After improving to 5-0 against Michigan Tech the previous week, the SVSU football team fell just short to the Ashland Eagles, suffering their first loss of the year, 21-17, on Saturday, Oct. 6.
The Cardinals claimed the first score of the game midway through the first quarter on a two-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Ryan Conklin to sophomore wide receiver Chad Gailliard, a connection that Cardinal fans have become quite familiar with this year.
Ashland responded with a short four-play-drive resulting in a 57-yard touchdown hook-up from Eagle quarterback Austin Brenner to wide receiver Logan Bolin. Ashland went on to take a 14-7 lead on a one-yard Andrew Vaughn rush for the Eagles’ second unanswered score.
Freshman kicker Connor Luksic trim the deficit to 14-10 in favor of the Cardinals with a 25-yard field goal before halftime.
The Cardinals were forced to punt on their first possession of the second half. A fumble was forced on the return, giving the offense great field position at Ashland’s five-yard line.
Conklin earned his second passing touchdown of the day, completing it to redshirt freshman Dominick Fiscelli from seven yards out, giving the Cardinals a 17-14 lead.
The teams traded punts through the remainder of the third and beginning of the fourth quarter until Brenner found Vaughn, capping off an 11-play, 51-yard drive with a 10-yard passing touchdown, giving Ashland the 21-17 edge with 5:28 left in the game.
The Eagle defense held firm, stopping the Cardinals on their last two drives of the game. A weather delay was issued with 1:47 left to go in the game, after Ashland had claimed an interception, allowing them to simply expire the remaining time after the delay, the victory over the Cardinals in a closely-matched game, 21-17.
Even given the loss, head coach Jim Collins remains confident in the team’s abilities.
“I expect us to have a great week of practice and bounce back,” Collins said. “(Next week) is an excellent opportunity to show what we are made of.”