Football: #1 Mount Union Picks Off #22 Muhlenberg in NCAA Quarterfinals

Josh Petruccelli (Photo by Steven Kachilla)
Josh Petruccelli (Photo by Steven Kachilla)

ALLIANCE, Ohio – No. 1 ranked Mount Union defeated No. 22 Muhlenberg 38-10 in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division III Football Playoffs during a steady rain Saturday at Mount Union Stadium.

Mount Union's defense got three Muhlenberg (11-2) interceptions, forced a fumble, posted five sacks and 10.0 tackles for loss as the Purple Raiders held the Mules to 152 total yards.  

In the rainy conditions, Mount Union sophomore running back Josh Petruccelli (Perry) grinded out a career-best 219 yards on 35 carries with three touchdowns to pace the offense.

The Purple Raiders (13-0) won their 28 th straight game and advance to next week's national semifinals for the 24th straight year against No. 13 Johns Hopkins (Md.) – a 37-14 win over R.P.I. (N.Y.) next week at a site and time to be announced Sunday.

Mount Union had its first post-season turnovers on each of its first two possessions – a fumble and an interception. The second of those turnovers the Mules went 18 yards and Michael Hnatkowsky tossed a 15-yard scoring pass to Thomas Murphy and Muhlenberg led 7-0.

Petruccelli tied the game with a 14-yard touchdown run on the Raiders next possession then the defense got its first turnover of the game when Ethan McComb (Huntingtown, Md.) sacked Hnatkowsky and forced a fumble that was recovered by Adam Pastor and two plays later D'Angelo Fulford (Miramar, Fla.) threw a five-yard touchdown pass to Justin Hill (Circleville) and the Raiders took a 14-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.

As the rain intensified so did both defenses as the second quarter featured a combined five punts and an interception by Mount Union safety Austin White (Wadsworth) and it remained 14-7 at the half.

After forcing a Muhlenberg punt on the opening possession of the second half, Mount Union drove 55 yards on six plays and extended the lead to 17-7 on a 32-yard field goal from Cory Barnett (Grove City / Teays Valley).

Both teams exchanged punts before Mount Union's defense got its 13th touchdown of the season with a 20-yard interception return by Louis Berry (Pittsburgh, Pa. / Shady Side). It was Berry's fourth interception return for a score and sixth defensive touchdown of the season and gave Mount Union a 24-7 lead.

Muhlenberg converted a Raider fumble into three points early in the fourth quarter with a Todd Sprit 36-yard field goal to make it 24-10 but the rest of the fourth quarter belonged to Petruccelli who ran for 103 yards in the quarter with touchdowns from three and two yards for the 38-10 final.