Mount Union Purple Raiders Roll to Division-III Finals, 70-21
This NCAA Division-III football semifinal matchup looked to be a great matchup between the No. 3 Mount Union Purple Raiders and No. 4 Wesley Wolverines. Two great quarterbacks and a set of outstanding defenses gave the appearance that this was going to be one of the most exciting games of the day. The Purple Raiders had a different plan, however, as they rolled over the Wolverines defense on their way to a 70-21 win.
The Wesley defense stopped Mount Union on their opening drive. Then the flood gates opened. Mount Union quarterback Kevin Burke was on his game throughout the contest, and starting on the team’s second drive, he proved why he was last season’s National Player of the Year. Burke kept the ball on a quarterback keeper on the first play of the possession, rushing for 21-yards. Two plays later he passed to Luc Meacham for 19-yards, staking the Purple Raiders to a 7-0 lead.
The Mount Union quarterback led another touchdown drive on the team’s next possession. B.J. Mitchell ran for 9 yards on the opening play of the drive, and Burke then ran for 11 more on the next play to give his team a first down. Following an incomplete pass, Burke then completed four straight passes and added a 13-yard run. His last pass of the drive was a 10-yard strike to Sherman Wilkinson for a touchdown.
The Mount Union QB was on fire, and Wesley simply had no answer for him. On the Purple Raiders next possession Burke hit a wide open Tim Kennedy for 53-yards on the fifth play of the drive to make in 21-0. The next drive saw Burke find Wilkinson again, this time for a 20-yard touchdown play. It was 28-0, and the two teams had not even left the first quarter.
While the Wolverines defense was coming up empty in ways to stop the Mount Union offense, the offense for Wesley was not fairing much better. They simply could not run the ball, and Wesley quarterback Joe Callahan was not finding any open receivers. Even the punt game was struggling, as Nick Martin had several short punts and one that was blocked. By the time the first half came to an end, the Wolverines had 21 yards rushing and Callahan had three passes intercepted, including one that was returned 85-yards by Tre Jones for a touchdown. It was an absolute nightmare in every way for the visitors.
Meanwhile, the home team continued to roll on offense. B.J. Mitchell scored from 1-yard out to start the second quarter. The drive began at the Wesley 28 following an interception by Will Hiteshue.
On Wesley’s next possession, Callahan fumbled at the Mount Union 35, and it was recovered by Mike Furda to give Mount Union back the ball. The Purple Raiders looked like they would score again, but this time the Wolverines defense came up big, stopping Mount Union twice at the Wesley 8-yard line from getting the one-yard they needed for the first down. That gave the visitors back the ball after the turnover on downs. The Wolverines could not take advantage of the big defensive stop, however, and were forced to punt.
Two possessions later Mount Union was back on the scoreboard. Burke remained poised and focused, and completed a 14-yard pass to Roman Namdar and a 19-yard connection to Meacham to help move the ball to the Wesley 9. On first and goal, Burke kept the ball and run up the middle untouched for the score to make it 42-0.
Wesley’s next possession saw Callahan move the ball down the field to the Mount Union 24. It looked like they were finally having some success, but that came to a sudden halt when the Wesley quarterback’s pass to the left sideline was picked off by Jones. He read the play beautifully, and then raced down the field nearly untouched for the score. While the game was all but over long before that play, this was the final dagger. A confidence drive ended in disaster.
Mount Union would score one more time before the half. On the sixth play of the drive, the Purple Raiders quarterback hit Taurice Scott down the middle for a 22-yard touchdown. That gave Mount Union 315 yards passing and 118 rushing in the first half alone. Their 11th straight trip to the National Title game was all but locked in.
If anyone thought that Mount Union was going to take their foot off of the gas up 56-0, they were given a serious dose of reality right away. On the Purple Raiders second drive of the half, Burke connected with Scott for his second touchdown reception of the game. The 16-yarder capped off a 7-play, 51-yard drive and gave Burke is sixth touchdown in a little over two quarters of play.
One possession later Burke would have No. 7. This time the quarterback found Meacham for the second time, a 13-yard pass for a touchdown to make it 70-0.
In the fourth quarter Wesley finally got on the scoreboard. On the first play of the fourth quarter, Callahan capped off a 14-play drive with a 1-yard run for a score. Two possessions later Callahan passed to his favorite receiver, Steve Koudossou, for a 10-yard touchdown. Brandon Wright’s 1-yard touchdown run with 32 seconds left in the game closed out the scoring.
Callahan passed for 440 yards, but had four costly interceptions. He completed 39 of 69 passes; both were career highs. Jamar Baynard had 52-yards for the Wolverines, and Koudossou set career highs with 17 receptions for 256 yards.
Burke proved why he is the elite quarterback in Division-III football, going 26-41 for 415 yards and 7 TDs. He also ran eight times for 52 yards and a score. B.J. Mitchell carried the ball 12 times for 93 yards and a touchdown. Three players had two touchdown receptions: Scott (10 catches, 160 yards), Meacham (5, 76), and Wilkinson (6, 71). For the game the Purple Raiders put up 602 total yards of offense.
On defense, Mount Union recorded 5 sacks, 2 fumble recoveries, and 4 interceptions, and their special teams unit blocked a punt. Josh Butler had 6 tackles and 1.5 sacks.
Next Friday night the Mount Union Purple Raiders will be making their 11th straight trip to the Division-III Football title game. They are seeking their 12th National Championship. The Minor League Sports Report will have a preview of this game on Wednesday.
By Robert Pannier