Football: All Ohio Matchup in Round Two as #2 Mount Union Hosts #16 Case Western Reserve

Josh Petruccelli (Photo by Michael Yakim)
Josh Petruccelli (Photo by Michael Yakim)

#2 Mount Union Purple Raiders vs #16 Case Western Reserve Spartans

The Matchup: No. 2 ranked University of Mount Union hosts No. 16 ranked Case Western Reserve University in the second round of the 2017 NCAA Division III Football Playoffs Saturday, Nov. 25 at 12 pm at Mount Union Stadium.

The Purple Raiders are 11-0 overall, and won its 28th Ohio Athletic Conference title to claim one of 25 automatic bids to the tournament. Mount Union shutout Washington & Lee 21-0 in the first round. Mount Union has a 95-16 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 is in the tournament for a record 29th time and for the 26th straight year.

Case Western Reserve is 11-0 overall and earned one of five national at-large bids after tying for the title in the Presidents Athletic Conference. The Spartans blanked No. 12 ranked Illinois Wesleyan 28-0 in the first round. Case Western Reserve has made the tournament four times all since 2007 (07, 08, 09, 17) and has a 2-3 record in NCAA 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: The two campuses are only 60 miles apart (CWRU in Cleveland) but have not played on the football field since Case Institute of Technology merged with Western Reserve University to form Case Western Reserve in 1967. Mount Union has a 12-12 record against Case Tech in a series that spanned from 1905-1953 and a 7-12-1 record versus Western Reserve University from 1900-1956.

Up Next: The winner of this game advances to the national quarterfinals against the winner of a matchup between No. 10 Washington & Jefferson and No. 17 Frostburg State Saturday, Dec. 2 at noon at a location to be announced.

Scouting the Spartans: CWRU averages 445.5 yards of total offense and 42.1 points per game while allowing opponents 274.5 yards and 15.4 points per game.

The Spartans offense is led by senior quarterback Rob Cuda, who completes 58-percent of his passes (166-of-287) for 2,585 yards with 28 touchdowns and five interceptions. His top target is junior Justin Phan with 50 catches and 7 TDs. Senior Jacob Burke has 1,079 yards and 17 TDs rushing but came out of last week's game with an injury. Senior fullback Aaron Aguilar took over and ran 27 times for 136 yards with 3 TDs. He had just 48 rushing yards on the season coming into the game.

On defense, senior linebacker Justin McMahon leads the unit with 80 tackles with 8.5 for loss. Junior end Cameron Brown has 10 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks while sophomore defensive back Patrick Crossey has four interceptions.

All-OAC Accolades: Mount Union won four special awards as part of the All-OAC teams picked by the conference's 10 head coaches.

Senior center Cole Parrish got the Ken Wable Award as top offensive lineman, sophomores in quarterback D'Angelo Fulford and wide receiver Justin Hill each picked up the Bob Packard Offensive Back Award and Ed Sherman  Wide Receiver Award respectively while offensive coordinator Chris Kappas was OAC Assistant Coach of the Year.

The quartet led an offense that leads the nation in scoring and 12th in total offense.

Parrish, a team captain, is the anchor on the offensive line, Fulford is nation's highest rated quarterback with a 250.0 rating, Hill tops the OAC in touchdown receptions. Kappas is in his first year as OC after spending the last three seasons as the defensive coordinator and was the 2015 national defensive coordinator of the year.

Along with Parrish, Fulford and Hill, Mount Union had All-OAC first team selections in senior offensive lineman Matt Fitchet, senior kicker Alex Louthan, senior defensive linemen Michael Vidal and Elijah Berry, senior linebacker Charlie Dear, senior defensive back Brian Groves, junior Austin White and sophomore Gabe Brown.

All-OAC second team picks include senior Braeden Friss, junior Jawanza Evans-Morris sophomore offensive lineman Brendan Klaus, senior defensive lineman Adam Mihoci junior linebacker Danny Robinson and junior defensive back Louis Berry.

Juniors in wide receiver Luke Herrington and safety Trevor Cox both earned All-OAC honorable mention honors.

Academic All-District: Seniors in offensive lineman Matt Fitchet and wide receiver Jared Ruth along with junior linebacker Danny Robinson and sophomore offensive lineman Frazier Daniel were all named Academic All-District by the College Sports Information Directors of America and each advance to the Academic All-America ballot.

Team Captains: Mount Union has five senior team captains in 2017 --  linebacker Charlie Dear, wide receiver Braeden Friss, safety Brian Groves, offensive lineman Cole Parrish and defensive lineman Michael Vidal.
 
Headed to the Hall: Former 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 are 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.