ALLIANCE, Ohio – No. 1 ranked Mount Union got career days from quarterback Taurice Scott (Alliance/Alliance) and running back Logan Nemeth (McBain, Mich./McBain) and the nation's top rated defense held off the nation's top rated offense as the Purple Raiders beat No. 11 ranked Wesley (Del.) 56-35 in the NCAA Playoff Quarterfinals.
Mount Union moves to 13-0 overall and on to the national semifinals for a 21st straight year where it will play No. 5 ranked Wisconsin-Whitewater at a time and location to be announced Sunday by the NCAA.
The Raider offense had 603 total yards led by Scott, who went 25-of-36 passing for 330 yards with five touchdowns in the air with another on the ground. Nemeth had 218 yards rushing on 26 carries with two scores. Roman Namdar (Southlake, Texas/Carroll) had seven catches for 90 yards with two touchdowns.
Mount Union's defense held Wesley (11-2) 153 yards below its season average as Alex Kocheff (Chagrin Falls/Kenston) had 10 tackles, an interception and a fumble recovery, Jonathan Gonell (Pembroke Pines, Fla./University School) had 11 stops while Mike Furda (Wintersville/Indian Creek) had 1.5 sacks.
Wesley quarterback Joe Callahan went 34-for-53 for 379 yards with four touchdowns but he threw two interceptions and the Wolverines had four total turnovers which Mount Union turned into 21 points.
On the game's opening possession, Mount Union had a touchdown wiped out by a penalty then missed a 31-yard field goal. The Raiders defense then held the Wolverines to seven yards on two possessions that the Raiders turned into 14 points on a Nemeth three-yard run and a 51-yard touchdown pass from Scott to Lane Clark (Perrysville, Ind./North Vermillion). It was Clark's first reception of the season.
Wesley then committed its first turnover of the game with a fumble on its own 34-yard line. Four plays later Scott hit Tim Kennedy (Hudson/Hudson) with a 14-yard touchdown pass and the Raiders led 21-0 at the end of the first quarter.
The Wolverines then scored a pair of touchdowns on long drives – a five-yard run from Jamar Baynard to finish an 11-play drive then a six-yard pass from Callahan to Kyle George to cap a 10-play drive and made the score 21-14 with 9:36 to go in the second quarter.
Mount Union answered on the next drive as the Raiders went 63 yards on seven plays and Scott ran in from two yards out to extend the lead to 28-14.
The Raider defense then held Wesley to eight yards for the rest of the half as the offense put three scores on the board – an 18-yard TD pass from Scott to Jamal Johnson (New Philadelphia/New Philadelphia) then a pair of TD passes from Scott to Namdar from three yards and 14 yards as Mount Union led 49-14 at the break.
Wesley rallied in the second half as the only score of the third quarter was a 58 yard catch and run from Callahan to James Okike, who finished with 143 yards receiving. Callahan and Okike got together again early in the fourth on a six-yard score then Callahan found Jamar Baynard on a 26-yard touchdown pass that brought the Wolverines to within two scores at 49-35 with 11 minutes to play.
Wesley drove to the Mount Union 13 yard line before turning the ball over on downs then the Raiders closed out the game as Nemeth had a 73-yard touchdown run for the 56-35 final.