Mount Union rolls back into the national semifinals
|Nick Driskill blocks one of
his two punts on the afternoon.
Photo by Dan Poel, d3photography.com
ALLIANCE, Ohio – No. 1 ranked Mount Union generated 753 yards of total offense in a 72-17 rout of No. 9 ranked Widener (Pa.) in an NCAA Division III Football Quarterfinal Saturday at Mount Union Stadium in Alliance.
The Purple Raiders (13-0) advance to the national semifinals of the NCAA tournament for the 18th consecutive season and extend its home win streak to 67 games.
Mount Union plays No. 2-ranked Mary Hardin-Baylor (Texas), a 32-20 winner over No. 6 Wesley (Del.), in a national semifinal game Dec. 8 at a site and time to be determined by the NCAA.
Sophomore quarterback Kevin Burke (Westlake/Lakewood St. Edward) accounted for 495 of those 753 yards as he ran for a career-best 115 yards and three touchdowns then threw for 380 yards and two more scores in the air both to senior wide receiver Jasper Collins (Geneva, N.Y./Geneva), who had 102 yards on six catches.
The Raiders top ranked defense held Widener, the nation's No. 4 scoring offense, to a season-low 17 points and total yards (293). Mount Union held Widener to minus-29 yards rushing which was a team playoff record for fewest rushing yards allowed.
Senior Isaiah Scott (Hamilton/Fairfield) had six tackles and an interception while All-American safety Nick Driskill (Wabash, Ind./Southwood) on special teams blocked two punts in the second quarter – including one he returned for a score to spark the Raiders.
Widener (11-1) quarterback Chris Haupt threw for 322 yards on 29-of-64 passing and Philip Ragona and Anthony Davis had 102 and 106 yards passing respectively.
After going three-and-out on the opening possession of the game, Widener then recovered a Mount Union fumble on the Raiders second play from scrimmage and drove 67 yards to take a 3-0 lead on a James McFadden field goal.
Mount Union answered in 1:07 as they responded with a five-play, 64-yard drive to take the lead on a 10-yard Burke pass to Collins.
Widener then drove to the Raider 36-yard line before Haupt threw an interception which Scott picked off at the five-yard line then Burke and the Raiders engineered a 15-play, 95-yard march which Blair Skilliter (Curtice/Genoa) finished with a five-yard TD run on the second play of the second quarter to make it 10-3.
Three plays later, Driskill had his first punt block which gave Mount Union the ball on the Widener 28-yard line and eight plays later Burke ran in from four yards out to extend the lead to 16-3.
Burke and Skilliter would each find the end zone on the next two possessions and Driskill's punt block for a score put the Raiders up 37-3 at the break.
After going up 3-0, Widener was held to seven total yards of offense the remainder of the first half.
Mount Union kept its foot on the pedal in the third quarter with three more touchdowns – a 10-yard rush by Jake Simon (Parma Heights/Holy Name), a Burke eight-yard touchdown and a 36-yard passing touchdown to Collins.
Haupt threw for two scores in the frame – a two-yard strike to Ragona and a 36-yarder to Steve Marrero which made it 58-17 after three.
Simon and Mason Minnich (Greenwich/Crestview) each tacked on rushing scores in the fourth quarter for the 72-17 final.