#2 Mount Union Rolls Over John Carroll in OAC Opener, 51-7

Scott Panchik (Natrona Heights, Pa./Highlands) returned to action for the first time since the second round of last year's NCAA Playoffs.
Scott Panchik (Natrona Heights, Pa./Highlands) returned to action for the first time since the second round of last year's NCAA Playoffs.

UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS, Ohio—No. 2 ranked Mount Union scored on each of its first four possessions and forced three John Carroll turnovers in the first half as the Purple Raiders went on to a 51-7 victory in its Ohio Athletic Conference opener Saturday in Cleveland.

Sophomore quarterback Neal Seaman (Louisville/Louisville) completed 20-of-25 passes for 260 yards with three touchdown passes as he led Mount Union to a 2-0 start and the nation's best 45th consecutive regular season victory.

His top targets again were senior All-Americans in wide receiver Cecil Shorts III (Cleveland/Collinwood) and tight end Kyle Miller (Elida/Elida).  Shorts had five catches for 78 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while Miller had four catches for 66 yards and a touchdown.   

The Mount Union defense held the Blue Streaks to just 215 yards of total offense and forced six turnovers.  Senior defensive end Lambert Budzinski (Canton/Massillon Jackson) had six tackles and 2.5 sacks to lead the unit.

Mount Union running back Scott Panchik (Natrona Hts./Highlands), who returned to the field for the first time since suffering an injury in the second round of last year's NCAA Playoffs, rushed for 62 yards on a game-high 14 carries and his three yard touchdown run got Mount Union on the board midway through the first quarter.

John Carroll (0-2) fumbled the football on the very next play from scrimmage as senior linebacker Sam Kershaw (West Jefferson/West Jefferson) forced and recovered the fumble for the Raiders.

Three plays later Seaman hooked up with Shorts from 10 yards out and extended the lead to 14-0.

The Blue Streaks then made its deepest penetration into Mount Union territory and faced a fourth down play from the Raiders 34-yard line.  Michael Locke's pass was complete to Kyle Hubbard streaking toward the end zone, but he fumbled the football on the three yard line and Mount Union linebacker Arthur Smith (Miami, Fla./Killian) recovered in the end zone for a touchback.

The Raiders then grinded out a 16-play drive that was finished off when Seaman hit senior tight end Kyle Miller (Elida/Elida) for a 12-yard scoring strike, then Mount Union got the ball back again just before halftime and junior fullback Wes Ryder (Dayton/Belmont) ran it in from 17 yards out to make it 28-0 at the half.

Seaman hit Shorts on a 38-yard scoring strike on the first drive of the second half, another John Carroll fumble set up a short field and junior running back Zac Lemmon (Granville/Granville) then punched it in from two yards out gave the Raiders a 42-0 lead with 10 minutes to go in the third quarter.

Sophomore kicker Tyler Almeida (Elyria/Elyria) then kicked field goals from 34, 22 and 23 yards to send the score to 51-0.

John Carroll avoided the shutout as they forced a Mount Union fumble and a two-yard touchdown run by Devin O'Brien with 33 seconds left made the 51-7 final.

Mount Union finishes its season-opening three-game road swing next Saturday at 1:30 pm at Wilmington.