Football: #3 Mount Union Starts Playoffs Saturday Against Adrian at Home

Hank Spencer and Cody Pogorelc (Photo by Dan Poel, OhioSI.com)
Hank Spencer and Cody Pogorelc (Photo by Dan Poel, OhioSI.com)

2014 Mount Union Football - NCAA FIRST ROUND

#3/3 University of Mount Union Purple Raiders (10-0) vs
Adrian College Bulldogs (8-2)
Saturday, November 22 - 12 pm - Mount Union Stadium (Alliance, Ohio)

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THE GAME
No. 3 ranked University of Mount Union hosts Adrian (Mich.) College in the first round of the 2014 NCAA Division III Football Playoffs Saturday Nov. 22 at noon at Mount Union Stadium in Alliance.
 
Mount Union (10-0, 9-0 OAC) just completed its ninth straight undefeated regular season with a 31-24 win against No. 6 ranked John Carroll and earned an automatic bid into the 32-team tournament by winning its 23rd straight Ohio Athletic Conference title.  The Purple Raiders are making their 26th NCAA Tournament appearance and have an 82-14 record in the NCAA Playoffs.  Mount Union has advanced to the Stagg Bowl (National Championship game) 17 times and have won a record 11 National Championships all in the last 21 years.

Adrian (8-2, 5-1 MIAA) beat Trine (Ind.) 40-7 last week to win the Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association (MIAA) title and claim the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA Playoffs.  It is the Bulldogs 11th conference title, they are making their fourth ever NCAA Playoff appearance (1983, 1988 and 2012) and are 0-3 in playoff games.  
 
THE SERIES
This is the 10th meeting all-time between the two schools with Mount Union holding a 7-2 lead in the series.  The teams last played in season openers in 1992 and 1993 with the Raiders winning both games 21-12 in Alliance in 1992 and 42-0 in Adrian in 1993.

THE COACHES
Vince Kehres (Mount Union '98) is 24-1 (.955) in his second season as head coach has led the Raiders to a pair of OAC titles.  He went 14-1 in his first season in 2013 to set an NCAA record for most wins (14) by a first year college football coach on his way to OAC Coach of the Year and Lee Tressel Ohio College Football Coach of Year awards.  Kehres spent 13 years, eight as defensive coordinator, on the Raiders coaching staff for his father Larry Kehres.  As either a player of coach, Vince Kehres has been part of 10 of Mount Union's 11 national championships.

Jim Deere (Adrian '89) is 36-15 (.878) in his fifth season as head coach at his Alma mater. He has led the Bulldogs to conference titles and NCAA appearances in two of the last three seasons.  Deere spent 17 years as an assistant coach at Adrian -- the final three as defensive coordinator -- before taking over as head coach in 2009.  He was a four-year letterwinner for the Bulldogs and on their 1988 MIAA championship team.

ON THE AIR
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.

UP NEXT ...
The winner of this game will take on the winner of a matchup between Wittenberg and Washington & Jefferson (Pa.) Saturday, November 29 at noon at a location to be announced.  

SCOUTING THE BULLDOGS
Adrian was 5-2 a month ago with a pair of home losses but the Bulldogs won their final three games by an average of 23 points each to win the MIAA and get into the NCAA Playoffs for the second time in three seasons.

The offense averages 30.6 points and 394.9 yards per game.  Senior quarterback Aaron Tenney is 112-of-240 (46.7-percent) for 1,704 yards with 13 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.  His top target is fellow senior Nathan Hartline, who has 52 catches for 934 yards and 9 TDs.  Freshman running back Emmanuel Stewart leads the rushing attack with 969 yards on 151 carries with 11 TDs.

On defense, senior free safety Charles Fleck has a team-best 71 tackles and five interceptions while senior linebacker Juan King has 63 tackles.  The Bulldogs have 30 quarterback sacks and freshman defensive lineman Damon Fuller is ninth in the nation with a team-high 11 sacks.

