Ashland downs Notre Dame, 20-13, in playoff opener

“Overrated”, “Lucky”, “Shouldn’t Host”


Wesley Seyfang

The Eagles saved the “receipts” and comments from those who doubted them.

Cade Cracas, Sports & Digital Editor

The Ashland University football team kept the “receipts” and did not disappoint as they downed the Notre Dame College Falcons, 20-13 in the opening round of the NCAA Division II Postseason Tournament.

The Eagles, who were wildly disrespected and underrated as they geared up to take on the Falcons, marched into the cold and windy Jack Miller Stadium with confidence.

In the first half of play, the Falcons would strike first with an interception off of Eagle quarterback Austin Brenner on third down. The Falcons, with excellent field position, knocked in a 28-yard field goal from kicker Cameron Shirkey

The Eagle offense would be shut out until the start of the second quarter as they turned over the ball on the following possession once more.

To start the second, freshman kicker A.J. Rhodes knocked through his own 28-yard field goal to tie the game at 3 a piece.

The next score would come from Brenner as he scrambled, hurdled a man and scored from five yards out.

The Eagles would head into halftime with a 10-3 lead after struggling to start the competition. Falcon quarterback Chriss Brimm recorded just four yards passing in the first half of play.

“To overcome those early turnovers and still have the lead at half you really have to feel good about that,” said Head Coach Lee Owens. “We have played some really good defense.”

In the second half, the Falcons, just like in the first half, would strike first. Shirkey would nail a 24-yard field goal to make the game 10-6.

On the following possession, wideout Garrett Turnbaugh hauled in a dime of a pass from Brenner in the back left corner of the endzone from 12 yards out. That touchdown would put the Eagles up 17-6.

As the third quarter came to a close Brimm would be hit hard by defensive end Deeb Alawan and exit the contest, thrusting backup quarterback Isaiah Murphy into the spotlight.

Murphy would immediately succeed, finding tight end C.J. Kiss for an eight-yard touchdown making the score 17-13.

As the fourth quarter began players started to go down quickly as the tensions continued to fly after Brimm exited the contest. The bad blood continued to exist between these two squads as the game continued.

With 9:21 remaining in the contest, Rhodes would slice a 44-yard field goal through the uprights to put the Eagles to 20 points. Now, it was time for the Falcons to rebound and get themselves back in the contest.

Unfortunately for the Falcons, they would be unable to regain control and ultimately fall 20-13.

On fourth down as the game came to a close, defensive end Jeffrey Barnett forced a turnover on downs. The Eagles would get the ball back but punt it right back away with under a minute remaining.

After punting the ball away, special teamer and wide receiver Jake McLoughlin burst down the field forcing a fumble, winning the game for the Eagles.

The Eagles were led by running back Larry Martin who dashed for 137 yards on 25 carries, Brenner who tossed one touchdown touchdown and safety Jourdan Swett who recorded 12 tackles and an interception.

“Its hard to beat any team in football twice, to beat a good team is hard,” said Owens. “We get to advance and move on to take on IUP [Indiana University of Pennsylvania].”

The Eagles now look to take on Indiana University of Pennsylvania in the second round of the tournament. The Crimson Hawks sit as the No. 1 seed in the region, while the Eagles sit at No. 4.

They are set to play Nov. 26 at George P. Miller Stadium in Pennsylvania.