#2 Mount Union and #7 Wesley Return to Semifinals Saturday; Raiders Making 17th Straight Appearance
#2 Mount Union Purple Raiders (13-0, 9-0 OAC) vs.
#7 Wesley Wolverines (12-1)
Sat., Dec. 10 - 12 pm - Mount Union Stadium (Alliance, Ohio)
TV: ESPN3 / ESPN GAMEPLAN Michael Reghi (play-by-play), John Gregory (color)
LIVE STATS: http://livestats.prestosports.com/mountunion
Complete Mount Union Game Notes in PDF Format: CLICK HERE
No. 2 ranked University of Mount Union hosts No. 7 ranked Wesley College in the national semifinals of the 2011 NCAA Division III Football Playoffs Saturday, Dec. 10 at Mount Union Stadium in Alliance.
The game will kickoff at noon and will be broadcast on LIVE television online on ESPN3 and also available on ESPN GamePlan pay-per-view platform. Check with your internet provider to make sure you have ESPN3 and your cable or satellite provider to order the game on ESPN GamePlan.
Mount Union (13-0) completed its sixth straight undefeated regular season to win its 23rd overall and 20th straight Ohio Athletic Conference and an automatic bid into the 32-team tournament then won its opening round game 47-7 over Benedictine (Ill.), a 30-10 second round victory over #25 Centre (Ky.) and 20-8 win against #9 Wabash (Ind.) in the quarterfinals.
The Purple Raiders are making their 23rd NCAA Tournament appearance with a 72-12 record in NCAA Playoff games. Mount Union has advanced to the Stagg Bowl (National Championship game) 14 times and have won a record 10 National Championships.
Wesley (12-1) scored a 35-28 win over Hobart (N.Y.) in the first round, a 49-34 victory against #5 Linfield (Ore.) in the second round before scoring a 27-24 win in the quarterfinals at #3 Mary Hardin-Baylor (Texas).
The Wolverines earned the lone Pool B bid to the 2011 tournament, allotted for teams competing either as an independent or in a conference not eligible for an automatic bid. Wesley is making its eighth NCAA Playoff appearance and has an 18-7 record in the playoffs and has made the semifinal round now five times over the last seven years.
MOUNT UNION FOOTBALL ON RADIO AND ONLINE
All Mount Union football games are broadcast on the radio on WDPN 1310 AM and WRMU 91.1 FM and simulcast online along with a LIVE STATS game tracker. You can also here the WRMU 91.1 FM feed on any phone by calling (330) 445-7900.
This will be the second-ever meeting between the two teams, which previously met in the semifinals of the 2009 NCAA Playoffs which Mount Union scored a 24-7 win in Alliance.
Larry Kehres (Mount Union '71) is 316-23-3 (.928) in his 26th season as head coach and is 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 22 OAC Championships, including the last 20 in a row, along with 10 of the last 18 NCAA Division III National Championships. He is a past president of the American Football Coaches Association and this past summer was the offensive coordinator for Team USA as they won the gold medal in the IFAF World Championships.
Mike Drass (Mansfield, Pa. '82) is 167-46-1 (.780) in his 19th season as head coach and 22nd year at Wesley. He has built the Wolverines into one of the nation's top NCAA Division III programs as the Wolverines are 82-10 with five NCAA semifinal appearance since 2005. An all-conference offensive lineman at Mansfield (PA), he spent four years as a high school coach and two years as an assistant at his alma mater before joining the staff at Wesley in 1989.
UP NEXT ...
The winner heads to the NCAA Division III National Championship game - The Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl in Salem, Virginia against the winner of the other semifinal between St. Thomas (Minn.) and Wisconsin-Whitewater next Friday at 7pm. The game will be broadcast nationally on ESPNU and online at ESPN3.
SCOUTING THE WOLVERINES
This will be Wesley's second trip to Stark County this year as they played NCAA Division II Walsh in October. On the trip offensive coordinator Chip Knapp's son Ben, had a serious health issue and was just moved out of intensive care this week. This event and the last few weeks have brought Wesley's players together and inspired them.
The offense centers on South Region Offensive Player of the Year -- quarterback Shane McSweeney. The senior has completed 65.3 percent of his passes this season for 2,669 yards and 31 touchdowns while throwing just six interceptions. McSweeny has been just as impressive with his feet, rushing for 712 yards on a team-high 158 carries with a team-high 12 TD's. Junior Askia Jahad also has 795 yards and 9 TD's rushing, while senior tight end Sean McAndrew is the top receiver with 35 catches, 10 for TD's, for 407 yds.
All-South Region First Team senior defensive end Chris Mayes with 20.5 tackles for loss seven sacks and three forced fumbles was lost for the season with an injury in the second round win against Linfield, but the Wolverines have many other talented players on the unit. Senior linebacker Jeff Morgan has a team-best 99 stops with seven sacks while defensive backs in senior Dakevis Howard and sophomore Leon Jones each have four interceptions.
BY THE NUMBERS
Mount Union's win-loss record since 2000
The Raiders hold the NCAA's two longest consecutive college football win streaks -- 55 from 2000-2003 and 54 from 1996-99.
Mount Union's record in the NCAA Playoffs
game regular season win streak for Mount Union dating back to a 21-14 loss to Ohio Northern in Alliance on Oct. 22, 2005.
game home winning streak for Mount Union dating back to a 21-14 loss to Ohio Northern in Alliance on Oct. 22, 2005.
consecutive regular season road victories for Mount Union dating back to a 21-18 loss at Baldwin-Wallace on Sept. 28, 1991.
