ALLIANCE, Ohio - The Benedictine University football team saw its season come to an end on Saturday, falling 47-7 to the number two team in the nation, the University of Mount Union, in the opening round of the NCAA Division III Playoffs.
Benedictine received the opening kickoff and went three and out, but the defense forced a three and out on the first possession for Mount Union as well. Battling the strong wind in the first quarter, Benedictine set up Mount Union with a short field on consecutive possessions leading to the first two scores of the game.
Jeremy Murray finished a 38-yard drive with a two-yard rushing score, his first of three on the afternoon, to put Mount Union ahead 7-0 with 6:15 to play in the opening quarter. Murray's second score came with 1:18 remaining in the quarter, a three-yard dive, extending the margin to 14-0.
The host Purple Raiders continued to convert on third downs, extending their drive to start the second quarter and eventually resulting in a two-yard touchdown from Blair Skilliter which padded the lead to 20-0 with 12:10 left in the opening half.
John Borsellino ripped off a 52-yard run to set up Benedictine inside the Mount Union redzone, but the drive stalled when quarterback Matt Brown was sacked on fourth down at the 15. The 52-yard run was the longest of the year against Mount Union. Driving in the final minute of the half, Brown was picked off by Arthur Smith, who returned the interception 44 yards for a touchdown to stretch the advantage to 27-0 in a momentum changing play.
Murray fumbled on the second play of the second half and Andrew Taylor dove on top for the only Mount Union turnover. Benedictine used the turnover to create points, embarking on a 10-play 51-yard drive converting on two third downs and a fourth down to score their lone touchdown. Brown found Brandin Austin in the corner of the endzone for a three-yard score to pull within 27-7.
The Purple Raiders immediately answered with an eight-play drive, but missed the extra point as Benedictine outscored Mount Union 7-6 in the third quarter. Rushing touchdowns on both fourth quarter drives sealed the win for Mount Union.
In the defeat, Ben Lockton tied the single season school record for tackles for loss. Lockton made 23 stops behind the line this year. Benedictine became just the fourth team to run for 100 yards in a game against Mount Union, totaling 112 yards rushing. Borsellino ran for 79 yards on 15 carries while Austin snagged five passes for 45 yards. Borsellino also caught a 24-yard pass and amassed 149 yards on kickoff returns with five kick returns over 20 yards and a long of 33. The 79 yards rushing matched the most by an individual against Mount Union this year.
Mount Union (11-0), winners of 10 national titles, has won 57 consecutive games at home and outside of the neutral site National Championship game, has hosted 48 consecutive playoff games. The Purple Raiders will meet Centre College next week.
Benedictine's record setting season ends in the opening round of the playoffs for the second consecutive year. The Eagles, who are the first team in Northern Athletics Conference history to qualify for the playoffs in consecutive years (The first two appearances in school history), completed the season 7-4.