BY THE NUMBERS

  • 738    Mount Union has an NCAA III best 738 wins as a program.
  • 205-8    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 2000-2003 and 54 from 1996-99
  • 120    consecutive regular season road victories for Mount Union dating back to a 21-18 loss at Baldwin-Wallace on Sept. 28, 1991.
  • 143-0    Since 1996, the Raiders record when winning the turnover battle.
  • 188-1    The Raiders record since 1990 when winning the turnover battle. That lone loss was a 20-17 loss to Wisconsin-LaCrosse in a 1995 national semifinal game in Alliance. In that game, 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. Notre Dame has the most college football titles (11) for teams playing in a non-playoff format.
  • 93   game regular season win streak for Mount Union dating back to a 21-14 loss to Ohio Northern in Alliance on Oct. 22, 2005.
  • 80    game home winning streak for Mount Union dating back to a 21-14 loss to Ohio Northern in Alliance on Oct. 22, 2005.

THE CAPTAIN
Mount Union senior quarterback and team captain Kevin Burke (Westlake/Lakewood St. Edward) accounted for 320 of the Raiders' 397 yards of total offense against John Carroll last week.  

Burke saved his best for last as 87 of those yards came in the fourth quarter has he was 5-of-7 passing for 70 yards and had two rushes for 17 yards.  In his three years as a starter at Mount Union in the fourth quarter, he has completed nearly 70-percent of his passes (68-of-98) for 1,119 yards with 10 touchdowns while averaging three yards a carry rushing.

Burke, an All-American and reigning Gagliardi Trophy winner, has completed 65.1-percent of his passes (168-of-258) for 2,689 yards with 28 TD's and three interceptions while he also has eight rushing touchdowns this season.  He improves to 39-1 as a starting quarterback at Mount Union and if you include his 15-0 year as a starter for Lakewood St. Edward in its state championship season in 2010, Burke is 54-1 as a starting quarterback.

MICHIGAN MEN
Mount Union's top two running backs on the season -- sophomore Bradley Mitchell (Detroit, Mich./South Lake) and junior Logan Nemeth (McBain, Mich./McBain) both hail from the state of Michigan where Adrian is located.

Mitchell had a pair of rushing touchdowns including the game-winner against John Carroll last week and leads the OAC with 18 rushing touchdowns on the season.  In 24 career games, Mitchell is already sixth on the school's all-time rushing list with 2,374 yards.

Nemeth is second on the team with 519 yards on 69 carries with five touchdowns.  He was named CAPITAL ONE Academic All-District and Academic All-Ohio Athletic Confernece as he has a 3.75 grade point average as an accounting major.    

TO THE HOUSE
Mount Union juniors Tre Jones (Twinsburg/Twinsburg) and Alex Kocheff (Chagrin Falls/Kenston) each had interceptions against John Carroll last week.

Jones had an intercpetion return 37 yards for a touchdown which was his team leading fourth interception of the season.  He has eight interceptions for his career with three of those returned for touchdowns.

Kocheff's interception was his third of the season and he matched his career-high with a team-best 11 tackles against John Carroll.  Kocheff leads the team with 49 stops on the season.

BRACKETOLOGY
For the 10th 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, two spots are for teams that are independents or in conferences not granted automatic bids and the final six spots are national at-large bids.

Each team is allowed to only dress a total of 58 players for a playoff game.

TITLETOWN
Mount Union's women's volleyball team, ranked No. 11 in the nation, won both the OAC regular season and tournament titles, advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the fourth year in a row and won a game in the tournament for a fourth year a row.  

The men's and women's cross country teams swept both conference titles and both qualified for this Saturday's NCAA Championships in Mason, Ohio.  The women's team is ranked No. 21 in the nation while the men's team is ranked No. 23 in the nation.  Mount Union won the NCAA Division III men's cross country national title in 1974.

The Mount Union wrestling team is also nationally ranked as the Raiders are currently 11th in the latest National Wrestling Coaches Association poll.