The Student News Site of Ashland University

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Ashland University

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Ashland University

The Collegian

Eagles find first win of the season in 38-14 defeat of Hillsdale

The Eagles put together 318 yards of offense in the victory
Mike Hopkins
The Eagles hoist the Traveling Trophy after taking down the Chargers at home.

The Ashland University football team has finally found its first win of the 2023-24 season with a dominating display against the Hillsdale College Chargers.

On Saturday, Sept. 16, the two sides went toe-to-toe at Jack Miller Stadium in a contest for the Traveling Trophy. Both teams were winless on the season, but it was the Eagles who would snap their losing streak in a 38-14 dominating display.

“Before the season I broke the schedule up into four quarters. The first quarter was two of the top teams in the country [IUP and Ferris],” said Eagle Head Coach Doug Geiser. “Now it’s onto conference play. We go up against some of the top teams and we have to turn the page. Hillsdale is our rival and we have to respect that.”

Off the rip, the rivalry and competitiveness were displayed at an extremely high level.

To start the contest the Chargers had elected to defer possession to the second half as they would do the honors of booting the ball away on the kickoff. However, they had trickery up their sleeve as the team took a surprise onside kick which would be recovered, shifting momentum early.

The Charger offense then waltzed onto the field and took the ball down the field 54 yards in five plays before finding wideout Sam Lee in the endzone for the opening score.

After starting the contest off strong on the opening drive, the Chargers would go on to sputter offensively.

The Eagles on the other hand shifted gears and showcased elite poise. With 3 minutes left in the first quarter, the Eagles would go 77 yards in 11 plays until running back Larry Martin would dash 13 yards into the endzone to knot the game up at seven a piece.

The score would be his second touchdown on the season.

After those two scores, the two sides would showcase stifling defense. To begin the second quarter the Eagles’ first drive ended in a turnover on downs, then the Chargers would end their next drive with a missed field goal.

The next big opportunity came in the dying embers of the first half.

With under one minute left, the Chargers had possession offensively and looked to march down the field and head into halftime with a lead. Eagle linebacker Jackson Myers had a different storyline in mind as a tipped pass at the line would end up in his arms.

Myers then proceeded to take it 34 yards to the house for a pick-six, giving the Eagles a 14-7 lead at the end of the opening 30 minutes.

At the halftime break, Coach Geiser highlighted the importance of the strong start from his team.

“Tim [Rose] has got the boys playing strong on the defense led by Jackson Myers. I always say it, big time players make big time plays,” he said. “I feel confident that we will come out and finish this game in the second half.”

From the opening play of the second half, the Eagles instantly took over the contest and slammed the door in the Chargers face.

On the kickoff, Charger return man Michael Herzog fumbled the ball and Eagle sophomore wideout Tyler Davis dove onto the loose ball, getting possession for the Eagles. While they were unable to find a touchdown in the redzone, it was kicker A.J. Rhodes who blasted the ball 32 yards through the uprights.

With a 17-7 lead the Chargers looked to bounce back, but another fumble in the redzone, this time from the offense, would set the Eagles up with another redzone placement.

Quarterback Trevor Bycznski would sling the rock to wide out Dezmin Lyburtus from 25 yards out to give the Eagles a score, pushing the lead to 17 with 3:22 left in the third quarter.

“He has done a great job fitting into his role and he is stepping up when we ask him to,” said Geiser. “We are happy he is here.”

The next score would come less than seven minutes later as the Eagles struck once again. This time it came from freshman wideout Jamari Croom who found pay-dirt from 17 yards out. The Eagles would then sit with a 31-7 lead in the fourth quarter.

The defense would stand strong and force a three and out for the Charger offense on the next drive, giving the ball right back to the Eagles. They would go 43 yards in five plays before finding a three yard rushing score from Martin to find his third touchdown on the season.

With a 38-7 lead, the Eagles were easily on their way to taking back the Traveling Trophy, finding their first win of the season and kicking off conference play with a 1-0 record.

However, to ease the pain, the Chargers would put one more score on the board after sacking Eagle punter Jaden Cook and going 32 yards in three players to find their second score of the contest.

“My message to the team was finish the game,” said Geiser. “The first two weeks we did not finish the game on both sides of the ball.”

The Eagles were led by an impressive 69% completion percentage from Bycznski to go alongside 226 yards and two touchdowns. His two touchdowns were sent to Lyburtus, who also dashed for 106 yards, and Croom, who recorded 63 yards. On the ground, running back Larry Martin finished with 56 yards and two touchdowns.

Defensively, defensive linemen Chris Julian and Deeb Alawan finished with two sacks each while the team had seven in total. Myers finished with five tackles, one for a loss and one interception.

“I am happy for those guys. We challenged them to bring the trophy back home and they did just that,” said Geiser.

The Eagles next look to head on the road in Great Midwest Athletic Conference play as they take on the Tiffin University Dragons on Saturday, Sept. 23, at 4 p.m.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All AU Collegian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *