Story and photo courtesy of Ashland Athletics
COLUMBUS, Ohio – All of you folks who have Taylor Housewright on your Christmas list, don't bother looking for a carving knife. Housewright's arm and legs function better than anything out there on the market.
Housewright sliced up the Ohio Dominican Panthers for 285 passing yards and two touchdowns as ninth-ranked Ashland left ODU's Panther Field with a 44-21 victory on Saturday (Oct. 6). Housewright directed scoring drives of 80 yards (nine plays), 84 yards (12 plays), 78 yards (nine plays), 80 yards (7 plays) and 81 yards (14 plays). He completed 28 of 43 passes, rushed for 22 yards on five carries and punted three times and averaged 37.7 ypp. The Eagles were 9-of-19 (47 percent) on third down and 4-of-5 (80 percent) on fourth down. AU led in total yards, 556-278.
Thanks to Housewright, the Panthers needed a cut man worse than Tex Cobb in his so-called prime.
AU is 6-0 for the first time since the 1991 season. Ashland is 5-0 in the GLIAC.
This looked to be as stern a test as the Eagles faced this year. ODU entered the game with a 3-2 record, but both of those losses came on the road to ranked foes – Hillsdale and Grand Valley State. ODU (3-3/2-3) scores over 30 points per game and has enough playmakers on defense to cause havoc.
The Eagles discovered all of this first hand early in the game. With 5:40 left in the first half, freshman quarterback Tajuan Green was inserted into the game at wide receiver. He took a pitch from quarterback Mark Miller and fired a 65-yard scoring pass to wideout Ronald McCloud. Brent Wahle's extra point gave the Panthers a 7-0 lead.
Ashland quickly answered with a nine-play, 80-yard scoring drive that ended with sophomore tailback Anthony Taylor (Arlington, Va./Washington-Lee) scoring on a 3-yard run. Redshirt freshman Cameron Casey (Rochester, Mich./Adams) missed the extra point, leaving AU a point behind.
ODU increased its lead to 14-6 with 10:41 with 10:41 left in the first half when Miller hit wide receiver Abe Johnson with a 19-yard touchdown pass. That drive lasted four plays and went 49 yards. ODU's first touchdown run was two plays and 71 yards.
The Panthers found an effective formula for attacking the Eagles in the first half. It's the same method of operation that worked so well at Grand Valley State and against Walsh – give the ball to freshman tailback Brandon Schoen and work from there. Schoen had 105 yards on 18 carries in the first half. His efficiency waned in the second half when he had four yards on four carries. The AU defense limited the Panthers to 69 yards and one first down in the second half. Ashland forced a pair of second half turnovers.
That defensive effort was led by junior defensive lineman Jamie Meder (Parma, Ohio/Valley Forge), who had a team-high eight tackles.
The Eagles pulled to within 14-13 with 5:57 left in the half on a 1-yard touchdown run by sophomore tailback Jordan McCune (Bellville, Ohio/Clear Fork) That 12-play, 84-yard drive featured two impressive third-down conversions. On a third-and-three play, Housewright fired toward senior wide receiver Anthony Capasso (Columbia Station, Ohio/St. Edward), who made an acrobatic grab for a 23-yard game. Later, on a third-and-seven play, Housewright dumped the ball off to McCune, who moved the chains with an 11-yard gain.
The Panthers went in front, 21-13 on a 19-yard run by Schoen with 1:58 remaining in the half. The Eagles got back to within 21-20 when Housewright combined with junior Brian Gamble (Massillon, Ohio/Illinois) on a 19-yard touchdown pass. The touchdown catch was the first of Gamble's AU career. Gamble, who is primarily a defensive back, has been inserted on offense on the final drive of the half, on a regular basis the last few weeks. In this game, in addition to the touchdown catch, he had seven tackles (six solo), one tackle for loss and a fumble recovery.
AU took its first lead of the game with 12:39 left in the third quarter when Thompson scored his second touchdown of the game. This was his fourth rushing touchdown of the year and came on a 45-yard run. Casey's extra point put the Eagles in front, 27-21. Thompson finished with 128 yards on 17 carries.
The Eagles closed out the quarter with a 14-play, 81-yard trip that took 7:06 off the clock. That journey ended with McCune's second touchdown run of the day, this one from eight yards. The extra point gave Ashland a 34-21 advantage entering the fourth quarter. McCune had 115 yards on 18 carries. This was his second consecutive 100-yard rushing game and the fourth of his career.
AU added 10 fourth-quarter points. Casey kicked his fifth field of the season (he's 5-for-5) and Housewright threw a 1-yard touchdown pass to sophomore tight end Matt Schweitzer (Dublin, Ohio/Bishop Watterson).
The Eagles return home next Saturday (Oct. 13, 1 p.m.) when they host Walsh.