Division-III Football Playoffs: Mount Union University vs. Adrian College
Match-up: On Saturday at noon Eastern Time the Mount Union Purple Raiders (Ohio Athletic Conference, 10-0, 9-0) will welcome the Adrian Bulldogs (Michigan Intecollegiate Athletic Association, 8-2, 5-1) to Alliance, OH for their first round matchup in the Division-III football playoffs. Mount Union enters the contest as the No. 3 team in the latest D3Football poll, where they received four first-place votes. Adrian has won five of their last six games.
Coaches: Jim Deere is in his fifth season as the Adrian College Bulldogs head coach. Deere has a career mark of 36-15 and led the team to their winningest season in school history in 2012 when they went 9-2. This is his first trip to the playoffs as head coach.
Vince Kehres is in his second year as the head coach at Mount Union, and has quickly established himself as one of the best in the country. Last season the Purple Raiders went 14-1, and this year they are 10-0, including an impressive 31-24 win over John Carroll last week to win the OAC title. Last season he led the team to the national championship game where they lost a hard fought battle with UW-Whitewater.In fact, He has been in the championship game in each of his two season as head coach, winning in 2012, and the Purple Raiders have been in the last nine title games.
On offense the Adrian Bulldogs are led by freshman running back Emmanuel Stewart. The freshman has a lot of flash and his 6.4 yards per carry average shows that he can run with the best of them, but he is just 5-8, 175 pounds, and the team has been careful to ensure that he did not take too much of a pounding during the season, keeping his carries at just 151. He did finish with 969 yards and 11 touchdowns. Senior Dae’Von Robinson will also get plenty of carries. He was second on the team with 641 yards and a touchdown.
At quarterback Adrian is led by Aaron Tenney. He passed for 1704 yards and 13 touchdowns, but is not a very accurate passer with a 46.7 completion percentage and 12 interceptions in 240 attempts.
While four receivers finished in double digits in receptions, only one had any kind of a big season, senior Nathan Hartline. Hartline finished with 52 receptions, 20 more than the total of the next three receivers combined. He had 934 yards receiving and nine touchdowns. Tenney will zero-in on Hartline, and this has led to his low completion percentage and high number of interceptions.
Senior free safety Charles Fleck leads the defense with 71 tackles and 5 interceptions. He also forced two fumbles and recovered three others. He is just relentless in his pursuit of the ball, and reads plays well to get into position to make tackles and interceptions. Teams must account for him when making their schemes or they pay dearly for failing to do so.
The front seven of the Bulldogs is quite stout, led by freshman defensive lineman Damon Fuller, who led the team with 11 sacks. He also recovered two fumbles and made 17.5 tackles for a loss. Jack Carter lines up along Fuller and the two make a formidable combo up front. Carter finished with 8 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss. The two combined for 105 tackles.
As a group the Bulldogs defense finished with 31 sacks, 14 fumble recoveries and 11 interceptions. Senior cornerback Ellis Ewing had three picks.
If you want to know how good the Mount Union Purple Raiders offense is all you need to do is look at one number: 60.8. If you want to know how good their defense is, then just look at this number: 7.8. 60.8 is the average number of points the Purple Raiders scored this season, and 7.8 is the average number of points they gave up. Those are absolutely absurd numbers that give a clear idea of how good this team is.
On offense, senior Kevin Burke had an outstanding season. The quarterback threw for 2689 yards and 28 touchdowns, with only 3 interceptions in 258 attempts. Burke is careful with the ball and very accurate, completing 65.1 percent of his passes. Burke also gained 382 yards on the ground with 8 touchdowns, and a 5.4 average.
At the running back position, sophomore Bradley Mitchell was the leader with 1009 yards and 18 touchdowns, but he is not alone. Three other backs recorded at least 335 yards rushing. Junior Logan Nemeth gained 519 yards and 5 touchdowns, junior Brandon Williams rushed for 411 yards and 8 touchdowns, and freshman Jamal Johnson gained 335 yards on the ground and five scores. He also had a gaudy 8.8 per carry average to lead the team.
At the wide receiver position, Taurice Scott and Toman Namdar led the team in receptions. Both are juniors and are giving a clear implication that Mount Union is going to be dangerous for a long-time to come. Scott has 51 receptions for 758 yards and 8 touchdowns. Namdar finished with 43 catches for 832 yards, 12 touchdowns and a ridiculous 19.3 yards per catch average. Scott has also returned a kickoff for a touchdown.
No player on Mount Union has a particularly large amount of tackles and that is with good reason. They score quickly and so the team can play a lot of their bench without any drop off. Safety Alex Kocheff is the leader of this group, leading the team with 43 tackles, and adds 4 sacks, 3 forced fumbles and 3 interceptions. Kocheff is everywhere and can be utilized in a wide variety of ways. In the game against John Carroll last weekend he had 7 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble that he recovered. He must be accounted for on every play or he will wreak havoc.
Mike Furda is the leading sack master on the team with 5, and he also had 10.5 tackles for a loss. Leshawn Luke had 4 interceptions to lead the Purple Raiders, and Tom Lally led the squad with 16 tackles for a loss.
As a unit Mount Union finished with 28 sacks, 13 fumble recoveries and 13 interceptions. Those aren’t huge numbers, but when the defense is on the field for only about 45 plays a game, the numbers are not going to be very big. Three-n-out is the standard for this defense.
Adrian: 394.9 yards per game. 30.6 points per game
Mount Union: 597.0 yards per game, 7.8 points per game
Adrian: 324.1 yards per game, 19.8 points allowed per game
Mount Union: 199.3 yards per game, 13.7 points allowed per game
Outlook: No sense trying to be diplomatic about this. Adrian has a good football team, and they are very well coached; they are just unfortunate enough to playing against a juggernaut. Mount Union is going to be very tough to beat going forward, and it is surprising that they were not ranked No. 1 entering the playoffs. The Purple Raiders have been in the last nine championship games. No reason to this year will be any different. Mount Union rolls 42-14.
Tomorrow’s Previews on the Minor League Sports Report will look at:
Wisconsin-Whitewater vs. Macalester
Wabash vs. Franklin
St. John’s vs. St. Scholastica
Warburg vs. St. Thomas
By Robert Pannier