Notre Dame College bows out at Ashland in Round 1 of NCAA D-II football playoffs

Nov. 19—ASHLAND — Chris Brimm — unable to finish the game — walked slowly off the field at Jack Miller Stadium after congratulating members of the Ashland football team.

His impressive college career was over, and so was Notre Dame College's season.

The Falcons lost a defensive struggle in frigid and windy conditions to Ashland, 20-13, in a first-round NCAA Division II playoff game.

NDC (9-3) bowed out as five-time defending Mountain East Conference champions, with four playoff appearances since 2018.

For Brimm, who left the game in the fourth quarter with an undisclosed injury, he finished his NDC career with a 49-8 record — one victory short of Boise State's Kellen Moore's NCAA record of 50.

"Guys like Chris ... I've had the opportunity to be around a lot of great players," said NDC linebacker Nate Moore, who led his team with 13 tackles.

Garrett Turnbaugh's 12-yard touchdown reception from QB Austin Brenner late in the third quarter gave Ashland (10-1) a 17-6 lead and some breathing room.

Moments earlier, the Falcons — trailing, 10-3 — drove inside the Ashland 10 but settled for a Cameron Shirkey field goal to make it 10-6.

The Eagles' response turned the momentum back to the home team.

"To make it a two-score game after they scored was big," said Brenner, who was 7 of 15 for 69 yards and ran for a TD.

Said Ashland coach Lee Owens: "I thought that was the biggest drive of the year."

When Brimm (8 of 17 for 112 yards) left the game, backup Isaiah Murphy entered and got NDC back in it. His 8-yard TD pass to tight end C.J. Kiss early in the fourth made it 17-13 game.

"When you've have a quarterback who's been the guy for six years, you never know where it's going to go," said NDC coach Garrett Mack. "Hats off to our offense for putting stuff together. It shows how they've grown over the course of the year."

Ashland responded again as a career-long 44-yard field goal by A.J. Rhodes — with the wind at his back — made it 20-13.

The Falcons had one final shot, driving to the Ashland 10 late in the fourth but Murphy (6 of 8 for 61 yards) was sacked on fourth down.

.@NDCFB gets to Ashland 10 but can't convert 4th down pic.twitter.com/tXGjJ1VPXF

— Mark Podolski (@mpodo) November 19, 2022

Early on, the NDC defense made a big play to stake itself to a lead. On the third play of the game on third down, Brenner's pass was underthrown and intercepted by Tavon Hooks.

The Falcons took over in Ashland territory, and drove it 22 yards to the red zone before the drive stalled. Shirkey's 28-yard field goal made it 3-0.

In the second quarter, the Eagles' offense — which also fumbled away the ball to NDC in the first quarter — kept at it, and took a 10-3 advantage at halftime.

A 13-play, 62-yard drive early in the second quarter looked promising but stalled inside the NDC 10. A.J. Rhodes' 28-yard field goal tied the score at 3.

Later in the quarter, Ashland had another long, sustained drive — this one 12 plays, 65 yards — but this time it finished it off on a 5-yard run to the corner of the end zone by Brenner, and it was 10-3.

Those two drives allowed the Eagles to hold an advantage in total yards after two quarters, 173-53. NDC finished with 300 total yards to Ashland's 293.

Idris Lawrence led the Falcons with 115 yards on 24 carries. Larry Martin was Ashland's top runner with 135 yard on 25 attempts.

The Eagles next play at Indiana (Pa.) on Nov. 26 in Round 2 of the D-II playoffs.