Football: #3 Mount Union & #6 John Carroll Meet Again This Time In NCAA Quarterfinals Saturday in Alliance

Photo by Dan Poel, OhioSI.com
Photo by Dan Poel, OhioSI.com

2014 Mount Union Football -- NCAA Quarterfinals
#3/3 University of Mount Union Purple Raiders (12-0) vs
#6/6 John Carroll University Blue Streaks (11-1)
Saturday, December 6 - 12 pm - Mount Union Stadium (Alliance, Ohio)

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THE GAME
No. 3 ranked University of Mount Union plays No. 6 ranked John Carroll in the quarterfinals of the 2014 NCAA Division III Football Playoffs Saturday, Dec. 6 at 12 pm at Mount Union Stadium in Alliance, Ohio.

The Purple Raiders are 12-0 overall and one of 24 conference champions to claim an automatic bid as Mount Union won its 23rd straight and 26th overall Ohio Athletic Conference title with a 31-24 win over John Carroll on Nov. 15 in Alliance.

Mount Union has an 84-14 record in NCAA Playoff games and the Raiders have advanced to the Stagg Bowl 17 times since 1993 with a record 11 National Championships. The Raiders defeated Adrian (Mich.), 63-3, in the first round and No. 19 Washington & Jefferson (Pa.), 67-0, in the second round to advance to the quarterfinals for a 23rd straight season.

John Carroll (11-1) earned one of six national at-large bids to the NCAA Playoffs and the Blue Streaks defeated Centre (Ky.) in the first round at home then knocked off No. 8 ranked Wheaton (Ill.) 14-12 on the road.

The Blue Streaks are making their fifth NCAA Playoff appearance with a 6-4 record in the tournament and are in the quarterfinals for the third time.

THE SERIES
This is the 34th meeting between the teams with Mount Union holding a 29-2-2 lead in the series dating back to a 48-0 Mount Union win in 1920. The Raiders have won 25-straight meetings going back to a 20-20 tie in 1991 in Alliance. The last John Carroll win was a 31-7 win in 1989 in University Heights.

The teams have met two previous times in the playoffs both in Alliance -- a 1997 quarterfinal game that the Raiders won 59-7 and a 2002 semifinal game that Mount Union won 57-19.

THE COACHES
Vince Kehres (Mount Union '98) is 26-1 (.963) in his second season as head coach has led the Raiders to a pair of OAC titles and been named OAC Coach of the Year twice. 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 and was Lee Tressel Ohio College Football Coach of Year. 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.

Tom Arth (John Carroll '03) is 20-3 (.869) in his second season as head coach at his Alma mater. Arth had spent three seasons as an assistant coach and offensive coordinator at John Carroll before taking over as head coach in 2013. Arth set 18 school records as a quarterback for the Blue Streaks from 1999-2002. His final game as a player was a 57-19 loss in the NCAA Playoff National Semifinals at Mount Union. After college, Arth spent three seasons in the NFL with the Indianapolis Colts and Green Bay Packers.

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 here 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 Wesley (Del.) and Hobart (N.Y.) in a national semifinal game next Saturday, Dec. 13 at a time and a place to be determined.

DID YOU KNOW?
The 67-point margin of victory for Mount Union last week set a new record for the NCAA Division III Playoffs which began in 1973.

SCOUTING THE BLUE STREAKS
John Carroll features a talented senior quarterback at the helm of a dynamic offense with an aggressive physical defense ... sound familiar.

On defense, the Blue Streaks are No. 5 in the nation in total defense allowing opponents 238.0 yards per game and No. 6 in scoring defense giving up 11.5 points per game.  Junior linebacker Kevin Cope has 72 tackles and was named OAC Linebacker of the Year.  Senior linebacker Jimmy King leads the unit with 84 tackles while fellow linebacker in junior Andy Bryan has a team-best 4.5 sacks as 17 different Blue Streaks have at least one sack.  There are 11 different John Carroll players with an interception with six players having two interceptions including senior defensive back Brody Zangaro.

