Football: #2 Mount Union Opens Playoffs Saturday Against Washington & Lee

Adam Mihoci (Photo by Dan Poel, OhioSi.com)
Adam Mihoci (Photo by Dan Poel, OhioSi.com)

#2 Mount Union Purple Raiders vs Washington & Lee Generals

The Matchup: No. 2 ranked University of Mount Union hosts Washington & Lee in the first round of the 2017 NCAA Division III Football Playoffs Saturday, Nov. 18 at 12 pm at Mount Union Stadium.

The Purple Raiders are 10-0 overall, and won its 28th Ohio Athletic Conference title to claim one of 25 automatic bids to the tournament.

Mount Union has an 94-16 record in NCAA Playoff games and the Raiders have advanced to the Stagg Bowl 19 times since 1993 with a record 12 National Championships.

Mount Union has now made the tournament a record 29 times and 26 years in row.

Washington & Lee is 8-2 overall and the Generals are in the tournament as the champions of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference.

W & L is making its fifth ever NCAA Playoff appearance, first since 2015 and are 0-4 in playoff games.

Bracketology: For the 13th 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, two spots was for teams that are an independent or in conferences not granted automatic bids and the final five spots are national at-large bids.

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

The Series: This will be the first ever meeting between the teams.

Up Next: The winner of this game will take on the winner of a matchup between Illinois Wesleyan and Case Western Reserve Saturday, November 25 at noon at a location to be announced.

Scouting the Generals: Washington & Lee was 2-2 after dropping its conference opener to Emory & Henry on September 30 but since then the Generals have won six-straight and claimed the ODAC title to get in the playoffs. Even more impressive this streak happened after the Generals lost their starting quarterback and one of their starting running backs.

W & L runs a version of the option out of a shotgun formation on offense averging over 60 rushing attempts per game. The Generals are second in the nation in rushing averaging 421 yards per game on the ground. Freshman option back Josh Breece is among national leaders as he has ran for 1,656 yards on 205 carries (8.1 per carry) for 18 touchdowns. Junior back Collin Sherman also has 700 yards rushing with nine touchdowns.

On defense, preseason All-American senior linebacker Max Garrett leads the unit with 106 tackles on the season. Freshman defensive linemand Andrew Frailer has 7.5 tackles for loss and 5.0 sacks while senior Grey Reames has four interceptions for a group that allows 387 yards and 23 points per game. 

Passing Fancy: Mount Union sophomore quarterback D'Angelo Fulford (Miramar, Fla. / Miramar) has completed a nation's best 72-percent of his passes on the season going 131-of-182 for 2,316 yards. He also leads the nation with 42 touchdown passes and with just one interecption all of this makes him the nation's highest rated passer with a 253.9 passer rating. He also leads the nation in yards per pass attempt (12.73) and points responsible for per game (28.2).

Picks Plenty: Junior Danny Robinison (Massillon/Massillon Washington) had a huge interception on the final play of the third quarter last week at John Carroll. The Blue Streaks had rallied to tie the game and Robinson's pick set up what turned out to be the go ahead TD for the Raiders. It was the 17th interception of the year for the Mount Union defense which has taken a school record six of those back for scores. It was the first interception of the year for Robinson, who is second on the team in tackles with 51.

Sparkling JEM: Junior Jawanza Evans-Morris (Coral Springs, Fla. / Taravella) had his fourth 100-yard rushing performance of the season with a career-best 110 yards at John Carroll last week. On the season, he leads the team in rushing with 808 yards on 106 carries (7.6 per carry) with eight touchdowns.

Dear Season: Senior linebacker Charlie Dear (Massillon/Jackson) leads the team with 59 tackles on the season. Along with Dear, fellow seniors Michael Vidal (Miami, Fla. / Ronald Reagan Doral) and Elijah Berry (Dublin / Scioto) are leading the team up front. Vidal has 8.5 tackles for loss and 5.0 sacks while Berry has 13.0 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks.

Titletown: Mount Union's win last week gave them its record 28th OAC football title and gave the Purple Raiders the automatic bid to the NCAA Football Playoffs that start next week. It will be Mount Union's record 29th playoff appearance.

Team Captains: Mount Union has five senior team captains in 2017 --  linebacker Charlie Dear, wide receiver Braeden Friss (Avon/Avon), safety Brian Groves (Stow/Stow), offensive lineman Cole Parrish (Creedmoor, N.C. / South Granville) 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.