Football: #1 Mount Union Plays #4 North Central in NCAA Semifinals Saturday

Football: #1 Mount Union Plays #4 North Central in NCAA Semifinals Saturday

2013 Mount Union Football - NCAA Semifinals
#1 University of Mount Union Purple Raiders (13-0)
vs #4 North Central College Cardinals (13-0)
Saturday, December 14 - 12 pm - Mount Union Stadium (Alliance, Ohio)

TV: ESPN3
Michael Reghi (play-by-play), John Gregoy (analyst) | WATCH LIVE

RADIO:
WDPN 1310 AM (Alliance) | LISTEN LIVE
WRMU 91.1 FM (Alliance) | LISTEN LIVE

LIVE STATS:
http://livestats.prestosports.com/mountunion

COMPLETE NOTES IN PDF FORMAT - Click Here

THE GAME

No. 1 ranked University of Mount Union will host No. 4 ranked North Central (Ill.) College in an NCAA Division III National Semifinal Playoff Game Saturday at 12 pm Saturday, Dec. 14 at Mount Union Stadium in Alliance, Ohio.

This will be the first-ever meeting between the teams as Mount Union is making its 19th straight semifinal appearace while North Central is in the game for first time in school history.  


North Central is 13-0 and in the tournament after winning the College Conference of Illinois and Wisconsin title and its automatic bid.  The Cardinals have made eight NCAA Playoff appearances all since 2005.  North Central has a 10-7 record in the playoffs including a 63-7 win over Albion (Mich.) in the first round, a 52-24 win over Wisconsin-Platteville in the second round and a 41-17 win at Bethel (Minn.) in the quarterfinals. 

The Purple Raiders have the nation's longest win streak at 28 games, are 13-0 overall and one of 24 conference champions to claim an automatic bid as Mount Union won its 22nd straight and 25th overall Ohio Athletic Conference championship with a 9-0 record.  Mount Union has a 81-13 record in NCAA Playoff games including a 34-20 win over Washington & Jefferson (Pa.) in the first round, a 56-21 win against Wittenberg in the second round and a 62-59 victory over Wesley (Del.) in the quarterfinals.

The Raiders have advanced to the Stagg Bowl 16 times and have won a record 11 National Championships.

MOUNT UNION FOOTBALL ON THE AIR 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 hear the WRMU 91.1 FM feed on any phone by calling (330) 445-7900. 

THE COACHES

Vince Kehres (Mount Union '98) is 13-0 in his in first season as head coach at Mount Union. Kehres played for the Purple Raiders and has spent the last 13 years on the coaching staff including the last eight as defensive coordinator before taking over for his father Larry Kehres this past May.  As either a player or coach Kehres has been a part of 10 of the Purple Raiders' 11 national championships.  He is the second coach in school history to go 10-0 and win an OAC title in his first season as head coach joining his father Larry Kehres.  He was also named OAC Coach of the Year this week.

John Thorne (Illinois Wesleyan '69) is 110-27 in his 12th season as head coach at North Central.  A three-time CCIW Coach of the Year winner, Thorne is North Central's all-time leader in wins and winning percentage. He spent 22 seasons as a head coach at Wheaton Warrenville South (Ill.) High School where he compiled a 181-64 record with four state championships and two state runner up finishes.

THE SERIES

This is the first-ever meeting between the two teams. 

UP NEXT ...

The winner of this game plays the winner of the Wisconsin-Whitewater/Mary Hardin-Baylor game next Friday at 7pm in the national championship game -- Stagg Bowl XLI at Salem Stadium in Salem, Virginia.  The game will be broadcast LIVE on ESPNU.

SCOUTING THE CARDINALS

North Central is making its first-ever NCAA semifinal appearance and the Cardinals feature a skilled quarterback leading a prolific offense and an opportunistic defense that goes after the football.  North Central is ninth in the nation in total offense (505.2 yards per game) and 16th in total defense.  The Cardinals are +19 in turnover margin with 20 interceptions.   

Senior quarterback Spencer Stanek is the nation's highest rated passer completing 73.1-percent of his passes and has set school single season records with 3,297 passing yards and 41 touchdown passes.  He was the CCIW Offensive Player of the Year and his top targets are Peter Sorenson (70 catches, 990 yards, 14 TD's) and Chad O'Kane (57 catches, 857 yards, 13 TD's). Running back Ryan Kent has ran for 1,122 yards with 14 TD's on the ground. 

The defense is led by North Region Defensive Player of the Year and CCIW Player of the Year in safety Shane Dierking, who has 70 tackles with eight interceptions.  Linebacker Nick Slezak leads the team with 106 stops and 19 tackles for loss while defensive linemen John Focosi and Alex Tripp have 9.5 and 8.5 sacks respectively.

