/playoffs/2012/theres-a-big-d-in-mount-union-nick-driskill

There's a big D in Driskill

More news about: Mount Union
Nick Driskill has been playing at a high level in the playoffs as well for Mount Union, with an interception against Johns Hopkins and two punt blocks vs. Widener.
Photo by Dan Poel, d3photography.com

By Brian Lester
D3sports.com

Nick Driskill has been making plays all season for the Mount Union defense, hardly a surprise for a player who was recently named North Region Defensive Player of the Year for the second year in a row and was one of the ten finalists for the Gagliardi Trophy, which goes to the top all-around student-athlete in D-III football.

The senior defensive back made a few more plays on Saturday, most notably on special teams. He blocked two punts in a momentum-swinging second quarter in the national quarterfinal against Widener, including one that he recovered in the end zone for a touchdown. The other set the stage for an eight-play scoring drive.

The top-ranked Purple Raiders went into the second quarter with a 7-3 lead. They ended it with a commanding 37-3 advantage and would go on to crush Widener, the team with the No. 4 scoring offense in the nation, 72-17.

And while Driskill was the one who was credited with the blocks, he won't hog the spotlight on the plays.

"I can't take all of the credit," Driskill said. "Charles (Dieuseul) was the one who allowed me to run free and get the blocks. I owe him a steak or two for that."

Dinner will come later. For now, Driskill and the Purple Raiders are focused on continuing their march toward a national championship.

In the win against Widener, Driskill racked up four tackles and has 71 on the season. He has 13.5 tackles for a loss, three sacks, has picked off two passes, forced two fumbles and recovered a fumble.

He helped Mount Union shut down the Widener running game, holding it to minus-29 yards. The Purple Raiders gave up just 293 yards of total offense as they inched closer to ending a three-year national title drought.

Putting the D in defense

Safety Nick Driskill and linebacker Charles Dieuseul help anchor the back seven for the Mount Union defense, especially in the postseason:

Name Tkl-solo TFL sack int/ff blk pbu
Driskill 71-46 13.5 3 2/2 2 8
Postseason 15-7 0.5 0 1/0 2 2
Dieuseul 71-42 10.5 4.5 3/1 0 2
Postseason 22-16 5.5 2 1/0 0 1

"Each week we work on getting better and I thought we took another step last weekend," Driskill said. "We were able to make plays against a very good team and hopefully we can play even better this week."

The success Driskill has enjoyed this season isn’t by accident. The 2011 D3football.com Defensive Player of the Year and 2012 Capital One Academic All-American of the Year has worked hard to get to where he is today as an athlete and in the classroom. He also benefits from having solid football instincts.

“He reacts very quickly to what he sees with his quickness and he puts himself in position to finish plays,” Mount Union defensive coordinator Vince Kehres said. “Nick has a tremendous work ethic and has worked hard each offseason to make himself better as an athlete. His results on the agility, strength and jumping tests we measure in the offseason are always among the best on the team.”

Driskill said his success is linked to the fact that he spends a lot of time in the film room and he never allows himself to be satisfied with his performance.

"I know I'm never going to play a perfect game, and I am very hard on myself. It's hard for me to walk away from a game feeling completely happy with my play," Driskill said. "I study a lot of film and work hard on the field. I also go into every game as focused as possible."

Driskill is one piece of a defensive unit that has dominated the competition, and even dominated might not be the word that does the Purple Raiders’ defense justice.

Mount Union is giving up 174.6 yards per game and had a six-week stretch during the regular season in which it did not give up a point. The most points allowed this season is 17. That has happened twice. Eight teams have scored seven points or less.

Charles Dieuseul, who moved from defensive line after last season, has had a fantastic season at linebacker for Mount Union.
Photo by Dan Poel, d3photography.com

Dieuseul, a senior linebacker, has been huge to that success, racking up 71 tackles. He has also picked off three passes.

