Football: #3 Mount Union Hosts #4 Wesley in NCAA Semifinal Saturday; Game LIVE on ESPN3

Kevin Burke (Photo by JT Higgins)
Kevin Burke (Photo by JT Higgins)

2014 Mount Union Football -- NCAA Semifinals
#3/3 University of Mount Union Purple Raiders (13-0) vs
#4/4 Wesley College Wolvierines (12-1)
Saturday, December 13 - 12 pm - Mount Union Stadium (Alliance, Ohio)

TV: ESPN3 (Live Online Only) - Jim Barbar (play-by-play), John Gregory (color)

RADIO:

LIVE STATS: Click Here

COMPLETE NOTES IN PDF FORMAT - Click Here

THE GAME
No. 3 ranked University of Mount Union plays No. 4 ranked Wesley (Del.) College in the semifinals of the 2014 NCAA Division III Football Playoffs Saturday, Dec. 13 at 12 pm at Mount Union Stadium in Alliance, Ohio.

The Purple Raiders are 13-0 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.

Mount Union has an 85-14 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, No. 19 Washington & Jefferson (Pa.), 67-0, in the second round and No. 6 John Carroll 36-28 in the quarterfinals to advance to the semifinals for a 20th straight season.

Wesley (12-1) earned one of two bids reserved for independents to the NCAA Playoffs and the Wolverines are making their 11th playoff appearace overall -- all of them since 2000 -- and the Wolverines have a record of 25-10 in the tournament.

Wesley defeated Hampden-Sydney (Va.) 52-7 in the first round, M.I.T. 59-0 in the second round and No. 9 Hobart (N.Y.) 41-13 in the quarterfinals to reach the semifinals for a sixth time.

THE SERIES
This will be the fourth ever meeting of the teams all of which have happened in the playoffs since 2009 and in Alliance. The teams met last year in the quarterfinals where Mount Union won 62-59. In that game, Mount Union ran out to a 31-0 first quarter lead before Wesley rallied to get the score to 48-41 early in the fourth quarter.  Kevin Burke threw a TD pass and ran for another while Wesley scored two late TD's for the 62-59 final.  Burke finished with three passing TD's and two rushing TD's while Wesley QB Joe Callahan threw for eight TD passes. The other two meetings -- both in the national semifinals -- Mount Union posted a 24-7 win in 2009 and a 28-21 win in 2011.

THE COACHES
Vince Kehres (Mount Union '98) is 27-1 (.964) 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.

Mike Drass (Mansfield, Pa. '82) is 199-53-1 (.785) in his 22nd season as head coach and 26th year at Wesley. He has built the Wolverines into one of the nation's top NCAA Division III programs as the Wolverines are 114-17 with six NCAA semifinal appearance since 2005. An all-conference offensive lineman at Mansfield (Pa.), he spent four years as a high school coach and two years as an assistant at his alma mater before joining the staff at Wesley in 1989.

ON THE AIR
The game will be broadcast LIVE online on WatchESPN.com and will be replayed next week on ESPNU. The game will also be broadcast LIVE on the radio on 1310AM WDPN and WRMU 91.1 FM. 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 of No. 10 Linfield (Ore.) at No. 1 ranked UW-Whitewater (3:30 pm EST start) in the Stagg Bowl -- national championship game -- Friday, Dec. 19 at 7 pm in Salem, Va.

DID YOU KNOW?
This week will be Mount Union's 100th playoff game all-time ... It is the Raiders 22nd overall and 20th straight appearance in the semifinals. Mount Union has made it to the Stagg Bowl 17 times overall since 1993, which was the first year the game was played in its current location -- Salem, Virginia.

SCOUTING THE WOLVERINES
Wesley is used to the road as an independent the Wolverines have played games Maryland, Virginia, Alabama, California and North Carolina. Their only loss on the year is to NCAA Division I Charlotte, 38-33. Wesley independence ends in 2015 as it will be a football-only member of the New Jersey Athletic Conference with the likes of Rowan and Montclair State. Mike Drass has 199 wins at Wesley and is the 2014 South Region Coach of the Year for the sixth time in his career.

Junior quarterback Joe Callahan is at the controls of an offense that is third in nation in scoring at 51.5 points per game. Callahan leads the nation with 45 touchdowns and 3,750 yards passing and joins Kevin Burke as one of four finalists for the Gagliardi Trophy. Senior Steve Koudossou has caught 16 touchdown passes and is fifth in the nation in receiving with 1,295 yards. Sophomore Jamar Baynard leads the ground game with 840 yards (4.3 per carry) and 11 touchdowns.

