ASHLAND -- The Ashland Arrows are on a bit of a roll.
Coach Sean Seder's team began the season with four straight losses, albeit against a brutal early-season schedule.
But Friday night's 20-7 victory over Madison is Ashland's second straight victory and has Seder's squad feeling some momentum as it dives into the teeth of its Ohio Cardinal Conference schedule.
"We're starting to get some guys back and we feel like we're building up a little bit," Seder said. "We're definitely battle-tested after the schedule we played early."
The Arrows are 2-4 overall, but 2-0 in the OCC.
"We control our own destiny in the conference," Seder noted.
Indeed it's true, as Ashland travels to Mansfield Senior next week in a key conference matchup.
Getting there was no easy task, as the Arrows ran into a Madison team that played its best game to date.
The Rams scored first, when Lucas Warren capped a 17-play, 65-yard march with a 5-yard TD blast in the first period.
But the Arrows responded immediately, driving 59 yards in 10 plays and knotting the game when Landon McFrederick fired a 28-yard touchdown pass to Jonathan Metzger on a 4th-and-16 play.
Neither team scored again in the first half, although both lost golden opportunities to do so.
Isaac Brooks returned the ensuing kickoff 75 yards for Madison, but the Rams (0-4, 0-2) were unable to convert and turned the ball over on downs deep in Ashland territory.
The Arrows had a short field goal just before the half, but a botched exchange on the snap foiled that chance, and it remained 7-7 at intermission.
Ashland broke loose in the third quarter, with McFrederick and Metzger hooking up again, this time on a 36-yard scoring strike. McFrederick's 14-yard touchdown toss to Cayden Spotts with 44 seconds showing in the third period proved to be the final score of the game.
McFrederick finished 14-of-22 for 155 yards and 3 TDs. Metzger had five catches for 75 yards.
"Landon did a really good job tonight," Seder said. "He protected the football on offense, and if we don't turn it over, we're going to have a chance."
Madison had a pair of turnovers, but the toughest thing for the Rams was an inability to take advantage of chances. Brooks also had a 44-yard kickoff return, and the Rams were unable to cash that in either.
Worse, Madison engineered a monstrous, 19-play, 96-yard drive in the fourth quarter but an offside penalty wiped out a 1-yard TD blast, and the Rams eventually turned the ball over on downs.
"That was an incredible drive by our offense," Madison coach Dave Stupka said. "We thought we got it in there, but we just came up short.
"I couldn't be more proud of our effort."
The Rams had more first downs (15-12) than Ashland, and twice as much rushing yardage (125-60), but a pair of turnovers and squandering chances doomed them to a fourth straight defeat.
"We (didn't get to play) two games, and we lost a week of practice, it's been tough," Stupka said after COVID-19 played havoc with the season. "But I told our guys, we're going to get over that hump, we just have to do it -- and the only way to do it is to win a game."
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