November 26, 2012

GAME PREVIEW - #1 Mount Union Meets #9 Widener in NCAA Football Quarterfinals Saturday

2012 University of Mount Union Football

NCAA PLAYOFFS - Quarterfinals

#1 Mount Union Purple Raiders (12-0) vs
#9 Widener University Pride
Sat., Dec. 1 - 12 pm - Mount Union Stadium (Alliance, Ohio)

  • TV: Joe Tait (play-by-play), Harry Paidas (color)
  • WIVM Ch. 39 (Tape Delay - Sat. Dec. 1 - 11 pm, Sun. Dec. 2 at 4 pm) 
  • SportsTime Ohio (Tape Delay - Sun. Dec. 2 at 5 am and 3 pm; Mon. Dec. 3 at Noon)

Complete Mount Union Game Notes in PDF Format: CLICK HERE

THE GAME

No. 1 ranked Mount Union will host No. 9 ranked Widener (Pa.) University in an NCAA Division III National Quarterfinal Playoff Game Saturday at noon at Mount Union Stadium in Alliance, Ohio.

Widener is 11-0 overall and in the tournament after winning Middle Atlantic Conference title and its automatic bid. The Pride making their 13th NCAA Playoff appearance, first since 2007, and won national titles in 1977 and 1981. Widener has a 17-10 record in the playoffs including a 44-14 win over Bridgewater State (Mass.) in the first round and a 28-7 win over No. 11 Salisbury in the second round.

The Purple Raiders are 12-0 overall and one of 24 conference champions to claim an automatic bid as Mount Union won its 21st straight and 24th overall Ohio Athletic Conference championship with a 9-0 record. Mount Union has a 75-13 record in NCAA Playoff games including a 72-14 win over Christopher Newport (Va.) in the first round and a 55-13 win over No. 15 Johns Hopkins (Md.) in the second round. The 127 combined points in two games is a Mount Union playoff record. The Raiders have advanced to the Stagg Bowl 15 times and have won a record 10 National Championships.

MOUNT UNION FOOTBALL ON TV, 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 week's game will be shown on television via tape delay on regional sports cable channel SportsTime Ohio and WIVM TV39 (Stark County), WIVN TV29 (New Philadelphia), Time Warner Cable (ch. 989-Stark County, ch. 99-Tuscarawas County), Massillion Cable (ch. 21) and Clear Picture Cable (ch. 21-Wayne County). Image Video produces the broadcasts with Harry Paidas along with hall of fame broadcaster Joe Tait. Tait spent 39 years as the radio voice of the NBA's Cleveland Cavaliers and was recently awarded the Bill Nichols Media Service Award by the Ohio Athletic Conference for his now 26 years of doing Mount Union football and basketball on radio and television.

THE SERIES

This is the second-ever meeting between the two schools. The first was a national semifinal game in 2000 at Mount Union Stadium that saw the Raiders beat Widener, 70-30. Mount Union is 4-0 against current members of the Middle Atlantic Conference with playoff wins against Widener, Lycoming (61-12, 1997 Stagg Bowl), Albright (55-3, 2009 Quarterfinals) and Delaware Valley (31-3, 2010 Second Round).

THE COACHES

Larry Kehres (Mount Union '71) is 329-24-3 (.928) in his 27th season as head coach and is one of the most successful coaches in college football history.  He is one of only 10 coaches in college football history to win at least 300 games and with the recent retirement of John Gagliardi at St. John's is the winningest active football coach in the nation. His teams have won 23 OAC Championships, including the last 21 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 was the offensive coordinator for Team USA as they won the gold medal in the IFAF World Championships in 2011.

Isaac Collins (Rochester, N.Y. '94) is 25-7 (.781) in his 3rd season as head coach at Widener.  Collins has brought the Pride back to being one of the elite programs in the nation as this year they won the Middle Atlantic Conference title and got back to the playoffs for the first time since 2007. He had assistant coaching stints at The Citadel, Delaware, Lehigh, Holy Cross, Hobart along with being in the NFL Minority Intern program with time on the Philadephia Eagles and New York Giants coaching staffs. 

