ASHLAND, OH- After their 31-19 win over Saginaw Valley State last Saturday the, 10-1 9-0 champions of the GLIAC Ashland University Eagles will host the first round of the NCAA Division II playoffs Saturday at noon at Jack Miller Stadium/Martinelli Field when they take on 9-2 Northwest Missouri State. GLIAC honors went out to quarterback Travis Tarnowski (191-317 2,600 yards, 26 TD's), Player of the Year. Dominic Giunta, Lineman of the Year. And coach Lee Owens, Coach of the Year.
"We had 20 players on the all-league team which has never been the case," said Owens. It's so hard to get players recognized in this league. They announced that wide receiver Matt Milcox (37-707-5 TD's) won the Jack H. McAvoy Award, which is the most prestigious award given in our conference. You have to be a heck of a football player, be a great leader and have academics. He's got all that."
The opponent the Eagles will face has the top defense in the country in Division II. The Bearcats have not allowed a rushing touchdown, have posted five shutouts and have not allowed 100 yards on the ground this season. Says Owens, "They lost to Pittsburgh State they had seven turnovers. They lost to #1 Fort Hays 14-13, either we win 14-13, or we get seven turnovers. They also had a 38 game winning streak before they lost. They are two-time defending national champions won three out of the last four and since 1998, they have been in the finals ten times and have six national championships."
Freshman wide receiver Logan Bolin (33-353-5 TD's) says NWMS is a mix of the best defenses in the GLIAC. "I guess you could say they are a mix of a lot of the good defenses we've seen. They are sound up front. Their defensive backs are very good and their linebackers are good. They are good everywhere."
The weather Saturday in Ashland, Ohio is going to be less than ideal with rain and windy conditions with temps in the 50's. Asked if it would affect the AU offense Owens responded, "We've been practicing in the crappy weather all week long. We're used to playing in the rain. Our guys grew up in Northeast Ohio this is home. We don't have to acclimate to this weather. I'm more worried about trying to get a first down or two against this great defense."
The winner of the Ashland University/Northwest Missouri State matchup will take on the winner of the 11-0 Indianapolis/8-3 Harding contest next Saturday.