Freshman linebacker Hank Spencer has tallied 48 tackles and has recorded two interceptions while sophomore defensive lineman Ted Rosalva has come through with 45 tackles and five sacks.

Senior defensive back Isaiah Scott (45 tackles), senior defensive lineman Frank Orteca (43 tackles) and junior defensive lineman Matt Fechko (42 tackles) have also played key roles for the Purple Raiders, who are allowing 39.1 yards per game on the ground and 135.8 through the air.

So what has been the key to the success of the defense? Driskill said he and his teammates set high expectations for themselves before the season began.

"We went back and looked at the defensive stats of the 2006 team here. They were one of the best teams in program history," Driskill said. "We also looked at the defensive stats of Alabama from last year. We wanted to be as good as those teams. We set the expectations high."

The Purple Raiders will be aiming high again this week as they take on Mary-Hardin Baylor, the No. 2 team in the nation, in a national semifinal at Mount Union Stadium.

The Crusaders won the American Southwest Conference title and are 13-0.  Quarterback LiDarral Bailey has thrown for 2,529 yards and 30 touchdowns while rushing for 937 yards and 13 scores.

Like the Purple Raiders, Mary Hardin-Baylor also has a stellar defense. The Crusaders have racked up 36 sacks and have forced 40 turnovers, putting them plus-19 in the turnover margin.

Yet, Mount Union is confident its defense will rise to the occasion just as it has so many times before as it takes aim at advancing to the Stagg Bowl and having a shot to win its first national title since 2008.

“We have been able to have a good year because of our overall quickness as a defense,” Kehres said. “Our ability to get off blocks and tackle as a unit and our ability to play smart has also been big. We react quickly because our players are focused in practices and meetings on their keys and assignments as well as our opponents’ tendencies. That is a credit to our seniors and captains who lead by example.”

Driskill has been one of those leaders and he is hoping to end his career with a title.

"We don't want to be a senior class that doesn't win a championship," Driskill said. "All of us came to Mount Union to win one. We are playing a good opponent this week, but if we play our game, we'll have a chance to move on."

