Football: #1 Mount Union Plays #13 Johns Hopkins in Semifinals; Winner to Stagg Bowl

The 2018 Mount Union captains - Nick Brish, Louis Berry, Jared Ruth, Danny Robinson and Luke Herrington (Photo by Steven Kachilla)
The 2018 Mount Union captains - Nick Brish, Louis Berry, Jared Ruth, Danny Robinson and Luke Herrington (Photo by Steven Kachilla)

NCAA Semifinals
#1 Mount Union Purple Raiders (13-0) 
vs. #13 Johns Hopkins (Md.) Blue Jays (12-1)

The Matchup: No. 1 ranked University of Mount Union hosts No. 13 ranked Johns Hopkins (Md.) University in the national semifinals of the 2018 NCAA Division III Football Playoffs Saturday, Dec. 8 at 12 p.m. at Mount Union Stadium.
 
The Purple Raiders are 13-0 overall, defeated Denison 60-0 in the first round, Centre (Ky.) 51-35 in the second round then No. 22 Muhlenberg (Pa.) in the quarterfinals 38-10 and have college football's longest win streak at 28 games.
 
Mount Union won its 29th Ohio Athletic Conference title to claim one of 26 automatic bids to the tournament. Mount Union is in its 30th tournament appearance and has an 102-16 record in NCAA Playoff games and the Raiders have advanced to the Stagg Bowl 20 times since 1993 with a record 13 National Championships. 
 
Johns Hopkins, located in Baltimore, Md., is 12-1 overall and defeated MIT, 49-0, in the first round, went to No. 6 Frostburg State (Md.) in the second round and won 58-27 then came home to beat No. 23 RPI (N.Y.) 37-14 in the quarterfinals.   
  
The Blue Jays got in the tournament by winning the Centennial Conference title and are in the semifinals for the first time while making their 10th playoff appearance with a 9-9 record in playoff games. 
 
Series History: This will be the third-ever meeting between between the schools. Mount Union has won each of the previous meetings both in playoff games -- 55-13 in a 2012 second round game in Ohio and a 28-21 second round win in 2016 in Baltimore.
 
Bracketology: For the 14th 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 26 conference champions, one spot was for a team from a conference not granted an automatic bid 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.
 
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: The winner of this game advances to the national championship game -- Stagg Bowl -- against either No. 2 Mary Hardin-Baylor or No. 4 Wisconsin-Whitewater Friday, Dec. 14 at 7 p.m. at Woodforest Stadium in Shenandoah, Texas. If Mount Union advances, it would be its 21st national title game appearance.
 
On the Air: ESPN will broadcast LIVE on ESPN3, its digital platform, and the ESPN mobile app. 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 563-999-3112.
 
Scouting the Blue Jays: Johns Hopkins has a high powered offense and a stout defense. The Blue Jays have Division III's No. 1 total offense averaging 564.4 yards per game.
 
At the controls of that offense is junior quarterback David Tammaro who has completed 67-percent of his passes for 3,861 yards with 35 touchdowns to five interceptions.
 
His top targets are sophomore Ryan Hubley (78 rec., 886 yards, 7 TDs) and senior Luke McFadden (39 rec., 675 yards, 9 TDs). On the ground, senior Stuart Walters has 1,011 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns. The Centennial Conference Offensive Player of the Year has five 300-plus passing yard performances this season.
 
The defense has allowed opponents 301.2 yards and 14.7 points per game along with 93 tackles for loss and 40 sacks. Freshman linebacker Robert Fletcher leads the team in tackles with 95.0. Junior defensive end Mike Kalanik has a team-best 10.5 sacks while senior Michael Curry and sophomore  Macauley Kilbane each have three interceptions.
 
83 and Counting: Vince Kehres is 83-4 since taking over as head coach in 2013 and no college coach has won more games over that span. He has been part of 12 of Mount Union's 13 national titles as either a player, assistant coach or head coach.
 
Gimme Five: Mount Union and Johns Hopkins have been two of the winningest teams in NCAA Division III over the last five years.
 
Winningest D-3 teams since 2013
1. Mount Union (83-4) .954
2. Mary Hardin-Baylor (77-5) .939
3. Wisconsin-Whitewater (73-6) .924
4. Johns Hopkins (64-7) .901
5. St. Thomas (Minn.) (61-11) .847
 
Eight is Great: Sophomore running back Josh Petruccelli (Perry) had a career-best 35 carries and 219 yards while scoring three touchdowns last week.
 
He has now ran for over 100 yards in seven of the last eight games and has a total eight 100-yard rushing games on the season. On the season, he has 1,364 yards rushing on 202 carries.
 
Many Happy Returns: Senior Louis Berry (Pittsburgh, Pa. / Shady Side Academy) had his fifth interception of the season last week and it was the fourth one he has taken to the end zone. 
 
Berry also has two fumble recoveries for touchdowns for six total scores and he has also blocked to field goals that have been returned for touchdowns meaning that he has had a hand in eight of the nation's best 13 touchdowns that the Mount Union defense has scored this season.
 
Passing Fancy: Junior D'Angelo Fulford (Miramar, Fla.) leads Division III and is third in all of college football with a passer rating of 194.6. The two players ahead of him are  - Oklahoma's Kyler Murray 205.7  and Alabama's Tua Tagovailoa at 202.3.
 
Fulford threw a touchdown pass last week and now has 35 on the season which is tied with David Tammaro of Johns Hopkins for third-best in NCAA Division III. 
 
Fantastic Four: The Purple Raiders top four tacklers are a quartet of linebackers in sophomore Mitch O'Hara (Avon / Lakewood St. Edward), junior Trey Williams (Cardington / Cardington-Lincoln) and seniors Danny Robinson (Massillon / Washington) and Nick Brish (Brighton, Mich.).
 
Robinson was the OAC's Linebacker of the Year, a semifinalist for the Gagliardi Trophy and he along with Williams were on the all-conference first team while O'Hara and Brish were both second team selections. Brish was also the MVP of the Stagg Bowl a year ago. 
 
Sack Attack: Mount Union leads NCAA Division III with 61 sacks on the season. Trey Williams has a team-best 8.5 sacks as 22 different Raiders have at least 0.5 sack.