The Wolverines have an aggressive defense that is fourth in the nation allowing only 227.5 yards per game and third in points allowed at 10.0 points per game. In the middle of this unit both figuartively and literally is senior middle linebacker and South Region Defensive Player of the Year Sosthene Kapepula. Kapepula is averaging 10 tackles per game in the playoffs and has a team-best 89 stops on the season. Senior defensive end Aamir Petrose has 23.5 tackles for loss and 12.0 sacks while fellow senior Leon Jones has a team-best five interceptions.

BY THE NUMBERS

  • Mount Union has an NCAA III best 741 wins as a program.
  • Mount Union has win-loss record of 208-8 since 2000
  • The Raiders have college football's two longest 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 84-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 BEING BURKE
Mount Union senior quarterback Kevin Burke (Westlake/Lakewood St. Edward) threw four touchdown passes against John Carroll last week and has tossed 14 TD passes in three playoff games so far this year. He is tied with Oregon's Marcus Mariota as the nation's highest rated QB at 186.3. Ironically just like Mariota, Burke is a finalist for a national player of the year award as he is one of four finalist for the Gagliardi Trophy that will be presented next Wednesday in Salem, Va. Burke, won the award a year ago and if he won it again would be the first-ever two-time winner.

With the win last week, Burke is 42-1 as the Raiders starting QB. He is a two-time All-American that led Mount Union to a national title in 2012 and back to the title game in 2013 as the only returning offensive starter. 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. He has completed 66-percent of his passes (239-of-364) for 3,674 yards with 42 touchdowns while rushing for 468 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground. For his 52-game career, he has passed for 11,349 yards with 124 touchdowns, rushed for 2,355 yards and is second in Mount Union history with 13,704 yards of total offense (passing + rushing).

BETTER TO RECIEVE
Junior Roman Namdar (Southlake, Texas/Carroll) is a converted quarterback to wide reciever and leads Mount Union with 1,106 reciving yards while his 17 touchdowns on the season ties him with current Washington Redskins receiver Pierre Garcon for ninth on the school's single season list.

MANY HAPPY RETURNS
One of the key stats in last Saturday's quarterfinal win over John Carroll was kick return yards as the Raiders out-gained the Blue Streaks, 174-44. Sophomore Tim Kennedy (Hudson/Hudson), who already entered last week with Mount Union's single-season record for punt return yards, had three returns for 72 yards (24.0 yard average) while junior Taurice Scott (Alliance/Alliance) averaged 25 yards a return on three kickoff returns.

KICKIN' IT
Mount Union senior Edward Ruhnke (Bayville, N.J./Central Regional) has kicked his way into the Mount Union and NCAA single season record books this season. His 25 made field goals on the season is a Mount Union and NCAA single-season record. He has also made 89 extra points which gives him a total of 163 points on the season which is a new NCAA single season record for kicking points in a season. Earlier this season, he matched a school and OAC single game record with five made field goals against Wilmington, totalled an NCAA record 23 kicking points in that game and twice has matched the school record for longest field goal with two from 47 yards. He was the All-OAC First Team kicker, All-North Region First Team kicker and was named to the Capital One Academic All-America Football First Team.

D-FENSE
Mount Union enters the week with the nation's No. 1 rated total defense (217.5), No. 1 scoring defense (8.4 ppg), and No. 1 pass defene (132.2 yards per game).

Junior safety Alex Kocheff (Chagrin Falls/Kenston) is the leading tackler with 66 stops and was named OAC Lee Tressel Defensive Back of the Year. Also named to the All-North Region First Team, he has 10.0 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 17.0 tackles for loss and was named OAC Paul Hornemann Defensive Lineman of the Year and All-North Region First Team. He has 46 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 while senior Jonathan Gonell (Pembroke Pines, Fla./University School) was on the All-OAC Second Team. Spencer is second on the team with 59 tackles and was named All-North Region Second Team and a Capital One Academic All-American while Pogorelc is fourth on the team with 49 tackles. Gonell is third on the team with 54 stops to go along with 9.5 tackles for loss.

Junior defensive back Tre Jones (Twinsburg/Twinsburg) had his team leading fifth interception last week and is an All-OAC and All-North Region 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 7.5 sacks.

LINE IT UP
Mount Union's offensive line play has been a big reason the Raiders are the nation's top rated offense. Leading the unit is All-OAC and All-North Region First Team selection in junior Michael Frank (Eastlake/Eastlake North) who has played both left guard and left tackle this season. The other two that have rotated in on the left side is sophomore Brooks Jenkins (Hilton Head, S.C./Hilton Head) and junior Anthony Presutti (Spring, Texas/Oak Ridge). At center for 12 of the 13 games this season has been sophomore Mitch Doraty (Medina/Medina) while the right side has been anchored by seniors Pat Mahoney (Jeannette, Pa./Greensburg Central Catholic) at guard and Alex Goff (Mansfield/Madison) at tackle.