Since 1996, the Raiders record when winning the turnover battle.
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 that game, the Raiders had a +1 turnover margin.
Mount Union has hosted 50-straight playoff games (not including Stagg Bowl that is played at a neutral site) dating back to a national semifinal vs. Wis.-LaCrosse in 1996 at Camp Randall Stadium in Madison, which the Raiders won 39-21.
For the seventh 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 25 conference champions, one spot is reserved for teams that are independents or in conferences not granted automatic bids and the final six spots are national at-large bids.
Each team is allowed to dress 52 players for a game. Six additional players can go through warm-ups but must be in street clothes and a jersey during the game.
THE RAIDERS in 2011
Mount Union returned 16 starters and 48 letterwinners in 2011.
300 WIN CLUB
With a 49-0 win over St. Lawrence in the first round of the 2010 NCAA Playoffs, Larry Kehres became the 11th coach in college football history to win at least 300 games. Here is a list of the others.
- 483 John Gagliardi * (Carroll, MT, St. John's, MN)
- 409 Joe Paterno (Penn State)
- 408 Eddie Robinson (Grambling 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)
- 316 Larry Kehres * (Mount Union)
- 314 Roy Kidd (Eastern Kentucky)
- 314 Amos Alonzo Stagg (Springfield, Chicago, Pacific)
- 305 Frosty Westering (Parsons, Lea, Pacific Lutheran)
- 300 Tubby Raymond (Delaware)
DRISKILL NAMED NORTH REGION DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Junior safety Nick Driskill (Wabash, Ind./Southwood) was named D3football.com North Region Defensive Player of Year as one of the leaders of the nation's No. 1 rated defense. The OAC's Defensive Back of the Year, has a team-high 92 tackles and last week he had a sack, forced fumble, a fumble recovery and blocked a kick. Driskill, who also has a 3.69 gpa as a Biology major, is an Academic All-OAC, Academic All-District selection and is a nominee for the Capital One Academic All-American team.
THE BACK MAKES A COMEBACK
Junior running back Jeremy Murray (Martins Ferry/Martins Ferry) had 152 rushing yards and two TD's for his ninth 100-yard rushing performance this season and 16th of his career. In 27 career games, Murray has 3,167 yards on 579 attempts with 41 TD's. He is in fifth on the school's all-time rushing list and is 128 yards behind fourth place spot of Russ Kring (3,295 yds. 1983-84, 86-87).
DIEUSEUL KEEPS HIS FOOT ON THE GAS
Junior defensive end Charles Dieuseul (pronounced Diesel) (Winter Haven, Fla./Lake Region), the OAC's Defensive Lineman of the Year, was named to the All-North Region First Team as he is second on the team in tackles 70 along with a team-high 18.5 tackles for loss, 9.0 sacks and three forced fumbles.
Junior tackle Antonio Tate (Cleveland/Villa Angela St. Joseph) and senior center/guard Brett Ekkens both earned All-North Region First Team honors. The duo were part of an offensive line that is rated No. 16 in the nation and blocking for the nation's No. 20 rusher Jeremy Murray (Martins Ferry/Martins Ferry).
FERRARA AND COLLINS NAMED ALL-NORTH REGION
Senior defensive back Alex Ferrara (Independence/Walsh Jesuit) and junior wide receiver Jasper Collins (Geneva, N.Y./Geneva) were both named to the All-North Region Third team. Ferrara has started all 13 games with two interceptions, a forced fumble and a blocked kick while Collins leads the team with 49 catches for 637 yards with 10 TD's in just nine games this season.
DID YOU KNOW?
Larry Kehres is in his 26th season as head coach and 37th year working at Mount Union as he spent 10 seasons (1975-84) as an assistant to Ken Wable then in 1985 worked only as director of athletics before adding head football coach in 1986. You might not know, he was also the first swimming coach at Mount Union. If you include his four years as a quarterback with the Raiders (1967-70), the 1971 Mount Union grad has spent 41 years as a student-athlete, assistant coach, head coach, teacher and administrator.
Mount Union claimed its 23rd OAC Football title this season. The Raiders won their first title in 1985, Ken Wable's last year as head coach, their second in 1986 in Larry Kehres' first year as head coach. Mount Union next won the 1990 title then started a run of 20-straight starting in 1992.
Nine of 12 Mount Union opponents have been held to 200 yards or less of total offense. The Raiders are No. 1 in the nation in total defense allowing 180.2 yards per game. They have only allowed 20 first half points all year and just six in the second quarter.
PURPLE RAIDERS IN THE PROs
Wide receiver Pierre Garcon was a sixth round draft pick in 2008 and is in his fourth season as a member of the Indianapolis Colts.
Cecil Shorts III was a fourth round pick this past spring and is in his rookie season with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Two Raiders in the NFL coaching ranks are Dom Capers, the defensive coordinator of Green Bay Packers and Nick Sirianni as the offensive quality control coach of the Kansas City Chiefs.
NEW TURF, NEW HOME UNIFORMS
Mount Union replaced its 10-year old AstroPlay surface with a new FieldTurf playing surface this past summer. Fans will notice that the football and soccer lines are permanent with two tones of alternating green and black end zones. The black also carries over to new Nike home purple jerseys that the Raiders will wear this season. Mount Union's newest teams -- men's and women's lacrosse will start varsity play in the spring of 2013 and their lines will be painted onto the field. New turf was put in the South end zone which moved the students and band to the North end leading to Mount Union warming up on North side and entering the stadium from the Northwest corner of stadium.