UP NEXT ...
The winner of this game advances to the national semifinals against the winner of the Mary Hardin-Baylor - Wesley matchup next Saturday, Dec. 8.  The game will be broadcast LIVE on ESPN3 but time and location will be announced Sunday, Dec. 2.

SCOUTING THE PRIDE
Widener has a high powered offense and a physical defense as the Pride as the nation's No. 4 scoring offense (48.45 ppg) with the No. 14 total offense (483.73 yds/gm).  Widener is No. 3 in nation in sacks per game at 4.0 with the No. 35 total defense (297.18).

Senior quarterback Chris Haupt, who was a Gagliardi Trophy finalist a year ago, leads the offense has he has completed 65.4-percent of his passes for 3,505 yards with 36 touchdowns and 18 interceptions.  His top target is sophomore Anthony Davis with 58 catches for 1,130 yards with 16 TD's.  Haupt and Davis make for a potent 1-2 punch as -- Haupt is 8th in the nation in total offense (344 yds/gm) and Davis is 9th in all-purpose yards (186.4 yds/gm).  Sophomore Couve LaFate is an all-purpose back with 312 rushing yards on 83 carries along with 385 receiving yards on 34 catches.

The defense has 44 quarterback sacks and is anchored on each end by senior Chad Gravinese (7.0 sacks) and junior Darius Johnson (6.0 sacks).  Junior linebacker Dylan Ditmer leads the unit with 93 tackles and he has 4.5 sacks along with three forced fumbles.  Sophomore defensive back Nick Rodriguez has six interceptions.

BY THE NUMBERS

179-7

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

73

Mount Union ended the regular season on a 73-game regular season winning streak dating back to a 21-14 loss to Ohio Northern on Oct. 22, 2005

66

Mount Union has won 65 straight home games dating back to the 2005 loss to Ohio Northern.

128-0

Since 1996, the Raiders record when winning the turnover battle.

173-1

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

644

points scored by Mount Union this season which is most through 12 games since 2007 when the Raiders had 643 at this point on their way to an NCAA record 778 points scored.

10

The Raiders 10 National Championships (1993, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2008) are a record for college football teams in a playoff format. Notre Dame has the most college football titles (11) for teams playing in a non-playoff format.

55

Mount Union has hosted 55-straight playoff games dating back to 1996. The Raiders are 53-2 in those games with losses in 1999 to Rowan (N.J.) in the national semifinals and in 2004 to Mary Hardin-Baylor (Texas) in the national semifinals.

300
Larry Kehres is one of 10 coaches in college football history to win at least 300 games. Here are the others.

•489 John Gagliardi (Carroll, Mont., St. John's, Minn.)
•408 Eddie Robinson (Grambling State)
•377 Bobby Bowden (Samford, West Virginia, Florida State)
•329 Larry Kehres * (Mount Union)
•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)
•300 Tubby Raymond (Delaware)
* Active

GIMME FIVE

Senior Jasper Collins (Geneva, N.Y./Geneva) had a career day with five touchdown catches as part of a 12-catch, 228-yard performance against Johns Hopkins.  The five touchdown catches is a new Mount Union playoff record passing the four caught by Rob Atwood against St. John's in 1993, while scoring five TD's matches the playoff record that Dan Pugh had against John Carroll in 2002.

It was also the third straight week that the Raiders had a pair of recievers with 100-yard performances.  Along with Collins, Chris Denton (Plantation/South Plantation) had nine catches for 125 yards.

Collins also passed two big career milestones last week as he now has 207 catches for 3,105 yards.  The 207 catches passes the 202 of Pierre Garcon (2005-07) and trails the 259 of Cecil Shorts III (2007-10) while he is only the fifth Raider with over 3,000 career recieving yards.

