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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Ashland University

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Ashland University

The Collegian

AU Eagles sneak past Thomas More at home, 28-20

The Eagle football team has now won five outings straight, improving to 6-3 on the season
Mike Hopkins
The Eagle special teams unit continues to shine throughout the 2023-24 Great Midwest Athletic Conference regular season.

Another week, another win for the Ashland University football team. On Saturday, Oct. 28, the Eagles and Thomas More Saints went toe-to-toe with one another at Jack Miller Stadium, with the Eagles coming out on top, 28-20.

The Eagles were led by another big game from quarterback Trevor Bycznski who tossed for 200 yards and four touchdowns in the win. Now on the season, he has thrown 18 touchdowns while committing just three turnovers as the Eagles look to make a run for the NCAA Division II Postseason Playoffs.

In the first half of play, the two teams began with a stalemate. Through the opening five drives, the two teams’ offenses could not get any momentum underneath their belts as they did not get onto the opposing team’s side of the field.

For the Eagles, both the rushing and passing attacks struggled.

Heading into the second quarter the game was level with zero points scored, marking the first time the Eagles had seen such a scoreline.

However, the Saints would be the first team to strike as they marched down the field 80 yards in seven plays with just 2:44 taken off the board. Saints quarterback Rae’Von Vaden looked unstoppable, using both his legs and arm to move the ball down the field before finding tight end Mike Kirch from 6 yards out for the opening score.

The Saints would go up 7-0 just 46 seconds into the second quarter of play.

After the momentum shifted into the away team’s hands, the Eagle faithful at Jack Miller Stadium attempted to rally behind the team, continuously getting louder. Unfortunately, the loudness went from positivity, to negativity after running back Larry Martin would fumble the ball, giving possession right back to the Saints.

The turnover for the Eagles would be the team’s first lost-fumble of the 2023-24 campaign.

The Saints would then go five plays for just four yards before attempting a long 40-yard field goal and making it at the foot of kicker Luke Iden. With a 10-0 lead, they looked poised to start pulling away.

The following drive would see the Eagle offense finally pick up some speed, with the team going 64 yards down the field in eight plays behind Bycznski. He would find wideout Jake McLoughlin from 18 yards out with roughly 10 minutes remaining until halftime.

The score brought the Eagles back within three points.

After getting the ball back, the Saints would continue to look solid offensively as they moved down the field and attempted a 42-yard field goal. The Eagles would block the field goal, getting the ball right back as momentum swung drastically back in the Eagles favor.

The Eagles would then find another score, as on fourth down, the offense would go for it and a slant across the middle to wideout Tony Pannunzio for a 51-yard touchdown. The touchdown would give the Eagles a 14-10 lead, the team’s first of the day.

They would then finish the first half with an interception from defensive tackle Collin Strong, followed by another passing touchdown, this time with tight end Brock Henne on the receiving end. His score from three yards out would be the final highlight of the first half.

Heading into halftime, the Eagles led 21-10, scoring 21 points straight after giving up 10 early.

Coming out of the break the Saints received the ball and finished the first drive of the half with three points. Iden made his second field goal of the game from 41 yards away to move the contest back within one score, 21-13.

The remainder of the third quarter, the Eagles, with an eight point lead, opted to run down the clock as much as possible taking up 5:49 with 10 plays. This would set the storyline for the remainder of the game, as the Eagles continuously took up the time of possession to keep Vaden and the Saints offense off the field.

No points would be scored through the remainder of the quarter, as the Eagles led 21-13 heading into the final 15 minutes of play.

To begin the fourth quarter, the Eagles found the team’s final score of the game as once again, it would be the passing game that thrived. Bycznski, with 12:18 left in the game, threw a dime to wideout Jent Joseph across the middle of the field as he dashed 18 yards to the endzone.

That touchdown would be his fourth on the game, marking 18 touchdowns on the season.

After going up 28-13, the Saints responded just one more time as wideout Freddie Johnson hauled in a 14-yard touchdown with under nine minutes remaining.

The remaining time would be spent with the two teams going back and forth, while the Eagles wasted out the clock.

The team was led by Bycznski who finished with 200 yards and four touchdowns, running back Gei’vonni Washington with 79 yards and wideout Dezmin Lyburtus who hauled in six catches for 50 yards. On the defensive side of things, Strong recorded one interception, and Chaise Ford, Bobby Young and Ben Holzopfel who all recorded seven tackles.

With the win, the team prepares to take on the University of Findlay Oilers at home on Saturday, Oct. 4, with kickoff set for 1:00 P.M.

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