Football: #3 Mount Union Claims OAC Title With 31-24 Win Over #6 John Carroll in Front of Record Crowd

Kevin Burke (Photo by Dan Poel)
Kevin Burke (Photo by Dan Poel)

ALLIANCE, Ohio – No. 3 ranked Mount Union won the Ohio Athletic Conference football title with a 31-24 win against No. 6 ranked John Carroll in the regular season finale Saturday in front of a stadium record crowd 9,397 at Mount Union Stadium in Alliance.

Mount Union running back Bradley Mitchell scored his second rushing touchdown of the game – an 8-yard scamper with 1:12 left to give the Purple Raiders the lead and the defense held as the Blue Streaks drove all the way to the Mount Union seven-yard-line before time expired.

The Purple Raiders won their 23rd straight and 26th overall Ohio Athletic Conference as they extended their regular season win streak to 93 games and home field win streak to 81 games.

John Carroll rallied from a 24-7 halftime deficit with 17 unanswered points to tie the game at 24-24 with 3:17 to play.

Late in the third quarter, John Carroll running back Tommy Michals had his second touchdown run -- a four-yard run and quarterback Mark Myers hit Marshall Howell on a 45-yard touchdown pass to bring the Blue Streaks within three points, 24-21, with 10 minutes to play.  Backup kicker Wes Keller then tied the game with a 20-yard field goal with 3:17 to play.

Mount Union quarterback Kevin Burke (Westlake/Lakewood St. Edward) then engineered a nine-play, 72-yard drive where he completed 4-of-4 passes – three for 39 yards to Sherman Wilkinson (Kettering/Fairmont) and another on third down 18 yards to Tim Kennedy (Hudson/Hudson) to set up the Raiders on the John Carroll eight-yard line.  Mitchell scored the go ahead score on the next play.  

Burke finished with 320 yards of Mount Union's 397 yards of total offense as he threw for 258 and ran for a team-high 62.

Wilkinson had his first 100-yard receiving game of the season with eight catches for a game-high 134 yards.

The first quarter featured four turnovers, three by John Carroll, and one of those was converted into a touchdown as Tre Jones (Twinsburg/Twinsburg) brought an interception back 37 yards for a touchdown as Mount Union led 7-0.

The Raiders put two touchdowns on the board in the opening five minutes of the second quarter as Burke hit Roman Namdar (Southlake, Texas/Carroll) on a four-yard touchdown pass and Mitchell had a four-yard TD run to put Mount Union up 21-0.

John Carroll got on the board with a 57-yard touchdown run by Tommy Michals with 6:19 left in the half.

Mount Union made it 24-7 at the half when Edward Ruhnke (Bayville, N.J./Central Regional) matched his career-long and a school record with a 47-yard field goal 25 seconds before halftime.

The Raiders claim the OAC's automatic bid to the NCAA Division III Football Playoffs while John Carroll looks for one of six national at-large bids.  The selections will be announced online Sunday at 6 pm at NCAA.com.