NCAA Division-III Playoffs: R. 2, Lions v. Purple Raiders
NCAA Division-III Playoffs
No. 18 Albright Lions (10-1)
No. 1 Mount Union Purple Raiders (11-0)
How They Got Here: The Albright Lions won the Middle Atlantic Conference with an impressive 8-1 record. The team’s only loss was a five-point defeat to Delaware Valley on October 24, but this team showed a great deal of resiliency to battle back and win the conference title. The Lions proved they can win the close game or completely dominate opponents. They opened the season with a win over Salisbury, who made the NCAA Division-III playoffs and in week 2 defeated Widener, the conference champions last season.
Albright opened the playoffs with a resounding 49-0 victory over the Norwich Cadets. The Lions scored 21 first quarter points on just 9-plays. Quarterback Mike Knight threw for 225-yards on just 19-attempts with 5-touchdowns. Chris Dawson ran for 103-yards and Vinny Williams caught 6-passes for 119-yards and 2 scores. On defense the Lions were led by Steve Barroso who had 8-tackles and a fumble recovery.
This quite possibly could be the best Mount Union team in a line of amazing Purple Raiders football teams. Mount Union won the Ohio Athletic Conference, going 9-0 in the conference for the 11th season in a row. In 10 regular season games the Purple Raiders allowed just 34 total points, including six shutouts. Meanwhile, the offense never scored less than 36-points in any game, and reached at least 50 eight times. This is truly a juggernaut.
In the first round of the NCAA Division-III playoffs the Mount Union Purple Raiders downed St. Lawrence 55-23. The Purple Raiders jumped out to a 41-o lead before St. Lawrence was finally able to get on the board. Logan Nemeth had two first-half touchdowns, one of eight-yards and the other of 18, then added a 39-yard scamper for a score in the third quarter. Overall he finished with 18-carries for 130-yards. QB Taurice Scott was nearly unstoppable, passing for 127-yards and 3 TDs, while rushing for 171-yards and a score on just 9-carries.
The Albright Lions are led by QB Mike Knight. He passed for 1,932-yards and 18 touchdowns, but also proved he can get the job on the ground as well, rushing for 355-yards and 4 TDs. Chris Dawson was the team’s leading rusher with 553-yards and 7-touchdowns, and he is going to need to have a big day if the Lions are going to have a shot in this contest.
Barroso is the kind of defender that every coach would love to have. He can do it all, leading his team in tackles with 71, but also intercepting 5-passes, recovering 5-fumbles and sacking the quarterback twice. Barroso always seems to be around the ball, and when he gets there he simply makes plays.
Jamal Hayden is another force on the field, leading the team with 8.5 sacks and is second in tackles with 67.
The Mount Union Purple Raiders are led by their star quarterback. Scott passed for 2,436-yards with 32-touchdowns. He showed he is incredibly accurate, completing 64.9 percent of his passes while throwing just 3-interceptions in 259-attempts. On top of that, he rushed for 705-yards and 10-touchdowns. The senior is truly an amazing talent.
For those who wish to try to focus completely on stopping Scott, running back Logan Nemeth is happy to make them pay. The senior rushed for 1,120-yards and 20 TDs, and showed he is quite a challenge to haul down, averaging 7.5 yards per carry.
On defense, senior Tom Lally is a freak. The defensive lineman led the team in tackles and also recorded 14.5 sacks. He is great at playing the run or the pass, and when a quarterback is in his sights he inflicts punishment.
Outlook: Albright looked very impressive in their first round victory, but the Mount Union Purple Raiders have a bad taste in their mouths after how last season ended. Expect them to get better with each round. Take Mount Union, 58-14.
By Robert Pannier