Senior quarterback Mark Myers is Division III's third rated passer (184.9 rating) and is second in the nation with 38 touchdown passes.  He has completed 69-percent of his passes for 3,066 yards and his top targets are sophomore Marshall Howell (62 rec. 1,007 yds. 13 TD) and senior Aramis Greenwood (46 rec. 828 yds. 9 TD).  The Streaks offensive line has allowed a nation's best six sacks over 12 games.  Senior running back Tommy Michals is fifth in NCAA Division III with 19 rushing touchdowns.  He has 1,413 yards on 217 carries and had 182 yards against the Raiders three weeks ago.

The Blue Streaks lead the nation with 12 blocked kicks this season on special teams while Wes Keller has taken over the kicking duties for senior All-American place kicker Kresimir Ivkovic and is 1-for-3 in field goals with that lone make being a 20-yarder at Mount Union three weeks ago.
           
BY THE NUMBERS

  • Mount Union has an NCAA III best 740 wins as a program.
  • Mount Union has win-loss record of 207-8 since 2000
  • The Raiders hold the two longest college football win streaks -- 55 from 2000-03 and 54 from 1996-99
  • Mount Union has 120 straight regular season road wins since a 21-18 loss at Baldwin-Wallace on Sept. 28, 1991.
  • Since 1996, the Raiders are 145-0 when winning the turnover battle.
  • The Raiders are 190-1 since 1990 when winning the turnover battle. That loss was a 20-17 loss to UW-LaCrosse in a 1995 national semifinal game in Alliance. In that game, the Raiders had a +1 turnover margin.
  • 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.
  • Mount Union has won 93 straight regular season games dating back to a 21-14 home loss to Ohio Northern on Oct. 22, 2005.
  • Mount Union has won 83-straight home games since a 21-14 loss to Ohio Northern in Alliance on Oct. 22, 2005.

 

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 at-large bids.

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

BURKE HAS CAREER DAY #BURKE4GAGLIARDI
Mount Union senior quarterback Kevin Burke (Westlake/Lakewood St. Edward) threw a career-best six touchdown passes last week against Washington & Jefferson as he went 30-of-41 for 402 yards passing

He has been named one of 10 finalists for the Gagliardi Trophy given to the top all-around football player in NCAA Division III and if he won it he would be the first-ever player to win the award twice. Fans can vote for Burke and the winner of the fan vote gets one vote for the award http://www.d3football.com/notables/2014/11/gagliardi-semifinalists-announced

With the win against Washington & Jefferson last week, Burke is 41-1 as the Raiders starting quarterback since 2012. He is a two-time All-American that led Mount Union to a national title in 2012 and won the Gagliardi Trophy in 2013 as the Raiders went back to the national title game.

This season he led Mount Union to a 23rd straight and 26th overall Ohio Athletic Conference title and has earned the OAC's Bob Packard Offensive Back of the Year Award for the second time in three seasons while also being named Capital One Academic All-American this past week. A three-time All-OAC First Team QB he has led an offense that is No. 1 in the nation in total offense (610.2 yards/game) and scoring (61.5 points per game). He is Division III's No. 1 rated passer (189.6 rating) as he has completed 67-percent of his passes (219-of-327) for 3,377 yards with 38 touchdowns while rushing for 460 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground.

For his career, he has passed for 11,052 yards with 120 touchdowns, rushed for 2,347 yards and is second in Mount Union history with 13,399 yards of total offense (passing + rushing).

JUST FOR KICKS
Mount Union senior Edward Ruhnke (Bayville, N.J./Central Regional) has kicked his way into the Mount Union and NCAA single season record books. His three made field goals last week against Washington & Jefferson give him a Mount Union and NCAA record 25 this season. Along with his three field goals, he was 8-for-8 in extra points which gives him 159 points on the season which is a new NCAA single season record for kicking points and 10th in a single season in scoring at Mount Union. Earlier this season, he matched a school and OAC single game record with five made field goals against Wilmington and totalled an NCAA record 23 kicking points in that game. He was the All-OAC First Team kicker and was named to the Capital One Academic All-America Football First Team.

Ruhnke is not the only special teams player in the record books as sophomore Tim Kennedy (Hudson/Hudson) now owns the Mount Union single season record for punt return yards in a season with 571 yards on 41 returns. The old record of 570 yards was held by current assistant coach Chris Denton, who had 550 yards on 43 returns in 2012. Kennedy was selected All-OAC honorable mention this season.

