Football: #1 Mount Union Hosts Marietta in Regular Season Finale

Gabe Brown (Photo by Steven Kachilla)
Gabe Brown (Photo by Steven Kachilla)

#1 Mount Union Purple Raiders vs Marietta Pioneers

 
The Matchup: No. 1 ranked Mount Union wraps up the regualr season hosting Marietta in an Ohio Athletic Conference game Saturday at 1:30 p.m. at Mount Union Stadium in Alliance. 
 
Mount Union clinched a share of its 29th OAC title and secured its 30th posteason bid with a 52-10 win at Muskingum last week. 
 
The win made the Raiders 9-0 overall and 8-0 in the OAC taking college football longest active win streak to 24 games.
 
Mount Union junior quarterback D'Angelo Fulford (Miramar, Fla.) completed 14-of-18 passes for 236 yards and three touchdowns.
 
His top targets were seniors Luke Herrington (Wintersville / Steubenville) and Jared Ruth (Indianapolis, Ind. / Pike). Herrington had four catches for 112 yards with two scores while Ruth had six catches for 90 yards.
 
Junior Justin Hill (Circleville) also caught a touchdown pass and sophomore Josh Petruccelli (Perry) had 68 rushing yards on 16 carries with two touchdowns.
 
The Mount Union defense got a sack from senior linebacker Danny Robinson (Massillon / Washington), junior Andrew Roesch (Avon) had 4.0 tackles for loss and senior Gabe Brown (Plant City, Fla. / Durant) had an interception and returned a Louis Berry (Pittsburgh, Pa. / Shady Side Academy) blocked field goal 80 yards for a score.
 
Marietta senior quarterback Darrien Fields led the Pioneers to a 43-21 win at Otterbein last week. Marietta improved to 7-2 overall and 6-2 in the OAC and the seven wins equaled the most victories in a season for the Pioneers since going 7-3 in 1996.
 
Fields had a record setting day passing for a school record 414 yards on 28-of-33 passing with three touchdowns.
 
Junior running back Tanner Clark went over the 100-yard rushing mark for the eighth time this season finishing with 105 yards and one touchdown on 23 carries.
 
The Pioneer defense set the tone on the first play from scrimmage. Tay Pryor (GlenOak) intercepted Otterbein quarterback Bryce Hall's pass and returned it 40 yards for the pick-six and a lightning quick 7-0 Marietta lead.
 
Marietta got two interceptions on the day and held Otterbein to 38 yards rushing.
 
Team Captains: Mount Union has five team captains in wide receivers Luke Herrrington (Wintersville/Steubenville) and Jared Ruth (Indianapolis, Ind./Pike), safety Nick Brish (Milford, Mich./Brighton), linebacker Danny Robinson (Massillon/Massillon Washington) and defensive back Louis Berry (Pittsburgh, Pa./Shady Side Academy).
 
Up Next: Mount Union waits until 5:30 p.m. Sunday to find out who and where it will be playing in the first round of the NCAA Playoffs next Saturday. The announcement of the bracket will be made in an online show on ncaa.com.
 
Scouting the Pioneers: Marietta comes in at 7-2 overall and 6-2 in the OAC which already is the best season for the Pioneers since going 8-1-1 in 1995. Marietta started the season 6-0 which was its best start to a season since 1920. 
 
The Pioneers are second in the OAC in total offense (469.6 yards per game) and eighth in total defense (441.8 yards allowed per game). 
 
A dynamic duo of senior quarterback Darrien Fields and junior running back Tanner Clark lead the offense for Marietta.
 
Fields is second in the OAC averaging 265.2 passing yards per game and 22 touchdowns. He has completed 69.4-percent of his passes with just four interceptions.
 
Clark is fourth in NCAA Division III in rushing with 1,420 yards and third nationally in rushing touchdowns with 19. 
 
Sophomore Maguire Morris has a team-best 50 catches for 578 yards with two touchdowns as nine different Pioneers have caught a scoring pass.
 
On defense, senior linebacker Garrett Davis leads the team in tackles, sophomore Kyle Gallagher has 5.5 sacks while senior Javi Zaragoza  has four interceptions.
 
Series History: This is the 57th meeting between the teams with Mount Union holding a 47-8-1 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 37 of those meetings. The last Pioneer win was a 20-6 decision in 1977 in Marietta. 
 
A year ago, Mount Union forced six Marietta turnovers for the game while the offense scored on seven of its eight first half possessions to get out to a 45-3 halftime lead on their way to a 69-3 win.
 
Line Items: Mount Union leads the nation in tackles for loss allowed at 3.22 per game. Five juniors start across the Raiders offensive line in Sean Sherman (Hamilton / Bishop Fenwick), Jonny Todd (Canton / GlenOak), Tavis Stitka (Creston / Norwayne), Brendan Klaus (Brighton, Mich.) and Stephen Sumner (Miamisburg).
 
Herrington Hits 100 Again: Senior wide receiver Luke Herrington (Wintersville / Steubenville) had a pair of touchdown catches and 112 yards receving last week at Muskingum. Over the last two weeks, he has had the first two 100-yard receiving performances of his career.
 
Great Eight: At Muskingum last week, Louis Berry (Pittsburgh, Pa. / Shady Side Academy) blocked a field goal attempt for the second time this season and for the second time this season it was returned for a touchdown. Gabe Brown (Plant City, Fla. / Durant) picked up the ball and went 80 yards last week. It marked the eighth defensive touchdown for the Raiders this season.
 
We The North: Mount Union is ranked No. 1 in the first NCAA North Region rankings of the season. The rankings are used to pick at-large teams and seed the teams for the NCAA Division III Playoffs. 
 
The NCAA Division III Playoffs is a five-week, 32-team tournament that begins November 17. Twenty-six of the spots in the tourney are automatic bids earned by conference champions, one spot is reserved for independents and their are five national at-large bids. One more regional poll will be done Sunday to make the final selections
 
NCAA North Region Rankings
1. Mount Union
2. North Central (Ill.)
3. John Carroll
4. Trine (Ind.)
5. Baldwin Wallace
6. Wabash (Ind.)
7. Wittenberg
8. Franklin (Ind.)
9. Illinois Wesleyan
10. Wheaton (Ill.)