FRANKLIN, Ind. — No. 2 ranked Mount Union joined college football's 700-win club with an impressive 45-7 win against No. 13 ranked Franklin at Stewart "Red" Faught Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Purple Raiders became the 21st program overall and second NCAA Division III team in college football history to post at least 700 victories.
Sophomore Kevin Burke (Westlake/Lakewood St. Edward) made his first career start at quarterback and completed his first eight passes en route to a 16-of-26 passing effort with 243 yards and his first career touchdown pass came to senior Shannon Stewart, who hauled in the 32-yarder against triple coverage in the end zone. Burke also rushed for 51 yards and had a 22-yard touchdown run in the third quarter negated due to a holding penalty.
Burke's top target was senior Chris Denton (Plantation, Fla./South Plantation) who had a game-high seven catches for 89 yards and returned two punts – each 65 yards -- for touchdowns.
Senior running back T.J. Lattimore (Maple Heights/Maple Heights) also had two scores on the ground as he had a game-high 74 yards rushing on 13 carries.
Defensively, Mount Union didn't miss a beat from last year's No. 2 ranked unit as senior linebacker Charles Dieuseul (Winter Haven, Fla./Lake Region) had eight tackles while fellow senior Isaiah Scott (Hamliton/Fairfield) had seven tackles and an interception.
Lattimore gave the Purple Raiders their first points of the season after a two-yard touchdown run with 6:42 left in the first quarter for a 7-0 lead.
The margin grew to 14-0 following Denton's 65-yard punt return at the 5:10 mark of the first. The last time punt return for a TD for the Purple Raiders came against Muskingum on Nov. 13, 2010 on a 54-yarder by current Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Cecil Shorts III.
The 14-0 lead looked to be plenty after a dominating defensive effort by the Purple Raiders. No. 13 Franklin was held to just 84 yards of total offense in the first half, including 1-of-10 on third downs.
Mount Union's offense didn't slow down in the second quarter and built a 24-0 halftime lead. Senior kicker Tyler Almeida (Elyria/Elyria) connected on a 21-yard field goal and senior running back Blair Skilliter (Curtice/Genoa) had a 3-yard touchdown run with :55 seconds remaining in the half.
Franklin avoided the shutout early in the fourth quarter on a 30-yard touchdown pass from Jonny West to Kyle Linville.
It was the first points ever scored by the Grizzlies against the Purple Raiders as Mount Union won the only other previous meeting, 20-0, in 1968.
Mount Union is off next week before the home and Ohio Athletic Conference opener against Muskingum Saturday, Sept. 15 at 7 pm at Mount Union Stadium.
Jeff Zupanic from The Alliance Review contributed to story