Football: #1 Mount Union Opens Vince Kehres Era With 30-27 Win Over #19 Franklin

Kevin Burke (Photo by JT Higgins)
Kevin Burke (Photo by JT Higgins)

ALLIANCE, Ohio -- No. 1 ranked Mount Union survived a second half rally and scored the go ahead touchdown with 4:17 left in the game to beat No. 19 ranked Franklin, 30-27 in the season opener at Mount Union Stadium in Alliance.

It was the 26th straight season opening victory for the Purple Raiders but first for new head coach Vince Kehres, who took over after his father Larry stepped down in May after 27 seasons on the job.

Mount Union also extended win streaks with its 74th straight regular season win and 68th straight home victory.

Junior quarterback Kevin Burke (Westlake/Lakewood St. Edward) led the Purple Raider offense with 266 yards passing and 72 yards rushing on nine carries.  Burke tossed a touchdown pass to Jack Nicholls (Galion/Galion) as the senior had a career-high 109 yards receiving on eight receptions.

Franklin quarterback Jonny West threw two touchdown passes on 203 yards passing while Zach Cole had 72 yards receiving and Grant Welp rushed for 62 yards on 11 carries.

Mount Union had a 20-0 halftime lead as the Purple Raiders scored on a 38-yard interception return from Joshua Scott (Hamilton/Fairfield), a failed two-point conversion, a one-yard touchdown run from Germany Woods (Cleveland/Lakewood St. Edward) and a Nicholls five-yard touchdown catch from Burke.

A Mount Union turnover to start the second half gave Franklin the ball inside the Purple Raider 10-yard line.  Three plays later, the Grizzlies scored on a Joey Pasquale two-yard touchdown run to make the score 20-7.

On the ensuing drive, the Raiders would drive 78 yards on 12 plays but had to settle for an 18-yard Edward Ruhnke (Bayville, N.J./Central Regional).

Franklin would then score 21 unanswered points on as Cole and West would hook up on a 15-yard touchdown pass, West would hit Jonny Hession from 34 yards out and a Sam Otley one-yard run with seven minutes to play that gave the Grizzlies their first lead of the game, 27-23.

Burke then engineered a 7-play, 79-yard drive that included a 31-yard scamper from him and a 22-yard completion to Sherman Wilkinson (Kettering/Fairmont) to get the ball to the Franklin one-yard line.  Mason Minnich (Greenwich/Crestview) then scored the go ahead touchdown with 4:17 to play.

Franklin went three and out on the next drive that turned on a 13-yard sack from Raider defender Ted Rosalva (Boynton Beach, Fla./American Heritage).

The Raiders got the ball back and ran out the clock.

Mount Union is off next week before opening Ohio Athletic Conference play Saturday, Sept. 21 at 1:30 pm at Muskingum in New Concord.