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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 blowout Storm in 99th Homecoming outing, 31-19

The Ashland University football team pushes win streak to four straight
Mike Hopkins
Eagle quarterback Trevor Bycznski hands off the ball to running back Larry Martin at Jack Miller Stadium.

The Homecoming celebrations are set to start early after the Ashland University football team showed up and showed out in front of its home crowd at Jack Miller Stadium. Heading into the outing on Saturday, Oct. 21, the Eagles had won eight straight Homecoming contests, with a win against the Lake Erie College Storm pushing that record to nine.

Fortunately for the Eagles, that win would come in blowout fashion as for the fourth straight week, the defense showcased an impressive display of dominance, forcing one interception and allowing just 71 rushing yards on 35 attempts. The offense shined, with running back Larry Martin putting together back-to-back two-touchdown performances.

“We are anxious and excited to get back to Jack Miller Stadium. We love playing in front of our home fans and seeing the old former players,” said Head Coach Doug Geiser. “That is always a nice time for us.”

To begin the outing, the Eagles elected to defer for the second half, opting to give the ball to the Storm.

The Storm offense trotted down the field in 18 plays for 61 total yards of offense. That possession would knock nine minutes off the board before they attempted to kick a field goal for the opening three points of the outing. Unfortunately for the Storm, that field goal would be no good, sailing wide left.

The Eagles would then take over possession and moving the ball down the field, 65 yards in six plays.

Eagle kicker A.J. Rhodes would knock through a 32-yard field goal, giving the Eagles a 3-0 lead as the first quarter came to a close.

The following three drives would result in punts, with just five minutes being taken off the clock.

In the second quarter, the Eagles would take over possession with the ball placed at the Storm 16 yard line. Unlike other drives, this one would come to a close quickly as Martin would punch in his first touchdown of the outing off a 13-yard carry to pay dirt.

His score would come with five tacklers overtop of him, as he pounded his way for six points. The PAT would be knocked through by Rhodes, as he pushed the Eagles’ lead to ten with 7:43 remaining in the first half of play.

The following drive would see the Storm travel down the field in nine plays for 45 yards before turning the ball over on downs.

As the first half dwindled to a close, the Storm finally found the team’s first score of the contest as running back Raphael Jones Jr. dove into the endzone from two yards out. His score would come with 1:20 left in the opening 30 minutes of play, as the Storm brought the game within three, 10-7.

The Eagles then received the ball with 1:20 remaining in the half, as they moved down the field through five plays and 57 yards of offense. Eagle wideout Jake McLaughlin hauled in a 19-yard catch and run that set the team up with the ball inside the 10-yard line.

The play by McLaughlin would set up quarterback Trevor Bycznski who threw a cross-body dime to tight end Nabil Abdus-Salaam from six yards out that pushed the lead back to 10 heading into halftime.

“We get the ball coming out first in the second half,” said Geiser. “Credit goes to Tom Stacy for the incredible call, Trevor [Bycznski] hung in there and made a big play.”

At the break, Geiser wanted to see his team continue its consistencies, while also addressing small mishaps and hiccups.

“Those penalties were on us. We have got to stay disciplined and make sure the coaches help to limit those mistakes. That is the bottom line,” he said.

To begin the second half of play, the Eagles received the ball, marching down the field in eight plays before finding the endzone again. This time, the score would come from running back Gei’Vonni Washington who scored his first touchdown of the 2023-24 season.

His touchdown would give the Eagles a 24-7 lead.

The remainder of the third quarter would see no other action, as the fourth quarter would sit in the hands of the Eagles as they looked to pull off a win in AU’s 99th Homecoming game.

However, the Storm would not drift away quietly as Jones Jr. found the endzone for the second time of the game, capping off an 80-yard drive. The Storm pulled the game back within 10 points, 24-13.

The Eagles then took back over and responded, with Martin continuing to move the ball down the field on the ground. After a seven play, 67-yard drive, he took off for a 35-yard touchdown.

The Storm would find one more score as Jones Jr. ran in the ball from five yards out. The team’s possession would last five yards, putting the game to rest and finishing the game off with a 31-19 scoreline.

The win would be the Eagles’ 13th win on Homecoming at Jack Miller Stadium and the team’s eighth straight.

Offensively, the Eagles were led by Martin who dashed for 111 yards on just 12 attempts while finding two touchdowns. Outside of Martin, Washington found pay dirt once while running for 89 yards.

“The gameplan is always to have a balanced attack,” said Geiser. “The running attack was working a bit more, the wet ball was definitely playing a factor. The coaches made a good job adjusting to the conditions.”

On the defensive side of the ball, Defensive Coordinator Tim Rose saw another phenomenal game from defensive end Michael Shimek who recorded seven tackles and Harkness who hauled in one interception on the only turnover of the game. The 21 points allowed brings the team’s points allowed to just 37 over the last four outings.

“We got the win on Homecoming. We are now 13-1 on Homecoming [at Jack Miller Stadium] and have won nine straight,” said Geiser. “We have got to keep stacking wins and control what we can control. At the end, hopefully someone can help us out.”

With the win, the Eagles improve to 5-3 overall on the season and 5-1 in conference play, while the Storm fall to 1-7 on the season and remain winless in conference play.

The Eagles will next look to take on the Thomas More Saints at home on Saturday, Oct. 28, with kickoff set for 1:00 P.M. at Jack Miller Stadium.

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