DOUBLE D ON DEFENSE

The two All-Americans on Mount Union's defense -- seniors Charles Dieuseul (Winter Haven, Fla./Lake Region) and Nick Driskill (Wabash, Ind./Southwood) both sparked the defense and in turn the offense with interceptions on back-to-back snaps in the first quarter against Widener.  The Raiders turned those interceptions into 14 points and were off and running.

Dieuseul also had a pair of sacks last week which helped him set a new Mount Union career record for tackles for loss at 51.5.  The old record was 51.0 by James Herbert (2006-09) and teammate Nick Driskill is right behind them with 50.5 career tackles for loss.  
 
The duo lead a Mount Union defense that enters this week ranked No. 1 in the nation in total defense (162.25 yds/gm), scoring defense (6.00 pts/game), pass defense (119.58 yds/gm), rushing defense (42.67 yds/gm) and pass efficiency defense (75.91).  

VOTE EARLY, VOTE OFTEN - DRISKILL FOR GAGLIARDI

Senior safety Nick Driskill (Wabash, Ind./Southwood) is one of 10 finalist for the Gaglairdi Trophy given to the top all-around football player in NCAA Division III.  

The two-time OAC Outstanding Defensive Back, All-American, Academic All-American and National Football Foundation Scholar Athlete winner looks to become the sixth player from Mount Union to win the award since its inception in 1993.  Four regional finalists will be picked from the 10 to be part of the award ceremony Wednesday, Dec. 13 in Salem, Virginia.  Fans have a chance to cast a vote online at D3football.com with the collective results of the fan vote being counted as one vote in the final tally.

PASSING FANCY

Sophomore quarterback Kevin Burke (Westlake/Lakewood St. Edward) had a career-high 388 yards passing and matched a career-best with five touchdown passes against Johns Hopkins.  The 388 yards is the most in a single game for a Mount Union signal caller since Kurt Rocco threw for 406 against Heidelberg in 2009.  Burke enters this week as the nation's No. 1 rated passer with a rating of 199.76.  For the season, Burke has completed 69.2-percent of his passes for 2,902 yards with 32 TDs and five interceptions.

BRACKETOLOGY

For the 8th 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 24 conference champions, one spot is reserved for teams that are independents or in conferences not granted automatic bids and the final seven spots are national at-large bids.  Each team is allowed to only dress a total of 58 players for a game.

DID YOU KNOW?

Mount Union wide receiver Jasper Collins is the nephew of Widener head coach Isaac Collins.  Jasper spent a couple summers with his uncle when he was an assistant coach at The Citadel in South Carolina while after taking the job at Widener Coach Collins spent some time visting the coaches and seeing facilities at Mount Union.
 
PURPLE RAIDERS IN THE PROs

Wide receiver Pierre Garcon was a sixth round draft pick of the Indianapolis Colts in 2008 signed an off-season free agent deal with the Washington Redskins and had five catches for 93 yards and a touchdown in a Thanksgiving day win over the Cowboys.  Cecil Shorts III, a fourth round pick in by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2011, had four catches for 105 yards with a TD in a win over Tennessee. Kyle Miller made his NFL debut as a TE for the Indianapolis Colts, two weeks ago, was waived last Monday then signed by the Miami Dolphins. Two Raiders in the NFL coaching ranks are Dom Capers, the defensive coordinator of Green Bay Packers and Nick Sirianni as the wide receivers coach of the Kansas City Chiefs.

NEW LOCKERS/PRESS BOX PROJECT

Fans will notice some dust behind the opens stand east of the stadium as a pair of locker rooms are under construction to house Mount Union's men's and women's soccer and new men's and women's lacrosse programs. A new facade will be added to the back of the open stands and the plan is to expand and renovate the main press box will be a second phase done later. As a result of the expansion, Stadium Drive will no longer exist.

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