ASHLAND, Ohio -- In the final matchup of the 2017 regular season, the Cardinals traveled to play the No. 10 team in the country in the Ashland University Eagles. After jumping out to a quick lead and holding a 13-10 lead at the half, the Cardinals couldn't hold off a solid second half from Ashland, as the Eagles scored 21 second half points in securing a 31-19 victory.
The Eagles had the only score of the opening quarter, as the home team connected on a field goal to take a 3-0 lead with just 1:26 showing on the clock and that score held true into the quarter break.
SVSU responded right away, driving the ball down the field in six plays and 75 yards to take the lead at 7-3 after Ryan Conklin scored a rushing touchdown from four yards out and Drew Franklin connected on the extra-point.
After the Cardinal defense forced a quick three-and-out to get the ball back, Conklin wasted no time in finding Chad Gailliard on the first play of the next drive on a 73-yard touchdown pass. That extended the visitors' lead to 13-3 after the PAT try failed at the 12:31 point of the second quarter.
Ashland, however, would sneak one into the endzone with just 26 seconds remaining in the half, cutting the deficit to 13-10 as the teams headed into the halftime break.
The Eagles continued to add another three straight touchdowns as the game entered the later stages of the fourth quarter, with the last one coming as 4:45 was left to play to make the score 31-13 in their favor.
Saginaw Valley responded to that AU score, keeping a little hope alive after they marched back down the field and capped-off a 12 play, 65-yard drive with a four yard TD pass from Conklin to Josh Schelke. The two-point conversion failed and the score was 31-19 with 1:07 left to play in the game.
That set up the Cards with an onside kick attempt to remain alive with a pair of timeouts remaining. The kick took a nice hop but was recovered by the Eagles, who were able to kneel the clock out and claim the 12-point win over the Cardinals.
Inside the Boxscore
- Conklin accounted for all three SVSU scores, rushing one in and passing for two more. He totaled 241 yards through the air while earning Meijer "Player of the Game" honors.
- Gailliard finished with 161 yards receiving on six catches with a touchdown. His 84.9 yards per game finished leading the league and his 8 touchdowns rank him third in just his redshirt freshman campaign.
- Schelke's receiving touchdown was the first of his career.
- Nate Moore rushed the ball 15 times for 102 yards. It marks his second 100-yard performance in just his seventh collegiate game.
- Bryan Jones led the Cardinal defense with a team-high 10 tackles in his final contest. His 403 career tackles rank him third all-time.
- Michael Alexander added eight stops as well for SV. He finishes with a team-high 94 tackles in 2017.
- Justin Whitted added six tackles for the Cardinals.
- The Eagles claimed the outright GLIAC championship after the victory.
The contest at Ashland wraps up the 2017 season for Saginaw Valley. The team will open the 2018 season on Thursday, August 30 at home versus Alderson Broaddus. It will be the first of seven home games for the Cardinals next year.
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