D-FENSE
Mount Union enters the week with the nation's No. 1 rated total defense (203.5), No. 1 scoring defense (6.8 ppg), No. 1 pass defene (113.1 yards per game) and No. 1 third down defense (20.6%).

Junior safety Alex Kocheff (Chagrin Falls/Kenston) is the leading tackler with 58 stops and was named OAC Lee Tressel Defensive Back of the Year. He also has 8.0 tackles for loss, 4.0 sacks and three interceptions.

Junior defensive lineman Tom Lally (Fairview Park/Lakewood St. Edward) has a team and OAC-best 16.5 tackles for loss and was named OAC Paul Hornemann Defensive Lineman of the Year. He has 43 total tackles and a team-best three fumble recoveries with his 20.5 career sacks is ninth all-time at Mount Union.

Linebackers in junior Hank Spencer (Greencastle, Ind./North Putnam) and senior Cody Pogorelc (St. Petersburg, Fla./St. Petersburg) were both All-OAC First Team selections. Spencer is second on the team with 54 tackles and was named Capital One Academic All-American this week while Pogorelc is third on the team with 46 tackles.

Junior defensive back Tre Jones (Twinsburg/Twinsburg) had his team leading fifth interception last week and is an All-OAC First Team pick while junior defensive lineman Mike Furda (Wintersville/Indian Creek), an All-OAC Second Team selection, is averaging 4.5 tackles per game in the playoffs and has a team-high 6.5 sacks.

THREE NAMED CAPITAL ONE ACADEMIC ALL-AMERICA
Mount Union seniors Edward Ruhnke, Kevin Burke and junior Hank Spencer have each been named to the Capital One Academic All-America Football Teams as selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America.

Ruhnke is a first team selection at kicker while Burke and Spencer are on the second team at quarterback and linebacker respectively. The three selections match a Mount Union single season record from 2010 and 2011. The Purple Raiders now have 27 Academic All-American selections in football which is the most of any Ohio Athletic Conference school.

Ruhnke is a Business Management major with a 3.95 grade point average, Burke has a 3.37 grade point average as a Business Administration major, who this past summer completed an internship with the US Secret Service field office in Cleveland while Spencer won the NCAA Elite 89 Award in 2013 given to the highest grade point average at a championship event and has a 3.98 grade point average as a Computer Science major.

To be eligible, a student-athlete must be a varsity starter or key reserve, maintain a cumulative grade point average of 3.30 on a scale of 4.00, have reached sophomore athletic and academic standing at his current institution and be nominated by his sports information director.

CAPTAINS
Mount Union's players have voted four players -- quarterback Kevin Burke, safety Alex Kocheff, wide receiver Luc Meacham and linebacker Hank Spencer -- captains for 2014. Burke, Meacham and Spencer were all captains last year as well.

PURPLE RAIDERS IN THE PROs
** Wide receiver Pierre Garcon, a sixth round draft pick of the Indianapolis Colts in 2008. He spent four seasons with the Colts highlighted by playing in Super Bowl XLIV in 2009. He signed a free agent contract with Washington in 2012 and led the NFL and set a team record for receptions in 2013.

** Wide receiver Cecil Shorts III, a fourth round pick in by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2011, is in his fourth year with the Jags in 2014. He led Jacksonville in receiving in 2013.

** Tight end Kyle Miller played in a regular season game with the Indianapolis Colts in 2012 then was claimed off waivers by the Miami Dolphins and spent the rest of 2012 and 2013 there before being claimed by the Atlanta Falcons in 2014 where he is on the practice squad.

** Dom Capers enters 29th season as an NFL coach in 2014 and he is in his fifth season as defensive coordinator of the Green Bay Packers. The Packers won Super Bowl XLV. He has worked for seven different NFL teams including being the first head coach of the Carolina Panthers and was also the head coach of the Houston Texans.

** Nick Sirianni is in his sixth season as an NFL assistant coach and second with the San Diego Chargers as quarterbacks coach. He spent four years as an assistant coach with the Kansas City Chiefs. The 2003 Mount Union grad spent two seasons as an assistant with the Purple Raiders and three seasons as an assistant at Indiana (Pa.).