EDITOR'S NOTE: This story was originally published by the Ashland University Sports Information Department.
ASHLAND -- Ashland University's football team ran out to a big lead on Saturday (Oct. 30) afternoon against Hillsdale, then held on for a 28-17 victory on Senior Day at Jack Miller Stadium/Martinelli Field.
The Eagles improve to 4-4 overall and 3-2 in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference after retaining the Traveling Trophy, while the Chargers are 4-5, 3-2.
Head coach Lee Owens said after the game that each of his seniors will get a game ball commemorating the victory.
"I don't know if there's been a senior class with more adversity in their careers, that I've coached," Owens said. "Losing a season to the pandemic…then to have all the injuries. It's a credit to this group. This is the most fired up I've seen our team."
Ashland wasted little time taking a 6-0 lead, as freshman quarterback Trent Maddox found freshman tight end Nabil Abdus-Salaam for a two-yard touchdown pass just 68 seconds into the game.
The Eagles went up 12-0 late in the first quarter when Maddox hit junior wide receiver Malik Wooldridge for a 26-yard score.
Three minutes and 21 seconds into the second quarter, sophomore tailback Larry Martin went in on a two-yard touchdown run to up the Eagles' lead to 19-0.
Junior kicker Storm Elsesser then made field goals of 38 yards late in the first half and 33 yards with 7:40 to go in the third quarter, to increase the Eagle lead to 25-0.
Hillsdale spoiled the shutout late in the third when running back Logan VanEnkevort went in to the end zone on a nine-yard scamper.
Leading 25-7, Ashland looked to work the clock. The Chargers, however, got the score to within 15 points at 25-10 with a 43-yard Julian Lee field goal, but 8:42 was left on the clock.
Hillsdale once again marched down the field, and cut its deficit to 25-17 with 4:58 to go in regulation when quarterback Garrit Aissen found H-back Alec Foos for a nine-yard major.
The Eagles did finally run the clock out, and with 20 seconds to go, Elsesser made a 22-yard field goal for the final margin of victory.
Sophomore defensive end Jeffrey Barnett was a terror on Saturday, recording three sacks, four tackles for loss, seven total tackles, a forced fumble and a pass breakup. He may be the only player in program history with a three-touchdown game (as a running back in 2019) and a three-sack contest.
"We just came in with a different aggression today," Barnett said. "We had to match their physicality to beat them."
Martin ran for a career-high 159 yards on 24 carries and had a TD, and fellow sophomore tailback Eli Potts finished with 91 yards on 18 totes, as the Eagles rushed for 289 yards.
"I hope I can keep it going," Martin said. "We're in the full swing of things. Our linemen produced again, and we were all on the same page."
Said Potts, "Larry and I both…they couldn't really stop us on the run."
Freshman quarterback Trent Maddox was 11-for-26 for 154 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Ashland forced three turnovers, and one of those was an interception by senior cornerback Joe Freeland on Senior Day.
"A lot of that technique came into play today," Freeland said. "When I saw the route concept, I was like, 'Yeah, I know what's going to happen.'"
Ashland will play its last two games on the road, starting on Nov. 6 at noon vs. Findlay (6-3, 4-1).