December 13, 2010

GAME PREVIEW - #2 Mount Union and #1 UW-Whitewater Meet in Stagg Bowl ... Again

2010 University of Mount Union Football - Stagg Bowl
#2 Mount Union Purple Raiders (14-0) vs
#1 UW-Whitewater Warhawks (14-0)
Saturday, Dec. 18, 2010 - 3:30 pm
Salem Stadium (Salem, Va.)

TV:
ESPNU, ESPNU HD

RADIO:
WDPN 1310 AM (Alliance), WFUN 970AM (Ashtabula), WANR 1570AM (Warren/Youngstown):
LISTEN LIVE 

WRMU 91.1 FM (Alliance): 
LISTEN LIVE

LIVE STATS: Click Here 

Complete Mount Union Game Notes in PDF Format: CLICK HERE

UW-WHITEWATER: Roster | Schedule | Statistics | Staff

THE GAME

No. 2 ranked Mount Union and No. 1 ranked Wisconsin-Whitewater will meet for a sixth consecutive season in the NCAA Division III National Championship game -- the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl -- Saturday, Dec. 18 at 3:30 pm in Salem, Virginia. The game will be broadcast LIVE on television on ESPNU, ESPNU HD and locally on the radio on WDPN 1310AM and WRMU 91.1FM (Alliance), WFUN 970AM (Ashtabula) and WANR 1570AM (Warren/Youngstown).

It will be the 14th Stagg Bowl visit for the Purple Raiders who have won the game 10 times including the 2005 (35-28), 2006 (35-16) and 2008 (31-26) games against Whitewater. Whitewater is making its sixth Stagg Bowl appearance and the Warhawks won two championships both over Mount Union in 2007 (31-21) and 2009 (38-28).

The Purple Raiders (14-0), won the Ohio Athletic Conference and its automatic bid into the playoffs. After completing its fifth straight undefeated regular season, the No. 2 ranked Purple Raiders are 12-0 overall after beating St. Lawrence, 49-0 in the first round and No. 18 ranked Delaware Valley 31-3 in the second round, Alfred (N.Y.) 37-7 in the quarterfinals and a 34-14 win over No. 14 ranked Bethel (Minn.) in the semifinals.

Wisconsin-Whitewater (14-0) earned an automatic bid by winning the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) title. The Warhawks are making their ninth playoff appearance with a 27-6 record in NCAA post-season play. Whitewater defeated No. 24 Frankin (Ind.) 52-21 in the first round, No. 12 Trine (Ind.) 45-31 in the second round, then went on the road to beat No. 5 North Central (Ill.) 20-10 in the quarterfinals and No. 3 ranked Wesley (Del.) 27-7 in the semifinals.

THE SERIES

This will be the seventh meeting between the schools with Mount Union holding a 5-2 edge in the series. The teams have met in each of the last five Stagg Bowls and also played a pair of regular season openers in 2002 and 2003 with Mount Union winning 44-21 in 2002 in Wisconsin and 40-17 in 2003 in Ohio. The Raiders are a combined 8-4 against WIAC teams (5-2 vs. UW-Whitewater, 2-2 vs. UW-LaCrosse and 1-0 vs. UW-Oshkosh).

THE COACHES

Larry Kehres (Mount Union '71) is 303-22-3 (.927) in his 25th season as head coach as one of the most successful coaches in college football history as he is one of only 11 coaches in college football history to win at least 300 games. His teams have won 21 OAC Championships, including the last 19 in a row, along with 10 of the last 17 NCAA Division III National Championships. This year he is president of the American Football Coaches Association.

Lance Leipold (UW-Whitewater '87) is 56-3 (.949) has gotten the Warhawks to the title game in each of his four seasons as head coach at his Alma mater. In 2007 he led the Warhawks to a WIAC and National Championship picking up AFCA Division III National Coach of the Year honors. He was a quarterback for the Warhawks and had assistant coaching stints at UW-Whitewater, Wisconsin and Nebraska-Omaha.

PLAYOFFS ... TALKING ABOUT PLAYOFFS

For the sixth year the NCAA Division III Football Championship consists of a 32-team field. For perspective, in Mount Union's first appearance in the playoffs in 1985, the field was 16 teams. This year's field breaks down like this: Automatic bids will be given to 23 conference champions, three spots are reserved for teams that are independents or in conferences not granted automatic bids and the final six spots are national at-large bids.

