AU Eagles fall 19-13 against IUP

Ayers dominates with 11 tackles and one interception in second round of postseason tournament


Wesley Seyfang

The Eagles season officially comes to a close with a 19-13 lost to IUP in the second round of the NCAA Division II Postseason Tournament.

Cade Cracas, Sports & Digital Editor

The Ashland University football team lost, 19-13, against the Indiana University of Pennsylvania Crimson Hawks in the second round of the NCAA Division II Postseason Tournament.

The Eagles, who downed the Notre Dame College Falcons in the opening round, looked to build off of the success they’ve found as the season has progressed.

To start the contest, the Crimson Hawks struck first delivering a six-yard touchdown pass to wideout Hilton Ridley from quarterback Mak Sexton making the score 6-0. The extra point would be missed, keeping the score differential at six.

Just moments later the Eagles would have their shot at finding the endzone.

With consistency proving to be a dividing factor between the two squads, a 38-yard strike to wideout Garrett Turnbaugh would seal the drive as the Eagles take a 7-6 lead. Eagle quarterback Austin Brenner dished off his first touchdown of the contest.

To start the second quarter, the Crimson Hawks found more success scoring just five seconds into the quarter.

From one yard out Sexton would dish off a dime to Daune Brown to put the Crimson Hawks up 12-7. Once again, the extra point would be missed.

The remaining 14:55 in the second quarter would see little happening as heading into halftime the score would remain 12-7.

The Eagles headed into halftime with just 103 total offensive yards and one turnover. Defensively, the Eagles forced two turnovers with the offense not helping convert those into points.

To start the second half of action neither squad could convert until a blocked punt put the Crimson Hawks up by seven more.

As backup quarterback Trevor Bycznski attempted to punt the ball with roughly four minutes left in the third quarter, graduate linebacker Connor Kelly wrestled his way into the backfield to pick up the blocked punt and return it 25 yards to the endzone.

This would put the Eagles in a sticky situation down by 12 with the score now set, 19-7.

In the fourth quarter, the Eagles continued to showcase stellar defense, with the offense finally finding the endzone in the second half.

Eagle running back Gei’Vonni Washington dashed for nine yards, scoring for the Eagles, making the score 19-13 after kicker A.J. Rhodes missed the extra point.

With 8:05 remaining in the game the Eagles and Crimson Hawks both went back and forth trying to find another score, but neither was able to.

The contest would come to a close after the Eagles got the ball back with roughly 40 seconds left in the contest. The setback however was zero timeouts to help them progress 74 yards down the field.

Brenner would scramble for five and throw a six-yard completion to wideout Logan Bolin before a handful of incompletions would end the contest.

Brenner finished with 183 yards, one touchdown and one interception, with 88 of those yards and the lone touchdown going to Turnbaugh. Outside of the passing game, the Eagles saw Larry Martin and Washington combine for 84 yards.

Defensively, the Eagles were led by linebacker Michael Ayers who recorded 11 tackles, two tackles for a loss and one interception. Defensive back Devin Prude also recorded an interception in the loss.

The Eagles would finish the season with a 9-1 record in regular season play, and 1-1 in the NCAA Division II Postseason Tournament.

With the loss, the Eagles’ season comes to a close as they now look to 2023.

The storyline now shifts to whether or not Eagle Head Coach Lee Owens has coached his last game.