Football: #1 Raiders Ready and Rarin’ to Go to First Stagg Bowl in Texas

Football: #1 Raiders Ready and Rarin’ to Go to First Stagg Bowl in Texas

2018 Stagg Bowl 

1 Mount Union Purple Raiders vs.
#2 Mary Hardin-Baylor Crusaders

Friday, Dec. 14 - 7 p.m. eastern
Woodforest Bank Stadium 
Shenandoah, Texas
 
TV: ESPNU: 
Mike Couzens (play-by-play), Kirk Morrison (color), Paul Carcaterra (sidelines
 
RADIO:
WDPN 1310 AM: Sam Bourquin (play-by-play), T.J. Downing (color) 
WRMU 91.1 FM: Joe Mertens (play-by-play), Billy Beebe (color) Will Brienza (sideline)
 
 
SOCIAL MEDIA:
@purpleraiders (twitter, facebook, instagram) 
#gomountgo
 
MOUNT INFO: Game Notes | Record Book 
 
Watch Parties, Travel Information, Etc: https://www.mountunion.edu/events/stagg-bowl-2018
 
The Matchup: No. 1 ranked University of Mount Union plays No. 2 ranked University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in the national championship game of the 2018 NCAA Division III Football Playoffs -- The Stagg Bowl -- Friday, Dec. 14 at 7 p.m. (eastern) at Woodforest Bank Stadium in Shenandoah, Texas.
 
The Purple Raiders are 14-0 overall, and won their 29th Ohio Athletic Conference title to claim one of 26 automatic bids to the tournament. 
 
Mount Union shutout Denison 60-0 in the first round, defeated Centre (Ky.) 51-35 in the second round, beat No. 22 Muhlenberg (Pa.) 38-10 in the quarterfinals and defeated No. 13 Johns Hopkins (Md.) 28-20 in the semifinals.
 
Mount Union has an 103-16 record in NCAA Playoff games and the Raiders have advanced to the Stagg Bowl 21 times since 1993 with a record 13 National Championships.
 
Mount Union is in the tournament for a record 30th time and for the 27th straight year while currently holding the nation's longest win streak at 29 games.
 
Mary Hardin-Baylor is 14-0 and won the American Southwest Conference title to get in the tournament. 
 
The Crusaders beat Hardin-Simons (Texas) 27-6 in the first round, Berry (Ga.) 75-9 in the second round, No. 4 St. John's (Minn.) 21-18 in the quarterfinals and a 31-14 win over Wisconsin-Whitewater in the semifinals.
 
In just its 21st season of football, Mary Hardin-Baylor is in the tournament for a 17th time with a record of 40-15. The Crusaders won the 2016 national title and are making their fourth Stagg Bowl appearance.
 
Series History: This will be the fifth all-time meeting between the teams after a four memorable NCAA playoff meetings.
  • In the 2004 semifinals, Mary Hardin-Baylor rallied from a 35-21 deficit in the fourth quarter to win 38-35 at Mount Union Stadium.
  • In the 2012 semifinals, Mount Union scored 34 points in the fourth quarter to rally from being down 28-14 and won 48-35 at Mount Union Stadium.
  • In the 2016 semifinals, Mary Hardin-Baylor survived a fourth quarter rally from the Raiders to win 14-12 at Crusader Stadium in Texas.
  • In the 2017 Stagg Bowl, Mount Union posted the first shutout in the national title game since 1982 with a 12-0 win over Mary Hardin-Baylor at Salem Stadium in Salem, Va.
On the Air: ESPNU will broadcast LIVE on television and it will be online at ESPN.com 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 Cru: Mary Hardin-Baylor leads the nation in both scoring offense (55.5 points per game) and scoring defense (7.9 points allowed per game).
 
The defense is third in the nation giving up just 213.6 yards per game and have intercepted a nation's best 31 passes. 
 
Sophomore Jefferson Fritz set school and conference records with 11 of those interceptions. He also has seven pass break-ups and 37 total tackles on the year. Fritz was voted American Southwest (ASC)Defensive Player of the Year and was an AFCA All-American. The Cru has another All-American on defense in junior tackle Joey Longoria, who has 62 total tackles and 12.0 tackles for loss to go with a team-high 8.0 sacks.
 
The offense is led by All-American senior Markeith Miller, who has rushed for 1,774 yards and a school and conference record 29 touchdowns on the year. He also broke school and conference career records for rushing yardage and rushing touchdowns this season while earning ASC Offensive Player of the Year honors.
 
Special teams have always been special at MHB and this year is no exception as it leads the nation in punt returns (26.17 yards per return) while freshman Aaron Sims leads the nation with five punt returns for touchdowns.
 
84 and Counting: Vince Kehres is 84-4 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.
 
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.
 
Success Over the Long Haul: Mount Union and Mary-Hardin Baylor are the only two Division III programs in the country to win at least one playoff game in each of the last 14 seasons.
 
Both have been the two winningest teams in NCAA Division III over the last five years.
 
Winningest D-3 teams since 2013
1. Mount Union (84-4) .955
2. Mary Hardin-Baylor (78-5) .940
3. Wisconsin-Whitewater (73-7) .912
4. Johns Hopkins (64-8) .888
5. St. Thomas (Minn.) (61-11) .847
 
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).
 
Running on Petro: Sophomore running back Josh Petruccelli (Perry) has rushed for over 100 yards in all four playoff games this season as he 28 carries for 110 yards last week.
 
He has now ran for over 100 yards in eight of the last nine games and has a total nine 100-yard rushing games on the season. On the season, he has 1,474 yards rushing on 230 carries.
 
To The House: Mount Union scored two more defensive touchdowns last week on interception returns of 90 yards by Trevor Cox (Hilliard / Darby) and 76 yards from Gabe Brown (Plant City, Fla. / Durant) which now gives the Raiders a nation's best 15 defensive scores. In fact, the 15 touchdowns are more than 13 NCAA Division III teams scored on offense this season. 
 
Two Earn All-America Honors: Mount Union senior defensive back Louis Berry (Pittsburgh, Pa. / Shady Side Academy) and junior quarterback D'Angelo Fulford (Miramar, Fla.) have been named to the American Football Coaches Association All-America teams.
 
Berry is a first team defensive back who has started all 14 games so far this season for the Purple Raiders. He has scored six of Mount Union's nation leading 15 defensive touchdowns this season with an NCAA Division III record four interception returns for a score, two fumble returns for scores. In fact he has had a hand in two more defensive touchdowns as he has blocked a pair of field goal attempts that were returned for scores. He was also named the Ohio Athletic Conference Lee Tressel Defensive Back of the Year and was an all-conference first team selection.
 
Fulford has played in 13 games and been at the helm of the nation's No. 2 scoring offense (51.1 points per game). He has completed 64-percent of his passes for 2,643 yards with 37 touchdowns. He was named the OAC's Bob Packard Offensive Back of the Year for a second straight year along with being an All-OAC first team pick.
 
Linebacker UMU: 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 67 sacks on the season. Trey Williams has a team-best 9.5 sacks as 22 different Raiders have at least 0.5 sack.
 
Hill Climbing: Junior wide receiver Justin Hill (Circleville) caught two TDs last week and now 50 catches on the year with 14 TDs. He was the OAC Receiver of the Year for a second straight year.