ALLIANCE, Ohio -- No. 1 ranked Mount Union ran out to a 28-13 halftime lead then battled the wind and snow along with Washington & Jefferson in a 34-20 victory Saturday in the first round of the NCAA Division III Football Playoffs at Mount Union Stadium.
Mount Union (11-0) extends the nation's longest winning streak to 26 games and advances to the second round against Wittenberg -- a 57-19 winner over Lebanon Valley (Pa.) next Saturday at noon at a location to be announced Sunday.
The Purple Raiders grinded out 302 rushing yards as freshman running back Bradley Mitchell (St. Clair Shores, Mich./South Lake) had a career-best 31 carries for 181 yards with a touchdown.
Mount Union junior quarterback Kevin Burke (Westlake/Lakewood St. Edward) tossed four touchdown passes all in the first half. Three of those touchdown passes went to senior wide receiver Sherman Wilkinson (Kettering/Fairmont), who had a career-high seven catches for 130 yards. Luc Meacham (Toledo/Toledo Central Catholic) caught the other touchdown pass.
The Raider defense, ranked No. 2 in the nation, held the Presidents to 283 total yards as sophomore Tom Lally (Westlake/Lakewood St. Edward) had a career-best 11 tackles along with 2.0 sacks and 3.0 tackles for loss.
Freshman quarterback Pete Coughlin -- making just his second career start -- led Washington & Jefferson as he tossed three touchdowns going 20-of-44 for 216 yards. All three touchdowns were to senior Alex Baroffio who had 12 catches for 131 yards.
On its first possession, Mount Union drove 93 yards on 11 plays as Burke hit Meacham from four yards out to put the Raiders up 7-0.
There were two W&J punts inbetween a Mount Union fumble before the Raiders were on the move again going 79 yards on a drive finished with a 37-yard scoring pass from Burke to Wilkinson to extend the lead to 14-0.
The Presidents got on the board on the ensuing drive as Coughlin hit Baroffio from 24 yards out.
Mount Union answered as Burke hit Wilkinson from 37 yards out to put the Raiders back up 14 points, 21-7 at the end of the first quarter.
Coughlin and Baroffio got together again this time on a six-yard pass early in the second quarter as the Presidents closed to 21-13.
Burke hit Wilkinson on a 10-yard touchdown pass with a minute left in the half as Mount Union led 28-13 at the break.
A lake effect snow system blew through at halftime brining gale force winds and driving snow that quickly covered the field.
The Raiders then got the second half kickoff and chewed up nearly eight minutes with an 85 yard drive capped off by a Mitchell 16-yard run that gave Mount Union a 34-13 lead after three quarters.
A Mount Union fumble gave Washington and Jefferson the ball back on its own 18-yard line and Coughlin hit Baroffio for a final time from three yards out which closed the gap to 34-20 with seven minutes left.
Mount Union extended its home winning streak to 74 games with the win.