TIFFIN, Ohio – To err is to be human. But against this 2012 Ashland University football team, which is in the midst of an out-of-this-world season, mistakes can leave a team feeling naughty and anything but nice.
The Eagles reduced Tiffin's Air Raid attack to just the Err Attack on Saturday (Nov. 3) at Frost-Kalnow Stadium. AU, which still has a perfect record after 10 weeks, defeated the Dragons, 49-21.
The Eagles (10-0/9-0 GLIAC), ranked fifth in the country, are one victory away from completing the regular season unbeaten. The last AU team to accomplish that feat was the 1972 team that ended the season 11-0 and ranked fifth in the country. This team has also clinched the GLIAC crown, the first in school history. AU's final regular season game is next Saturday (Nov. 10, 1 p.m.) at home against Notre Dame.
Ashland led, 21-0 after one quarter, 21-6 at halftime and 35-14 after three quarters. The Eagles enjoyed a 440-295 edge in total yardage. Of AU's seven scoring drives, three took less than two minutes and six consumed 4:05 or less.
The loss left Tiffin with a 2-8 record, 1-8 in the GLIAC. AU completely shut down the Tiffin ground game. The Dragons finished the game with -27 yards rushing.
Senior quarterback Taylor Housewright (Ashland, Ohio) completed 19-of-27 passes for 253 yards and four touchdowns. Housewright has 27 touchdown passes this year. That's the second highest single-season total in school history. The single season record belongs to Billy Cundiff with 37 touchdown passes in 2008.
Housewright failed in his attempt to set the NCAA all divisions record for consecutive passes without an interception. In the second quarter, Housewright threw a pass to sophomore tailback Jordan McCune (Bellville, Ohio/Clear Fork). The ball bounced off of McCune's hands and up into the air and linebacker Kyle Finch swooped in to pick off the pass. That was Housewright's first interception since Oct. 20, 2011, at Saginaw Valley State. His streak ended at 377 passes, two short or equaling the NCAA record of 379 passes, set by Russell Wilson (North Carolina State) in 2008-09.
All of AU's first half touchdowns came on touchdown passes. Housewright found sophomore wide receiver Eric Thompkins (Canton, Ohio/South) with an 8-yard touchdown pass for the first score of the afternoon. That came with 10:55 left in the opening quarter. With 4:07 remaining in the quarter, Housewright and sophomore tight end Logan Slavinski (Bellville, Ohio/Clear Fork) teamed up on a 21-yard touchdown pass. The last Ashland score of the half came on a 33-yard pass from Housewright to senior wide receiver Anthony Capasso (Columbia Station, Ohio/St. Edward).
AU's second scoring drive was extended by two Tiffin penalties – a roughing-the-passer call and a personal foul. Tiffin scored once in the half, on a 1-yard run by tailback Kevin Humphrey. The Dragons lined up in kick formation and used a running play to try and convert a two-point conversion. The Eagles weren't fooled and AU was left with a 21-6 lead.
The Eagles broke the game open in the third quarter. First, sophomore tailback Anthony Taylor (Arlington, Va./Washington-Lee) scampered into the end zone on a 3-yard run. Later, Housewright went to sophomore wide receiver Dan Piko (Oak Lawn, Ill./Marist Academy) with a 21-yard touchdown pass for a 35-14 advantage. McCune scored on a 15-yard touchdown run with 14:20 left in the game to give Ashland a 42-14 lead. That gives McCune five touchdowns in the last two games. McCune finished the game with 88 yards on 11 carries (8.0 ypc.). Taylor had 61 yards on 21 carries. Taylor has a team-high 965 yards rushing this season.
In between those scores, the Dragons reached the end zone on a 25-yard pass play from quarterback Dan Pitts to wide receiver Jeremy Armstrong. Tiffin's ability to move the ball made this a much different game from last year's 70-13 win here. The Dragons threw for 322 yards. Pitts was 29-of-43 passing. Wide receiver Marcus Beaurem had eight receptions for 110 yards and Armstrong had six catches for 93 yards.
Ashland's last touchdown came when junior wide receiver David Soucie (Sagamore Hills, Ohi/Brecksville) returned an onside kick 46 yards for a score. That's the second time this season the Eagles have turned that trick. They also did it at Ferris State where Piko had a 43-yard return of an onside kick for a touchdown.
Junior linebacker Cody Bloom (Napoleon, Ohio) had a career-high 17 tackles (seven solo). That gives him 99 for the season. With one more tackle, Bloom will post his second straight 100-tackle season. The last AU player to do that was linebacker-safety Devin Conwell in 2003 and 2004.