Football: #1 Mount Union Wins 25th OAC Title With 42-34 Win Over #9 John Carroll

Kevin Burke reaches for a score (Photo by JT Higgins)
Kevin Burke reaches for a score (Photo by JT Higgins)

ALLIANCE, Ohio -- No. 1 ranked Mount Union finished an undefeated regular season and won the Ohio Athletic Conference title with a 42-34 victory over No. 9 ranked John Carroll in front of a sellout crowd of 8,104 Saturday at Mount Union Stadium.

The Purple Raiders win their 22nd straight and 25th overall OAC title and the conference's automatic bid into the NCAA Division III Football Playoffs.  The 32-team bracket will be announced tomorrow night at 6 pm with an online webcast on NCAA.com.

Mount Union (10-0, 9-0 OAC) also extended the nation's longest winning streak to 25 games, won its 83rd consecutive regular season game and 73rd straight home game.

First year head coach Vince Kehres joins his father Larry Kehres as the only Mount Union coaches to go 10-0 in their first year on the sidelines.

"I think it gets overlooked that Mount Union is undefeated again,'' said Mount Union quarterback Kevin Burke. "But it's more than that. Coach Vince Kehres is undefeated in his first year. Coach Larry Kehres, his resume speaks for itself, but coach Vince Kehres knows football and his dad brought him up well. He knows what he's doing and he was ready for this. The fact that he's undefeated is not a surprise to us at all.

"All the players in the locker room knew this was going to happen. Whether the reporters or anyone else outside the locker room knew it, so be it. It's about Mount Union.''

In a matchup that featured NCAA Division III No. 1 (John Carroll) and No. 2 (Mount Union) ranked defenses ... it was the offense that made the day with a combined 1,100 yards of offense as the Raiders outgained the Blue Streaks, 555-545.

Mount Union junior quarterback Kevin Burke (Westlake/Lakewood St. Edward) accounted for five touchdowns as he completed 21 of 35 passes for 374 yards with three scores while rushing for two more.  

The Raiders other touchdown came from freshman running back Bradley Mitchell (St. Clair Shores, Mich./South Lake) who ran for a career high 157 yards on 20 carries.

Junior wide receiver Luc Meacham (Toledo/Toledo Central Catholic) also had a career day as he caught 10 passes for 175 yards with two touchdowns while senior Jack Nicholls (Galion/Galion) had 118 yards on eight catches.

On defense, Cody Pogorelc (St. Petersburg, Fla./St. Petersburg) had a career-best 12 tackles while Joshua Scott (Hamilton/Fairfield) and Isaiah Chambers (Bedford/Chanel) each had interceptions.

Mark Myers led the John Carroll (9-1, 8-1 OAC) offense with 451 yards passing and two scores.  His top targets were Brian Kornowski who had six catches for 152 yards and Zach Strippy, who caught two TD's on seven catches for 74 yards.

Both teams scored in the first quarter as Burke hit Meacham on a 48-yard touchdown pass while Myers tossed a six-yard scoring pass to Strippy.

John Carroll took a 10-7 lead on a 43-yard field goal from Kresimir Ivkovic with 12:32 left in the second quarter.  

Mount Union anwsered with a 75-yard march that was capped by a Mitchell six-yard TD run to give the Raiders back the lead at 14-10.

Mount Union then scored two touchdowns in the final two minutes of the first half as Burke leaped into the end zone to finish a four-yard touchdown run.  The Raiders got the ball back went 79 yards in 28 seconds in the final minute of the half as Brian Gainer (Tampa, Fla./Steinbrenner) caught a 34-yard touchdown pass from Burke to put Mount Union up 28-10.

The Blue Streaks raced down the field and got the ball to the Mount Union one-yard line before the defense held as the clock expired for halftime.

John Carroll got a 28-yard field goal from Ivkovic on its first possession of the second half to cut the margin to 28-13.

The Raiders answered again as Meacham caught a 30-yard touchdown pass from Burke with 9:35 left in the third quarter to make it 35-13.

Myers and Strippy hooked up again this time from 10 yards out and it was 35-20 Mount Union heading into the final quarter.

John Carroll closed to with eight points -- 35-27 as Michals had a four-yard touchdown run with 10 minutes to play.

Burke then took over and engineered a 75 yard drive which he finished with an eight-yard touchdown run to take the lead back out to 42-27.

The Blue Streaks came back again going 68 yards and Michals seven-yard TD run with 3:30 remaining got John Carroll in striking distance at 42-34.

Mount Union was forced to punt and Edward Ruhnke (Bayville, N.J./Central Regional) kicked a career-best 60-yarder to force John Carroll to go 82 yards to tie the game with no time outs. The Blue Streaks did get to the Raider 15-yard line before the defense held.