Sep. 23: All times Eastern
Final
at Framingham State 50, Massachusetts Maritime 7
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Muhlenberg 56, at Juniata 40
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at Dean 25, Becker 10
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Salisbury 27, at TCNJ 7
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MIT 38, at Catholic 21
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Merchant Marine 56, at Maine Maritime 31
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at Hobart 34, Endicott 17
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at Morrisville State 44, Nichols 22
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at Delaware Valley 27, Stevenson 7
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at Albright 9, Widener 7
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Christopher Newport 16, at Montclair State 8
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at Westminster (Pa.) 41, Bethany 14
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Middlebury 41, at Bowdoin 14
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Williams 24, at Colby 7
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Amherst 36, at Hamilton 6
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Ursinus 35, at Moravian 17
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Trinity (Conn.) 51, at Bates 0
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at LaGrange 38, Brevard 28
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Geneva 33, at Thiel 24
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at Plymouth State 37, Mass-Dartmouth 7
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Kean 28, at Southern Virginia 14
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Frostburg State 24, at Rowan 10
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Union 17, at Curry 14
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at Carnegie Mellon 37, Thomas More 17
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Lycoming 44, at King's 41
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at Western New England 21, Husson 14
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Johns Hopkins 41, at Dickinson 10
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at DePauw 51, Wooster 24
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at Ohio Wesleyan 37, Allegheny 21
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at Misericordia 43, Wilkes 14
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at Alfred 45, Rochester 7
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Wesley 66, at William Paterson 0
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at N.C. Wesleyan 35, Maryville (Tenn.) 25
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Huntingdon 31, at Ferrum 28
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at McDaniel 27, Gettysburg 20
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at Buffalo State 33, RPI 21
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Franklin and Marshall 27, at Susquehanna 24
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at Denison 45, Oberlin 17
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at Northwestern (Minn.) 10, Westminster (Mo.) 7
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at Eureka 44, Crown 20
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at Lebanon Valley 24, FDU-Florham 14
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at Heidelberg 47, John Carroll 21
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at Ohio Northern 35, Otterbein 7
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at Mount Union 55, Baldwin Wallace 7
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at Rose-Hulman 37, Defiance 14
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at Marietta 49, Muskingum 25
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Franklin 59, at Bluffton 30
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at Hanover 64, Anderson 21
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Mount St. Joseph 31, at Manchester 14
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Worcester State 34, at Westfield State 10
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Coast Guard 13, at Norwich 9
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at Fitchburg State 31, Bridgewater State 29
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Wittenberg 48, at Kenyon 11
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at Wabash 25, Hiram 21
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North Central (Ill.) 51, at Millikin 21
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at Millsaps 17, Sewanee 13
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at Rhodes 35, Birmingham-Southern 9
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at Hendrix 36, Austin 24
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at Martin Luther 34, Greenville 20
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at Trinity (Texas) 41, Chapman 35
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at Loras 73, Buena Vista 34
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at Wartburg 30, Washington U. 20
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at Gustavus Adolphus 51, Hamline 7
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Augsburg 48, at Carleton 28
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at Bethel 64, St. Olaf 7
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at Luther 21, Dubuque 17
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at Central 52, Nebraska Wesleyan 27
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Simpson 38, at Coe 33
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Wheaton (Ill.) 40, at Elmhurst 15
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St. Norbert 66, at Grinnell 13
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at Knox 13, Ripon 6
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at MacMurray 32, Iowa Wesleyan 14
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Hardin-Simmons 63, at Howard Payne 3
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Southwestern 37, at Louisiana College 34
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Monmouth 26, at Macalester 0
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at St. Thomas 20, St. John's 17
@ Target Field, Minneapolis
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at Springfield 42, WPI 10
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at Cornell 55, Beloit 36
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at Brockport 28, Utica 14
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at Hartwick 24, St. John Fisher 21
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at UW-La Crosse 41, Carroll 6
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at St. Scholastica 37, Minnesota-Morris 3
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at George Fox 44, UW-Eau Claire 0
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at Western Connecticut 37, Salve Regina 23
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at UW-Stevens Point 41, Adrian 28
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at Wesleyan 24, Tufts 17
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at Averett 35, Methodist 6
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at Berry 28, Centre 14
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at Case Western Reserve 56, Waynesburg 21
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at Grove City 24, St. Vincent 14
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at Illinois Wesleyan 18, North Park 0
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at Mary Hardin-Baylor 50, Texas Lutheran 7
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at UW-Platteville 56, Lakeland 22
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Carthage 55, at Augustana 14
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Chicago 28, at Illinois College 7
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at Sul Ross State 35, McMurry 7
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at Wilmington 37, Capital 30
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Lake Forest 42, at Lawrence 26
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at East Texas Baptist 79, Belhaven 40
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Arizona Christian 56, at Whittier 38
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Sep. 23: All times Eastern
Final
at Delaware Valley 27, Stevenson 7
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Wesley 66, at William Paterson 0
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at Alfred 45, Rochester 7
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Johns Hopkins 41, at Dickinson 10
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Frostburg State 24, at Rowan 10
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at Heidelberg 47, John Carroll 21
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at Mount Union 55, Baldwin Wallace 7
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Wittenberg 48, at Kenyon 11
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at Wabash 25, Hiram 21
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Hardin-Simmons 63, at Howard Payne 3
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North Central (Ill.) 51, at Millikin 21
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Final
Wheaton (Ill.) 40, at Elmhurst 15
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Final
at St. Thomas 20, St. John's 17
@ Target Field, Minneapolis
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Final
at Brockport 28, Utica 14
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at Case Western Reserve 56, Waynesburg 21
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at Illinois Wesleyan 18, North Park 0
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at UW-Platteville 56, Lakeland 22
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at Mary Hardin-Baylor 50, Texas Lutheran 7
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