NCAA Division-III Playoffs, R. 3: Alfred vs. Mount Union
On Saturday, the No. 15 ranked Alfred Saxons will play host to No. 8 Mount Union Purple Raiders in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division-III football playoffs. The Saxons finished the season 10-0, then defeated Bridgewater State in the first round before downing Western New England last Saturday. Mount Union went 9-0 before falling to John Carroll on the last weekend of the season. They then downed Hobart in Round 1 before defeating Johns Hopkins last weekend.
Run in the Playoffs
In Round 1, the Alfred Saxons defeated Bridgewater State 33-27. Bridgewater led this game 24-17, but the Saxons mounted a big rally, getting a field goal by Joe Savignano to send the game into overtime. On the BSU possession, Danny Higgins intercepted a pass at the goal line, and Tyler Johnson then scored from 2-yards out to give Alfred the victory. Johnson threw for 176-yards and ran for another 141.
Last weekend against the Western New England, the Golden Bears took the lead on a one-yard touchdown run, but then Alfred rolled off 23 straight points. Johnson had two touchdown passes to help stake the team to a 23-7 lead. WNE battled back to make it 23-17, but Johnson’s 34-yard touchdown pass extended the lead back to 13 and the Saxons went on to win 30-24.
Johnson passed for 287-yards and 3-TDs and rushed for 63-yards. Emile Frigon had 185-yards receiving and 2-scores. The defense got 18-tackles and a sack from A.J. LiCata, and Isaiah Moak had 17-tackles.
Mount Union hosted Hobart in the first round. They scored two first quarter touchdowns to take a 14-0 lead and led 21-7 following Jawanza Evans-Morris’ second touchdown of the game. Hobart would battle back to tie the score, but 17-unanswered points by the Purple Raiders closed out the 38-21 victory. Dom Davis threw for 321-yards, and B.J. Mitchell and Evans-Morris combined for 166-yards and 4-touchdowns rushing.
Last weekend the Purple Raiders mounted an impressive comeback to down Johns Hopkins, 28-21. Mount Union scored first on a 21-yard pass from Davis to Ruth. The Blue Jays then scored three straight touchdowns. Mount Union got a 3-yard touchdown from Evans-Morris just before the half and they would trail by seven entering the break. In the third quarter Davis added a 4-yard run to tie the score, and the QB found Ruth for a 30-yard TD that was the game winner.
Mike Vidal had 3-sacks in the game.
Alfred PPG: 36.6, Rushing YDs/Game: 233.8, Passing YDs/Game: 197.4, Total YDs Game: 431.2
Mount Union PPG: 46.5, Rushing YDs/Game: 261.0, Passing YDs/Game: 241.3, Total YDs Game: 502.3
Alfred PPG: 20.1, Rushing YDs/Game: 97.3, Passing YDs/Game: 207.1, Total YDs Game: 304.4
Mount Union PPG: 11.6, Rushing YDs/Game: 69.3, Passing YDs/Game: 208.3, Total YDs Game: 277.7
Saxons Keys to Success
- Stay in the fight. Alfred has shown a lot of resilience and there is no reason why they cannot down the Purple Raiders.
- Johnson has to have the game of his life. He is that kind of talent and may be the best player on the field overall.
- A lot of defenders can get to the quarterback on the Saxons, and they need to really employ a great game plan to slow down the Mount Union offense.
Purple Raiders Keys to Success
- Get Mike Vidal involved as much as possible. He is a game changer and so they need to figure out ways to get him involved.
- Run with Bradley Mitchell until the Saxons defense is beaten down. The senior is a bruising back who can take over a game.
- The Purple Raiders were No. 1 for much of this season and with good reason. They are also the defending champions. Let your knowledge of how successful you can be lead the day.
A month ago, Mount Union seemed unstoppable. They have not looked the same since falling to John Carroll on the last week of the season. The Alfred Saxons have looked resilient and look exactly like the kind of team that Mount Union should dread facing. Look for Alfred to win this game late, 31-27.
By Robert Pannier