Football: #2 Mount Union Starts OAC Slate Saturday at Marietta

Michael Vidal (photo by Dan Poel)
Michael Vidal (photo by Dan Poel)

#2 Mount Union Purple Raiders vs Marietta Pioneers

The Matchup:
No. 2 ranked Mount Union starts Ohio Athletic Conference play against Marietta Saturday, Sept. 16 at 1:30 p.m. at Don Drumm Stadium in Marietta.
 
Mount Union opened the season two weeks ago with a 58-0 home win over North Carolina Wesleyan. Sophomore quarterback D'Angelo Fulford (Mirmar, Fla./Mirmar) generated 291 yards of total offense as he ran for 78 and threw for 231 on 16-of-21 passing with three TDs. Fellow sophomore Justin Hill (Circleville/Jireh Prep, N.C.) caught all three of touchdown passes and recovered a fumble for another TD. Senior Jared Ruth (Indianapolis, Ind./Pike) returned two punts for scores while the defense held NC Wesleyan to just 149 total yards and sophomore linebacker Trey Williams returned an interception 75 yards for a score.
 
Two weeks ago, Marietta was down 25-12 with just over 13 minutes to play but rallied for a 26-25 win at Geneva (Pa.). Junior quarterback Darrien Fields threw three touchdown passes, two in the final eight minutes and the last one of those to Andrew Barker with two minutes to play.  Linebackers in senior Nick O'Neil and junior Tyler Ruhl had 11 and 10 tackles respectively to pace the defense. It was the first season opening win for the Pioneers since 2014 against Kenyon.
 
The Series: This is the 56th meeting between the teams with Mount Union holding a 46-8-1 lead in the series dating back to a 20-0 Mount Union win on September 23, 1933 in Alliance.

The teams have met every year since 1981 and Mount Union has won all 36 of those meetings including a 56-0 win in Alliance last year. The last Pioneer win was a 20-6 decision in 1977 in Marietta.
 
Scouting the Pioneers: Marietta returns 30 letterwinners and 17 starters from last season. The Pioneers welcome back nine starters on offense, six on defense and two on special teams.
Leading that offense is junior Darrien Fields, who completed 64.4% of his passes for 2,038 yards and 13 touchdowns a year ago. Senior All-American running back Roger Walker averaged 129.2 yards per game and scored 13 rushing TDs in 2016. and scored 13 rushing TDs. He also caught 23 passes for 305 yards and 3 TDs. The Pioneers also return three of their top four receivers from last season in sophomores Billy Frauens, Ryan Van Meter and Andrew Barker. Leading the Pioneer defense are a trio of linebackers in juniors Garrett Davis and Tyler Ruhl with senior Nick O'Neil. Davis led the team with 90 tackles a year ago while O'Neil and Ruhl led the team in stops two weeks ago.
Conference Call: The Ohio Athletic Conference posted an 8-2 record in their non-conference matchups two weeks ago while Otterbein beat Muskingum last week 41-24 as the two teams opened conference action.
 
Many Happy Returns: Senior Jared Ruth (Indianapolis, Ind./Pike) returned two punts for touchdowns against NC Wesleyan. It was career punt return TDs No. 2 and No. 3 for Ruth, who took one back against Adrian (Mich.) in 2014. It was also the first time a Raider returned two punts for scores in the same game since Chris Denton took a pair back at Franklin (Ind.) in the 2012 season opener. That season, Denton returned five punts for touchdowns which is the Mount Union single season and career record.
 
Three of a Kind: Sophomore Justin Hill caught three touchdowns as he had a career day against NC Wesleyan with five catches for 92 yards. The last Raider to catch three touchdowns in a single game was in 2015 when Roman Namdar did it twice -- against Bethany (W.Va.) and Baldwin Wallace.
 
Team Captains: Mount Union has five seniors named team captains in 2017 in linebacker Charlie Dear, wide receiver Braeden Friss, safety Brian Groves, offensive lineman Cole Parrish and defensive lineman Michael Vidal.
 
Headed to the Hall: Former Mount Union head coach and current athletic director Larry Kehres will be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame this December in his first year of eligibility. Kehres posted a record of 332-24-3 with 23 OAC titles and 11 national titles coaching the Raiders from 1986-2012.
 
On the air: All Mount Union football 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 next three home games -- Sept. 23 against Baldwin Wallace, Sept. 30 against Ohio Northern and Oct. 14 against Capital will all be broadcast on television on SportsTime Ohio and WIVM-TV 39 in Canton.
 
Something Extra: Senior kicker Alex Louthan (Loganville, Ga./Grayson) made four extra points and three field goals two weeks ago against NC Wesleyan. Louthan now has 88 career extra points which puts him 10th all-time at Mount Union in the category.
 
In the Zone: Sophomore linebacker Trey Williams (Cardington/Cardington-Lincoln) returned an interception 75 yards for a touchdown against NC Wesleyan. A year ago, Mount Union was second in the nation with seven defensive touchdowns.
 
New Sport: Mount Union announced this week that men's volleyball will be added to the athletic department in 2018-19. It will be the 24th varsity sport for the Purple Raiders which may initially compete as an independent as the OAC does not sponsor the sport.
 
Up Next: Mount Union plays a pair of home games the next two weeks. The Raiders host Baldwin Wallace Sept. 23 at 1:30 p.m. and it will be M Club Hall of Fame Day while Ohio Northern comes to the stadium Sept. 30 at 1:30 p.m. for the annual homecoming contest.