Football: Top Ranked Raiders Host #18 Albright Saturday in NCAA Second Round

Photo by Dan Poel,
Photo by Dan Poel,

What: #1 Mount Union (11-0) vs. #18 Albright (10-1)  - NCAA Second Round

When: Saturday, Nov. 28, 12 p.m.

Where: Mount Union Stadium -- Alliance, Ohio

Radio: 1310 AM WDPN (Alliance) - Sam Bourquin (p-b-p) T.J. Downing (color) / 91.1 FM WRMU (Alliance) - Mount Union student radio

Online Coverage: Live stats  |  Video  |  Tickets | LIVE WDPN Audio | LIVE WRMU Audio

Complete Notes in PDF Format

The matchup: No. 1 ranked Mount Union plays No. 18 ranked Albright in the second round of the NCAA Division III Football Championship Saturday at noon at Mount Union Stadium.

Game preview: The Purple Raiders are 11-0 overall and one of 25 conference champions to claim an automatic bid as Mount Union won its 24th straight and 27th overall Ohio Athletic Conference title with a 9-0 record.

Mount Union is ranked No. 1 in both the AFCA (American Football Coaches Association) and Top 25 polls while being No. 1 in the NCAA Division III North Region poll which is used for seeding and at-large selections for the championship. Mount Union defeated St. Lawrence (N.Y.) 55-23 in the first round and has an 87-15 record in NCAA Playoff games.  The Raiders are making a record 27th overall and 24th consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance and have advanced to the Stagg Bowl 18 times since 1993 with a record 11 National Championships.

Albright is 10-1 overall and the Lions are in the tournament as the champions of the Middle Atlantic Conferences. Albright is making its fifth ever NCAA Playoff appearance (1975, 1976, 1996, 2009) and is 3-4 in playoff games.  The Lions beat Norwich (Vt.) 49-0 in the first round in their first-ever playoff home game.

The series: The teams have met one other time and it was in the playoffs as Albright came to Alliance in a second round matchup in 2009 with the Raiders winning 55-3.

Up next ... The winner takes on the winner between No. 8 Johns Hopkins (Md.) and No. 11 Wesley in the national quarterfinals Saturday, Dec. 5 at noon at a location to be announced.  

Bracketology: For the 11th 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 were given to 25 conference champions, one spot was for a team that was an independent 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.

Raiders in the rankings: Mount Union's defense has posted six shutouts this season.Here are some highlights in the NCAA rankings in a variety of catagories.

    No. 1 in total defense (158.4 yds/gm)
    No. 1 in scoring defense (5.2 ppg)
    No. 1 in passing yds allowed (117.5 yds/gm)
    No. 1 in first downs allowed (107)    
    No. 1 in turnovers lost (5)
    No. 1 in 3rd down defense (19.5%)
    No. 1 in rushing defense (40.9 yds/gm)
    No. 2 in pass efficiency defense (82.0)
    No. 2 in scoring offense (53.8 ppg)
    No. 3 in first downs (300)
    No. 3 in rushing offense (319.8 yds/gm)
    No. 4 in total offense (554.9 yds/gm)

Scouting the Lions: Albright head coach John Marzka was an offensive lineman on the 1990 Allegheny (Pa.) team that beat Mount Union on its way to a national title.  In his nine years at Albright, his teams have played in a postseason game in eight of the nine seasons.  This season his squad features a young high powered offense with an agressive defense.

At the controls of Albright's offense is freshman quarterback Mike Knight.  The MAC Rookie of the Year completes 63-percent of his passes for 1932 yards, 18 TDs and nine interceptions.  He is also the Lions second leading rushers with a team-high 122 runs for 355 yards and four scores.  Also in the backfield is sophomore Chris Dawson with 553 yards on 107 carries with seven scores.  Sophomore Malik Jackson (48-510, 3 TD) and junior Vinny Williams (44-509, 4 TD) lead the receiving corps.

The defense has 27 sacks and is fourth in the nation with 21 interceptions.  The Lions have scored six defensive touchdowns and is second in the nation in turnovers gained with 31. Senior linebacker Steve Barroso has a team-best 71 tackles with five interceptions, three forced fumbles and five fumble recoveries.  Senior Jamal Hayden has 8.5 sacks and 15 tackles for loss.

Captains: Alex Kocheff, Tom Lally, Taurice Scott and Hank Spencer are Mount Union's 2015 captains.

Sack attack: Senior Tom Lally (Fairview Park/Lakewood St. Edward) had a career-best 3.5 sacks last.  The Raiders all-time sack leader now with 36.5 sacks led a unit that set a school and NCAA playoff record with 12 sacks. That bested the previous school record of 10 that happened in 2004 at Capital.  

Three of a kind: Mount Union swept the defensive MVP awards this week on the All-Ohio Athletic Conference football teams.  Tom Lally was the lineman of the year, Hank Spencer (Greencastle, Ind./North Putnam) was the linebacker of the year and Tre Jones (Twinsburg/Twinsburg) was the defensive back of the year.  

All three were part of 19 players that received honors.  There were 13 first team picks -- Roman Namdar at wide receiver, Mitch Doraty at center, Mike Frank at offensive line, Taurice Scott at quarterback, Logan Nemeth at running back and Jake Antel at kicker on offense with Mike Furda at defensive line, Jonathan Gonell at linebacker, Alex Kocheff and Will Hiteshue defensive back spots along with Lally, Spencer and Jones on defense.

Wide receiver Tim Kennedy, offensive lineman Brooks Jenkins, running back Bradley Mitchell and defensive back Nick Rodriguez were all second team selections while Jordan Hargrove at wide receiver and Mike Vidal at defensive line were honorable mention selections.

On the air:
All Mount Union football playoff games will be 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 WRMU feed will also be on a live video simulcast of the game.