ASHLAND — It won’t decide a conference championship or secure a playoff invitation, but to the players at Ashland at Findlay it’s still a big deal.
The Eagles and Oilers will renew a longstanding rivalry at noon Saturday at Findlay’s Donnell Stadium. It will be the 48th meeting in a series that dates to 1924, but the first since 2016.
Findlay was a member of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference along with Ashland from 1997 to 2017 before leaving for the Great Midwest Athletic Conference.
“We’re looking forward to playing another Ohio school,” AU coach Lee Owens said. “It’s good to have a game like this.”
The Eagles (6-3) are coming off a 24-21 win at Saginaw Valley State. Quarterback Austin Brenner completed 15 of 25 passes for 201 yards and two touchdowns. Tailback Gei’vonni Washington rushed for 106 yards on 24 carries, his sixth straight 100-yard game. Washington leads the GLIAC in rushing with 963 yards, while Brenner leads the league in passing with 1,774 yards.
Findlay counters with one of the best running backs in all of Division II and a familiar face to local high school football fans. Brian Benson, who starred at Mansfield Senior, averages 111.9 rushing yards a game. Quarterback Matt Winzeler has completed 161 of 286 passes for 2,000 yards and 19 touchdowns. Ruben Flowers has 57 catches for 771 yards and six TDs.
Ashland defensive end Tristan Reichelderfer was selected the GLIAC’s Defensive Player of the Week after tying a single-game record with 3.5 sacks at Saginaw. He had 10 tackles on the day and forced a fumble.
“He had a really good day,” Owens said. “They struggled to block Tristan and he had, in terms of total productivity, about a point every other play he was in there, which is off the charts.”
Reichelderfer and the rest of the AU defense will have its hands full Saturday. The Oilers are coming off a 61-14 win at Lake Erie.
“Findlay is always a good team,” Owens said. “I asked the captains … are you glad we signed this deal? To a man, they would rather play.”