BY THE NUMBERS

194-7: 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 2000-03 and 54 from 1996-99

28: Mount Union has college football's (all divisions) longest active win streak at 28 games.

727: Mount Union's win last week gave the program its 727th victory which is  tied with Wittenberg for most by an NCAA Division III program.  Only 21  programs in all of college football have ever won over 700 games.

136-0: Since 1996, the Raiders record when winning the turnover battle.

181-1: The Raiders record since 1990 when winning to the turnover battle. That lone loss was a 20-17 loss to Wisconsin-LaCrosse in a 1995 national semifinal game in Alliance, where the Raiders had a +1 turnover margin.

11: The Raiders 11 National Championships (1993, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2012) are a record for college football teams in a playoff format.

83: game regular season win streak for Mount Union dating back to a 21-14 loss to Ohio Northern in Alliance on Oct. 22, 2005

76: game home winning streak for Mount Union dating back to a 21-14 loss to Ohio Northern on Oct. 22, 2005

BRACKETOLOGY
For the 9th 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, three spots are for teams that are independents or in conferences not granted automatic bids and the final five spots are national at-large bids.  Each team is allowed to only dress a total of 58 players for a playoff game.
WHERE THEY STAND
Mount Union is nation's highest scoring team averaging 49.6 points per game and is second in the nation in total offense (536.7 yards per game). The Raiders are also the best team in nation on third down with a 57.8-percent conversion rate.  On defense, Mount Union is second in the nation in total defense (273.7 yards per game) and is third in the nation in rushing defense (62.1 rushing yards allowed per game). 
MITCHELL MAKES IT SEVEN
Mount Union freshman running back Bradley (B.J.) Mitchell (St. Clair Shores, Mich./South Lake) had his seventh overall and sixth straight 100-yard rushing performance last week with 134 yards on 27 carries.  Mitchell has started the last seven games and his other 100-yard rushing performance of the season -- 181 yards against Washington & Jefferson, 105 yards vs. Wilmington, 157 yards at Heidelberg and versus John Carroll, 114 against Baldwin Wallace and 143 yards against Wittenberg.  His now 1,226 rushing yards on the season is more than Nate Kmic -- college football's all-time leading rusher -- had as a freshman which was 1,219 yards.  
BURKE FINALIST FOR GAGLIARDI
Junior quarterback Kevin Burke (Westlake/Lakewood St. Edward) has been selected as one of four finalists for the Gagliardi Trophy given to the top all-around football player in NCAA Division III.  The trophy will be presented on Wednesday, Dec. 18, in Salem, Va., at a banquet kicking-off a series of Division III Stagg Bowl championship events. 
Burke is 28-0 as the Purple Raiders' starting quarterback.  A year ago, he earned All-American honors and was the OAC's Bob Packard Offensive Back of the Year as he led Mount Union to a 15-0 record, an Ohio Athletic Conference title and a record 11th NCAA Division III title.  This season as the only returning starter on offense, he has led an offense that is currently the nation's top scoring offense as the Raiders are 13-0, ranked No. 1 in the nation, won their 22nd straight OAC title and are in the national semifinals for a 19th straight season. 
This season he is the nation's No. 2 rated passer (192.3 rating) and leads the nation with 43 touchdown passes.  He has completed 63-percent of his passes (200-of-318) for 3,351 yards while he is also the team's second leading rusher with 904 rushing yards and eight touchdowns.  His 904 rushing yards is a school single season record for a quarterback.
For his career, he has passed for 7,196 yards with 81 touchdowns and he has 8,962 yards of total offense (passing + rushing) which are both fifth on Mount Union's all-time list.
A record five other Purple Raiders have won the Gagliardi Trophy. Quarterback Jim Ballard won the inaugural award in 1993, fellow quarterback Bill Borchert in 1997, running backs Chuck Moore and Dan Pugh won the award in 2001 and 2002, while quarterback Greg Micheli won the award in 2008.
PURPLE RAIDERS IN THE PROs
Wide receiver Pierre Garcon, a sixth round draft pick of the Indianapolis Colts in 2008, is in his second season with Washington and last week assured himself of his first 1,000 yard receivng season.  Cecil Shorts III, a fourth round pick in by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2011, has emerged as the Jaguars No. 1 receiver and is also among NFL leaders in receptions. Kyle Miller made his NFL debut as a TE for the Indianapolis Colts in 2012, was waived then signed by the Miami Dolphins where he is on the practice squad with another former Raider in wide receiver Jasper Collins. Two Raiders in the NFL coaching ranks are Dom Capers, defensive coordinator of Green Bay Packers and Nick Sirianni is the offense quality control coach witht the San Diego Chargers.