AU football looks to take on Ohio Dominican at home

Eagles prepare with starting quarterback in limbo


Wesley Seyfang

Star linebacker Michael Ayers looks to continue making a case for GMAC DPOTY in 2022.

Cade Cracas, Sports & Digital Editor

The Ashland University football team has had an impressive 2022 fall campaign sitting at a record of 5-0 and ranked as the No. 6 team in Division II.

With three conference victories under their belt, the Eagles look to Saturday, Oct. 15, where they take on the Ohio Dominican Panthers at Jack Miller Stadium.

The Eagles have been led by a stellar running back room and a defense led by former Great Midwest Athletic Conference Defensive Player of the Year Michael Ayers.

For starters, the running backs for the Eagles have not taken a step back since the first whistle blew against the Notre Dame College Falcons in Week One rushing for over 1,100 rushing yards through five games.

In the last contest against the Walsh Cavaliers, they saw running back Larry Martin rush for 79 yards to go alongside a touchdown. Counterpart Gei’Vonni Washington took off for 69 yards on just eight carries.

While the running attack has been outstanding, the passing game has also found its rhythm as the season has progressed.

Through just the first quarter of play against Walsh starting quarterback Austin Brenner passed for 82 yards and two touchdowns in the win before going down with a lower-body injury. On the season he’s passed for 913 yards, eight touchdowns and four interceptions.

After Brenner went down, backup quarterback Trevor Bycznski got playing time and struggled to find chemistry with his wideouts.

Through 22 attempts he completed just eight and had a handful of drops from his targeted teammates. He finished the game with just 67 yards passing.

“The big thing I’ve challenged him with is if your getting one rep, two reps, whatever reps you get. You have to prepare like you are the starter,” said Head Coach Lee Owens. “You never know when you are going to have to play.”

With the starting quarterback for Saturday’s contest being unknown, the Eagles will look to their depth for continued support.

While the offense has been great, the defense has been nationally ranked in multiple categories.

Currently, they sit at No. 16 in the nation in rushing defense and No. 3 in opponent passing efficiency. Those categories have led to the Eagle defense allowing just 9.60 points per game.

The Eagles are led by linebacker Michael Ayers with 36 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks and three forced fumbles.

“The defense has had a great plan from Coach Rose. The players buying into it,” said Owens. “Great players like Michael Ayers. Somehow we have a player as good as him. Maybe 0ne of the best players in Division II defensively. That’s how you get great on defense.

Alongside Ayers, safety Jourdan Swett and defensive end Deeb Alawan have been stellar as well. Swett currently has 26 tackles and two interceptions while Alawan’s grabbed himself 11 tackles, five sacks and two forced fumbles.

Even though the Eagles have been sound in every facet of their game, the Panthers have had their fair share of success this season.

They sit at a record of 4-2 overall and 3-1 in conference play.

As a whole, their offense has produced well with starting quarterback Jake Byrd slinging 1700 passing yards, 14 touchdowns and just four interceptions. He currently leads the GMAC in passing yards, touchdowns and yards per contest. He sits at second in the GMAC in passing percentage with 64.1 percent.

The offense has gotten 13 total players involved in the passing game with one specific wideout standing out.

Wideout Andrew Wolf leads the team in receiving yards with 461 yards and six touchdowns on just 34 receptions.

With such a strong passing attack and a decent running attack posting 600 yards on the season, the team has averaged 28 points per contest.

The only major issue that stands out is their defense which has allowed 25 points per contest and 387 yards per game.

With two impressive and highly talented conference teams going toe to toe this Saturday at 7 p.m., the Eagles will look to extend their win streak to six while the Panthers look to upset the No. 6 team in the nation.

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Directions: Jack Miller Stadium/Martinelli Field/Robert Troop CenterĀ – 800 Broad Street | Ashland, Ohio 44805