SCOUTING THE WARHAWKS

Wisconsin-Whitewater features a high powered offense with multiple weapons and a defense that is stout against the run and keeps opponents out of the end zone ... sound familiar. The Warhawks enter the game with the nation's best 29 game winning streak.

The offense runs through junior running back Levell Coppage has rushed for 1808 yards and 22 touchdowns rushing to earn D3Football.com West Region Offensive Player of the Year honors and WIAC Player of the Year honors. Coppage is joined in the backfield by Antwan Anderson and Booker Stanley who have combined for almost 1,500 yards and 13 TD's. Blocking for these backs is three All-WIAC First Team lineman in Robbie Ustruck, Matt Weber and Mark Gawronski. Senior wide receiver Aaron Rusch will play in his 60th game Saturday and was one of 10 semifinalists for the Gagliardi Trophy has 87 catches for 1,037 yards and 14 TD's while Adam Brandes is the other top target with 60 catches for 1,126 yards and 12 TD's. The question for the Warhawks is under center as starting quarterback Matt Blanchard, who threw for 2,132 yards, 21 TD's and just one interception on his way to All-WIAC First Team honors has been injured and missed the entire playoffs. In his place Lee Brekke has won all four playoff games and has completed 63.7-percent of his passes (58-of-91) for 722 yards, 10 TD's and four interceptions.

The defense is seventh in the nation in total defense (240.71 yards per game) and second against the run (46.71 yards per game). Leading the defense is All-WIAC First Team linebacker Lane Olson has a team-best 81.5 tackles, 5.5 sacks and 4 forced fumbles. Another All-WIAC First Teamer is defensive back Matt McCulloch who has 14 pass breakups and a team-best six interceptions. The Warhawks also have 48 sacks that are spread among 13 players with freshman lineman Loussaint Minett has 8.5 of those sacks. Also up front is Luke Hibner who has 5.0 sacks and a team-high 10.5 tackles for loss.

300

With a win in the first round of the playoffs against St. Lawrence, Larry Kehres became the 11th coach in college football to win at least 300 games.

Here is a list of the others.

478 John Gagliardi * (Carroll, MT, St. John's, MN)

408 Eddie Robinson (Grambling State)

401 Joe Paterno * (Penn State)

377 Bobby Bowden (Samford, West Virginia, Florida State)

323 Paul "Bear" Bryant (Alabama, Maryland, Kentucky, Texas A&M)

319 Pop Warner (Georgia, Carlisle, Pitt, Stanford, Temple)

314 Roy Kidd (Eastern Kentucky)

314 Amos Alonzo Stagg (Springfield, Chicago, Pacific)

305 Frosty Westering (Parsons, Lea, Pacific Lutheran)

303 Larry Kehres * (Mount Union)

300 Tubby Raymond (Delaware)

* Active

BY THE NUMBERS

153-5
Mount Union's win-loss record since 2000

55, 54
The Raiders hold the NCAA's two longest consecutive college football win streaks -- 55 from 2000-2003 and 54 from 1996-99

69-11
Mount Union's record in the NCAA Playoffs

108-0
Since 1996, the Raiders record when winning the turnover battle.

153-1
The Raiders record since 1990 when winning the turnover battle. That lone loss was a 20-17 loss to Wisconsin-LaCrosse in a 1995 national semifinal game in Alliance. In that game, the Raiders had a +1 turnover margin.

THE LONG AND THE SHORTS OF IT

All-American senior wide receiver Cecil Shorts III (Cleveland/Collinwood) had the longest catch of his career Saturday when he hauled down an 80-yard touchdown catch against Bethel. Shorts finished with a season-high 165 yards receiving to give him 1,106 yards (63 catches) on the season and his third-straight 1,000-yard receiving season. He has scored 14 touchdowns over the last five weeks after being out for a month -- an 80 yd. kickoff return, a 54 yd. punt return, 11 receiving TD's and a rushing TD. Last year in the Stagg Bowl, Shorts had 10 catches for 185 yards and 2 TD's. In the 2008 Stagg Bowl, he had 7 catches for 178 yards and 2 TD's. The two receiving touchdowns in a game tie a Stagg Bowl record. He has a school-record 252 catches for 4,615 yards with 62 TD's in 54 career games.

