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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Ashland University

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Ashland University

The Collegian

Eagles bounce back on the road, taking down Panthers in 20-6 contest

The team improves to 2-3 on the season and 2-1 in Great Midwest Athletic Conference play
Wesley Seyfang
The Eagles and Panthers went toe-to-toe against one another in the 2022-23 season in Week Seven, with the Eagles pulling off a 14-7 nail-biting win.

The Ashland University football team took down the Ohio Dominican Panthers, 20-6, in Week Five of the 2023-24 fall season.

The Eagles and Panthers came into the outing against one another with 1-3 records, attempting to bounce back after losses the previous week. When the contest came to a close after 60 minutes, it was the Eagles stifling offense that proved to be the difference maker as Eagle quarterback Trevor Bycznski tossed for 167 yards, finding wideout Dezmin Lyburtus nine times for 73 yards.

“Everything is always better after a win. Our kids fought hard and responded to the challenge,” said Head Coach Doug Geiser. “They beat a really good Ohio Dominican team.”

To begin the opening half of play, the Panthers received the ball first. The Eagle defense showcased the poise they have throughout the majority of the season, forcing the opposing offense off the field fast.

When getting the ball offensively, the Eagles went to work utilizing both the running and passing game, with Bycznski starting the contest off strong completing 8-of-9 passes for 57 yards through the air. He connected with tight end Nabil Abdus-Salaam twice and Lyburtus three times for 31 yards.

The drive would end with Eagle kicker A.J. Rhodes knocking through a field goal from 34 yards out to give the team a 3-0 lead with under four minutes left in the first quarter. The Eagle defense would once again shine, forcing the Panther off the field after seven plays.

In the second quarter, both defenses would force three-and-outs on back-to-back drives. Through the opening 16 plays of the second 15 minutes of play the ball would switch teams five times.

Following hard-nosed back and forth play from both sides, the Panther offense would rally and travel 29 yards down the field in seven plays before attempting a game-tying field goal. Panther kicker Ivan Ermlich attempted a 39-yard field goal but the Eagles’ special teams unit would block the kick, keeping a 3-0 lead in place for the Eagles.

The remainder of the first half would be marked by the defensive efforts from both teams, as the only other points scored came with 30 seconds from Rhodes, who blasted the ball through the uprights from 23 yards away.

The Eagles would head into halftime with a 6-0 lead over the Panthers on the road. Heading into the second half, the Eagles needed to remain in control of the momentum on the road, with the Panther faithful growing restless.

The Eagles were headlined by Bycznski would tossed 23 passes, completing 13 for 97 yards. Leading the way receiving was Lyburtus and Tony Pannunzio who attributed to eight catches for 74 yards. On the other side of the ball, linebacker Jackson Myers made six tackles with one going for a loss of yardage.

The Eagles would open up the second half with possession, and just like the first, they would attempt to find the games first touchdown.

That attempt would be successful as they traveled 75 yards down the field in 16 plays and seven minutes, before running back Larry Martin would dive into the endzone from one yard out, pushing the Eagles’ lead to 13.

“I challenged our team to get us over 20 points on offense,” said Geiser. “We could feel the way the game was going and we knew if we got to 20, we were gonna win the game. I was really proud of the offense to go straight down the field and score on the opening drive of the second half. That response was huge.”

With roughly four minutes left in the third quarter of play, the Panthers would finally answer back as they scored the teams first point of the game. It would take them three plays and 58 yards to find the endzone off the back of quarterback Drew Gallehue who completed a dot to wideout Ty Wiley for the touchdown.

The touchdown from the Panthers would bring the scoreline closer, 13-6.

After missing the extra point, the kickoff would come from the Panthers. The momentum just established would be wiped away as Lyburtus decided to take over, returning the kick 90 yards to the house, pushing the lead back to 14.

“Dezmin keeps making plays for us all over the field. Whether it is as a returner or a reciever, when we need a play he steps up,” said Geiser. “That big return was something special. The kickoff unit has been close all year, and to finally see them break through was great.”

The third quarter would come to a close with the Eagles leading, 20-6.

In the fourth quarter of play, the two sides would commit back-to-back turnovers.

For the Eagles, they would throw an interception with 5:31 remaining in the contest, with Bycznski dropping back and getting hit while intending to find wideout Jamari Croom on the opposite sideline. On the interception was Panther defensive back, Daishaun Hill.

The following drive would see the Panther offense go three plays and record -13 yards before Gallehue tossed a pass straight into the arms of Eagle defensive back Jovon Sewell. He would take the ball 33 yards down the field, giving the Eagles excellent field position inside the Panthers redzone.

However, the Eagle offense would sputter, and end up punting the ball back to the Panthers with three minutes left on the clock, leading by 14. The defense would remain strong like it had all day long, forcing the Panthers offense to turn over the ball on downs after nine plays and 23 yards of offense.

The Eagles would then proceed to run out the clock, effectively winning the contest with a 20-6 scoreline.

“We went back to basics this week. Nothing new went into it,” said Geiser. “We wanted to play Ashland defense and fight for all four quarters.”

The Eagles were led by Bycznski on the offensive side of things who tossed 34 passes, completing 21 of them to go for 167 yards, and running back Larry Martin who pounded the rock 18 times for 67 yards and one touchdown. Defensively, it was Myers who stood out once again for the team as he recorded a team high seven tackles with one for a loss. Sewell finished the contest with two tackles and one interception.

The Eagles improved to 2-3 on the season and kept themselves towards the upper-half of the conference table. They will return home after a two-game road span to take on the Walsh Cavaliers on Saturday, Oct. 7, with kickoff set for 7:00 p.m. at Jack Miller Stadium.

“We like to play at Jack Miller Stadium. There is something special about playing infront of our home fans,” said Geiser. “We hope we get a big crowd out there.”

Cade Cracas
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