Junior running back Jeremy Murray (Martins Ferry/Martins Ferry) and junior wide receiver Jasper Collins (Geneva, N.Y./Geneva) had career nights to lead Mount Union, ranked No. 2 in the nation by D3football.com, to a 58-7 victory over John Carroll in the Ohio Athletic Conference opener before a sellout crowd of 6,252 at Mount Union Stadium on Saturday night.
Murray finished with career-highs of 254 yards and three touchdowns (on 20 carries) for Mount Union (2-0, 1-0 OAC). Also, junior wide receiver Jasper Collins (Geneva, N.Y./Geneva) had a career-best three touchdown catches. Collins finished with eight catches for 109 yards.
The Purple Raiders finished the game with 631 total yards, their highest total since gaining 657 yards against Wheaton (a 45-24 win) in a NCAA Division III national semifinal game on Dec. 13, 2008. It was Mount Union's best regular-season performance for total yards since a 648-yard performance against Baldwin-Wallace (a 48-3 win) on Oct. 4, 2008.
Junior quarterback Neal Seaman (Louisville/Louisville) completed 10 of 13 passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns.
Defensively, junior defensive back Nick Driskill (Wabash, Ind./Southwood) led the way with seven tackles. Senior linebacker Arthur Smith (Miami, Fla./Killian) had a tackle-for-loss, an interception and a fumble recovery.
John Carroll (0-2, 0-1 OAC) was held to 155 total yards. The Blue Streaks' lone scoring drive was a seven-play, 71-yard effort (which included a 15-yard penalty on the Mount Union defense), but they gained just 99 yards on their other 47 plays.
The Purple Raiders scored on three of their first four possessions to take a 21-0 lead in the first quarter.
Murray scored two of the touchdowns on runs of 5 and 9 yards, as the Purple Raiders took a 14-0 lead before five minutes had elapsed. The second touchdown was set up by an interception by Smith, which was returned to the John Carroll 9-yard line. Murray scored on the first play.
After a John Carroll punt, Mount Union drove 63 yards in five plays. Seaman completed all three pass attempts on the drive, including a 23-yard scoring strike to Collins, giving the Purple Raiders a 21-0 lead with 3:58 remaining in the first quarter.
John Carroll mounted its best of the early going on its next drive and found the end zone with 34 seconds remaining in the quarter. The Blue Streaks drove 71 yards in seven plays, with Sean Kuenzig scoring on a 2-yard run. Kresimir Ivkovic added the extra point to make it 21-7.
Mount Union scored the only touchdown of the second quarter on a 25-yard pass from Seaman to Collins, their second scoring hookup of the first half, with 4:37 remaining in the half.
The Purple Raiders led at halftime 28-7, gaining 377 yards on 38 plays to John Carroll's 83 yards on 29 plays.
Mount Union extended its lead in the third quarter with three touchdowns. Murray scored from 10 yards out with 12:10 remaining to make it 35-7, then after Smith's fumble recovery, junior quarterback Matt Piloto (Rotunda West, Fla./Lemon Bay) found Collins in the back of the end zone with 8:45 left for a 42-7 Mount Union lead.
The Purple Raiders extended their lead to 48-7 just 37 seconds before the end of the third quarter on a 4-yard run by junior running back Jake Simon (Parma Heights/Holy Name).
Junior defensive back Isaiah Scott (Hamilton/Fairfield) got into the scoring summary with a 49-yard interception return in the first minute of the fourth quarter.
Senior place kicker Tyler Almeida (Elyria/Elyria) finished the scoring with a 23-yard field goal with 3:24 remaining in the game, and he added the PAT following all but one of the Mount Union touchdowns.
Mount Union returns to action on September 24, hosting Wilmington (0-2, 0-1) in an Ohio Athletic Conference game at Mount Union Stadium. Kickoff is 7 p.m., and it's M Club Hall of Fame Night.