UNIVERSITY CENTER, Mich. - Saginaw Valley State University defeated No. 23 Ashland University by the score of 27-6 in the CBS Sports Network NCAA Division II Football "Game of the Week" played at Wickes Memorial Stadium on the SVSU campus.
The first big play of game came on the first SVSU series. The Cardinals tried a fake punt on a fourth-and-six play on their own 23-yard line. SVSU punter Alec Smith (Grand Haven, Mich.)tried to run for the first down, but managed just two yards before being knocked out of bounds.
The Cardinals would respond by holding the Ashland offense to a 37-yard field attempt by the Eagles place kicker Gregg Berkshire that was blocked by the paw of Christian Babini (Rochester, Mich./Adams HS).
Berkshire, who came into the contest as the league's leading kick scorer, missed his second field goal of the opening quarter when his attempt went wide right. The Cardinals would take over at their own 20 with 2:17 remaining in the first.
The Cardinals would get on the scoreboard first, four minutes into the second quarter. After recovering a punt that was muffed by Ashland's David Soucie at the AU 10-yard line, the Cardinals would score on the next play when sophomore quarterback Jonathon Jennings (Colombus, Ohio/Westerville South) found junior tight end Zach Cecich (Crown Point, Ind.) for the game's first score.
Ashland would mount a strong drive, entering the red-zone with a first down at the SVSU 19, when AU freshman tailback Jordan McCune fumbled a pitch that was recovered by SVSU sophomore defensive back DeAngelo Parris (Clinton Township, Mich./Warren De LaSalle HS).
The Ashland defense would force an SVSU missed field goal on the ensuing drive as Scott Stanford's (Novi, Mich.)38-yard attempt hit the right upright and bounced out. The game's kicking woes would continue when Berkshire missed his third kick of the game, a 42-yard attempt that was blocked by SVSU sophomore DL Ryan Busch (Holton, Mich.), with just seconds remaining in the half. The half would end with SVSU leading, 7-0.
In the third quarter, Saginaw Valley would put together the game's most impressive drive, a 12-play, 50-yard drive that ate up 12:57 of the clock and resulted in a Jennings 15-yard scoring pass to sophomore wideout Mark Thrash (Wyoming, Mich./Wyoming Park).
The Cardinals would continue the scoring in the fourth quarter, posting TDs on a Jennings four-yard run and a 63-yard fumble return by senior safety Darius Middlebrooks, increasing the SVSU lead to 27-0.
Ashland ended the Cardinal shutout late in the fourth quarter when backup quarterback freshman Cole Hudson hit junior wideout Anthony Capasso with a 9-yard touchdown pass with 1:03 remaining in the game.
Turnovers were the story of the game as the Eagles lost four fumbles and had one pass intercepted, while the Cardinals turned the ball over just once.
The Cardinal offense was led by sophomore tailback Tim Hogue (Inkster, Mich.) who tallied 98 yards on 13 carries. Jennings completed 13 of 22 passes for 140 yards and two scores, Thrash hauled in four passes for 36 yards and one touchdown.
The Saginaw Valley defense was named "Meijer Player of the Game" as they held Ashland to 275 yards of total offense and forced the five Eagle turnovers. Junior linebacker Grant Caserta (Holland, Mich./West Holland) tied for the team lead with 11 tackles and the interception. Senior defensive end Brandon Williams also had 11 tackles, while junior defensive end Nate Snyder (Dearbon, Mich.) added eight tackles including a sack.
The Cardinals stay on top of the GLIAC's North Division with a 5-2 record (5-2 overall), while Ashland falls to 5-2 in league play and 5-3 overall.
Saginaw Valley State will be back in action next Saturday, October 29, when the Cardinals visit Wayne State University in Detroit. Kickoff is scheduled for Noon.