing attack to march down the field and punch in a score.

Starting quarterback Austin Brenner found tight end Nabil Abdus-Salaam for a four-yard score contested by two defenders.

That opening score was crucial for the Eagles’ momentum moving forward.

On the previous possession, however, the Panthers marched down the field and freshman kicker Blake Vivrette drilled a 42-yard field goal to bring the game within three.

That would be the only score the Panthers put on the board in the first half of play.

To open the second quarter the Eagles saw Larry Martin dash for a big gain of 40 yards to set the offense up in excellent field position. With the ball just a few yards out from the endzone Brenner dropped back and delivered an 11-yard strike to Logan Bolin for his first touchdown of the contest.

The following possession for the Panthers was crucial to bring this game back within grabbing distance, but the Eagle defense held strong forcing a three-and-out.

Now with the ball back, the continued explosion of the Eagle offense proved to shift the game’s momentum heavily. Brenner would once again find Bolin in the back of the endzone from one yard out for Bolin’s second touchdown of the game.

The weather conditions continued to become more brutal as the contest continued with 15-mile-per-hour winds and snowy skies.

The Eagles would head into halftime up 21-3.

Eagle Head Coach Lee Owens was impressed with how well the team played and adapted to the snowy weather.

“These boys are used to playing in weather like this,” said Owens.

Coming out of halftime, nothing went the Panthers way as on the opening possession quarterback Christian Arrambide looked downfield and threw a pass behind his receiver with senior safety Jourdan Swett picking the ball off. He returned the ball roughly 30 yards to set up the next score for the Eagles.

Brenner would find wideout Garrett Turnbaugh from roughly 24 yards out in the back left corner of the endzone for a score. Turnbaugh was able to get a nice toe tap with defenders closing him out to make the score 28-3.

Just a few possessions later in the third quarter Turnbaugh would grab another score after Brenner found him once again from one yard out making the score 35-3.

Finally, after 28 straight points, the following possession would see the Panthers getting back on the board.

Arrambide would deliver two massive 20-yard strikes to wideout Peyton Peters, one of them finding the endzone to close the gap to 25 points with just a few minutes remaining in the third quarter.

As the third came to a close the Eagles gave Brenner a much-deserved rest after slinging the rock for five touchdowns. Head Coach Lee Owens decided to give backup quarterback Trevor Bycznski an opportunity to play the remaining time.

He would finish the contest with just six yards passing on three attempts.

When the fourth quarter came underway the Eagles decided to give other underclassmen the opportunity to showcase their talents. Tailback Noah Martens, Brier Marthey, Garrett Niss and countless others got opportunities to get involved in the action.

The final score of the game, coming with 15 seconds left, came from Niss who dove into the endzone from two yards out.

The game would end with the scoreline sitting at 41-10 in favor of the Eagles. With the win, the Eagles finished the season 9-1 overall and 7-1 in conference play.

Brenner finished the game with 112 yards and five touchdowns, running back Larry Martin would finish with 135 rushing yards and wideouts Turnbaugh and Bolin finished with two touchdowns a piece.

On the defensive side of things, Swett finished with one interception and three tackles. A handful of Eagles recorded tackles and sacks with linebacker Jackson recording four tackles and one sack.

They now look to the NCAA Division II postseason tournament with the schedule and selections set to be released in the coming days.