Athlete of the Week: Rance Ashley
November 16, 2016
UWRF senior Rance Ashley had a monster Senior Day to lead the Falcons to a huge win over the UW-Stevens Point Pointers 34-16 on Saturday.
Ashley, a senior running back from North Branch, Minnesota, carried the Falcon Football offense throughout the game in their season finale. He led UW-River Falls with 87 yards rushing on only 11 carries, good for 7.9 yards per carry. His 42-yard breakout touchdown run in the third quarter gave the Falcons a 21-10 lead over the Pointers that swung the momentum completely in UWRF’s favor. Ashley also led the Falcons with 40 receiving yards on five receptions.
The Student Voice sat down with Ashley to discuss the big upset win over Stevens Point and the end to his football career.
Q: How important was it for you personally to go out with a strong Senior Day performance?
A: It was really awesome, because we haven’t won our last game since I’ve been here. It meant a lot to get fourth place in the conference. Going out on that high note, I can’t even put into words, it’s just amazing.
Q: What kept the team motivated after getting down 10-0 in the first quarter?
A: From the previous week against Whitewater, we came in with a lot of confidence with what we can do. It was just more relaxed when we were down rather than other games when we’ve been down. We just stayed a lot more composed than in previous games.
Q: Stevens Point seemed to shut down your receivers, but what led the running backs to get more catches out of the backfield than usual?
A: I think it was game planning. We were planning to take a lot of shots to our receivers, but it didn’t really work out. But it happened to work out a lot better getting the ball to the backs and it opened up the run game more too.
Q: What led the defense to shut down Point after those two early drives?
A: Our defensive line was on fire the whole game by getting tackles for loss and sacks and they kept destroying [the Pointers] morale.
Q: What kind of confidence does that give you on offense when your defense is playing so well?
A: They bring us up because we know, even if we go three and out, we can go watch the defense. It gives motivation for us to score because they just worked so hard. It makes us want to go out and take out the other team’s momentum.
Q: What was it about playing at home this season that seemed to breed success, with the team finishing 4-1 at Ramer Field?
A: That was the weird thing about this year, our bus trips were all different until the Whitewater game. The energy and being at home led to our home field advantage.
Q: What expectations are returning for the team next year, and do you think they can make the jump from 4-6?
A: They can easily because Oshkosh, Whitewater and Platteville are all in the tournament right now and we’re right behind them by ourselves. We’re right there, but the difference was just a couple of tough losses at the beginning of the conference.
Q: Is there a specific aspect of the team’s game that needs to change in order to compete with those top teams?
A: We could be more disciplined, because we had so many penalties we could’ve prevented. It’s because we’re a much younger team than those top teams where we’re playing against juniors and seniors every week.
Q: What will you remember most about your time as a Falcon?
A: The people and all the friendships that I’ve made in the four years I’ve been here.
Q: What was the most important thing this senior class brought to the program?
A: A change of culture with how we interacted with the underclassman. It was a big change from my freshman year to how we interacted. They will be more connected and will have that family aspect to fight for each other.