(NOTE: Prior to 2002, playoff games did not count in NCAA statistics, if those stats counted Adam Marino (1997-2000) would have 272 rec. for 4,704 yds with 52 TD's).

DOIN' IT WITH DEFENSE

Mount Union has the nation's top rated defense (196.57 yards per game). The Raiders are also No. 1 in pass efficiency defense (78.7) and scoring defense (7.36), second in sacks (48.0) and No. 9 against the run (72.36 yards per game).

THE ENDS JUSTIFY THE MEANS

Senior defensive end Lambert Budzinski (Canton/Massillon Jackson) leads the team in tackles with 101 (24.5 for loss) and is second in the nation with a school-record 17.5 sacks. He is 1.5 tackles for loss from the school single-season mark of 26.0 by James Herbert in 2008. The other defensive end is sophomore Charles Dieusuel (Winter Haven, Fla./Lake Region) who is right behind Budzinski with 9.0 sacks and third on the team with 72 stops (16.5 for loss).

NICK THE QUICK

Sophomore safety Nick Driskill (Wabash, Ind./Southwood) had a career-high 13 tackles including three key tackles for loss early in the game against Bethel. On the season, Driskill has three defensive touchdowns (2 INT's, 1 fumble) along with a team-best five interceptions.

MURRAY MAKES HIS WAY INTO RECORD BOOK

Sophomore running back Jeremy Murray (Martins Ferry/Martins Ferry) had 19 carries for 66 yards against Bethel to take him over 300 carries for the season. He has seven 100-yard rushing game this season and now has 302 carries for 1,591 yards on the season which is the fifth-best single-season yardage total in school history. The 302 carries are the most for a back in a season since former player and current Raider running back coach Nate Kmic had 377 carries in 2008.

UNDER CENTER

Sophomore quarterback Neal Seaman (Louisville/Louisville) came off the bench in every game but the Stagg Bowl a year ago and this season has started every game and has completed 67.2-percent of his passes for 3,190 yards with 28 TD's and 10 INT's on his way to All-OAC honorable mention honors. Seaman was injured on the first series of the Bethel game and backup QB Matt Piloto (Rotonda West, Fla./Lemon Bay) threw for 335 yards and 4 TD's. Piloto was a redshirt at South Florida in 2007, did not play in 2008 and played on the JV team at Mount Union in 2009 and part of this season.

PURPLE RAIDERS IN THE PROs

Former Mount Union wide receiver Pierre Garcon, in his 3rd season with the NFL's Indianapolis Colts, had a 6 catches for 93 yards and 2 TD's in the Colts 30-28 win over the Tennessee Titans last week. Garcon started 16 games in 2009 including Super Bowl XLIV where he caught one of his six touchdowns on the season. Against the NY Jets in the AFC Championship game, he had 11 catches for 151 yards and his post-game celebration that included waiving a Haiti flag (birthplace of his parents) made national news headlines as he was bringing awareness to the nation that was ravaged by an earthquake just days before the game. This past off-season he returned to Mount Union and completed his bachelor's degree in communications. He had 3,363 yards and 47 touchdowns receiving in three seasons at Mount Union. He played his freshman season at Norwich (Vt.) and in 2008 the Colts drafted him in the sixth round (208 overall)

Nick Sirianni '03 is in his second season as an assistant coach (offensive quality control) with the Kansas City Chiefs ... Mount Union alum Dom Capers '72, a teammate of head coach Larry Kehres, is the defense coordinator for a Green Bay Packers.

KEHRES NAMED AFCA REGIONAL COACH OF THE YEAR

Larry Kehres was named American Football Coaches Association Regional Coach of the Year for a record 15th time.

Kehres has led the Purple Raiders to their 19th straight and 22nd overall OAC championship and a 16th straight appearance in the NCAA Playoff semifinals. He also became the 11th coach in college football history to win 300 career games this season and is currently 302-22-3 in his 25th season as head coach.

It was also a record for consecutive regional coach of the year honors (5) and Mount Union as a school now has a record 16 selections (Ken Wable 1, Larry Kehres 15).

Kehres is also the current president of the AFCA.

WRMU 91.1 FM

Mount Union's student radio station WRMU 91.1 FM will be broadcasting LIVE from Friday's alumni reception and the game on Saturday. Jesse Meade, Billy Hassinger and Vincent Galluci on any phone by calling (330) 445-7900.

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