ALLIANCE, Ohio -- #1 Mount Union ran out to an early lead then held on defeat #14/15 Wesley (Del.), 62-59 in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division III Football Playoffs Saturday at Mount Union Stadium in Alliance.
The Purple Raiders (13-0) extend the nation's longest winning streak to 28 games, won its 76th straight home game and advances to the NCAA semifinals for the 19th consecutive year. Mount Union will play #4 North Central next Saturday at a time and location to be announced Sunday by the NCAA.
Mount Union ran out to a 31-0 lead at the end of the first quarter and led 48-20 at the half but Wesley scored twice in the third quarter and got to within a field goal with 1:30 to play before the Raiders recovered an onside kick to preserve the victory.
Quarterback Kevin Burke (Westlake/Lakewood St. Edward) ran for two touchdowns and threw three touchdown passes all to Sherman Wilkinson (Kettering/Fairmont) while running back Bradley Mitchell (St. Clair Shores, Mich./South Lake) had his sixth straight 100-yard rushing performance with 134 yards on 24 carries to lead the Mount Union offense.
Wesley (10-3) quarterback Joe Callahan had a record setting day in the defeat. He set new Division III playoff records for passing yards (633), total offense (606) and passing touchdowns (8). His top wide receiver Steve Koudossou also got into the record books as his 273 receiving yards set a new playoff record.
Callahan did throw four interceptions – three in the first quarter – which Mount Union converted into 17 points. The Raiders scored on the first play from scrimmage when Mitchell ran 67 yards for a score and Luc Meacham (Toledo/Toledo Central Catholic) ran back a punt 76 yards for the other two scores in the quarter.
Wesley got on the board early in the second quarter on a four-yard pass from Callahan to Jamar Baynard to make it 38-7. The teams then each traded two touchdowns with the final one being a 78-yard pass from Callahan to Koudossou to make the score 45-20 in favor of Mount Union.
The Raiders tacked on three more points on the final play of the half on an Edward Ruhnke (Bayville, N.J./Central Regional) 19-yard field goal as it was 48-20 at the break.
Baynard caught two touchdown passes from Callahan in the third quarter as Wesley closed the margin to 48-34.
The Wolverines scored on their first possession of the fourth quarter to make it a seven-point game – 48-41 when Callahan hit Bryce Shade on a 16-yard touchdown pass.
Mount Union answered as Burke engineered a seven-play drive finished off with a 41-yard touchdown pass to Wilkinson to put the lead back out 14 points, 55-41 with 8:46 to play.
On the ensuing drive, Callahan was picked off by Tre Jones (Twinsburg/Twinsburg) on the one-yard line and on the next play Wesley got a safety. On the free kick, Wesley fumbled on a strip from Cody Pogorelc (St. Petersburg, Fla./St. Petersburg) which Mike Maier (Twinsburg/Twinsburg) recovered ran back to the Wesley 17-yard line.
Three plays later, Burke ran in from 16 yards out and pushed the score to 62-43 with just under four minutes to play.
Callahan would throw two more touchdown passes – an 81-yarder to Bryce Shade and a 56-yarder to Koudossou -- as Wesley would score 16 points in a span of 1:34 to get to within three points, 62-59.