GW's defense, which allowed 419 yards in last week's win at SC, will be tested tonight by a Tomcats attack that has thrived in wins against Kentucky rivals Lawrence County (51-20) and Raceland (42-19).
Freshman running back Quinton Baker, part of an almost entirely new backfield, has the most carries for Paul Blazer, 21 for 162 yards. Evan Yongue leads with 169 yards on 15 attempts, and Aaron Elam has hit on 12 of 21 passes for 221 yards and four TDs. Ashland returned all but one offensive lineman from a year ago.
"It doesn't look like they lost much,'' Edwards said. "They're running the same things, just with new guys. They're physical, and they challenge you every down. You'd better come ready to play or you're in for a long night. They do a good mix of running and throwing the football. They figure out what they want to do and whatever works, they wear you out with it.''
The Tomcats, with five of their front six returning on the other side of the ball, also feature an opportunistic defense that has forced nine turnovers, turning three into immediate TDs on returns and later cashing in four others for scores. Ashland has allowed 580 yards in two games, but Hart said that carries an asterisk.
"A lot of that becomes skewed,'' he said, "because we're ahead 30-0 in the first quarter of our first ballgame and we start subbing, and they get points on our JVs and freshmen. I'm not a big stats guy, but we haven't played as good a defense as we're capable of playing. We've made some plays, but we've got some things we need to get corrected.''
Hart said the teams have agreed to continue their series after tonight's game.
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickr...@wvgazette.com.