Mount Union clobbers Wesley 70-21 in D III semifinal
ALLIANCE, Ohio (AP) Kevin Burke has only lost one game in three years as Mount Union's starting quarterback. He will have the opportunity to avenge it in the Stagg Bowl.
Burke threw a career-high seven touchdowns and ran for another Saturday, leading the Purple Raiders to a 70-21 win over Wesley (Delaware) in the NCAA Division III semifinals.
The victory earned Mount Union (14-0) its 10th straight trip to the title game, where it will face defending champion Wisconsin-Whitewater on Dec. 19 in Salem, Virginia. Wisconsin-Whitewater defeated Linfield 20-14 in Saturday's other semifinal.
Wisconsin-Whitewater beat the Purple Raiders 52-14 in last year's championship contest, handing Burke his one defeat in 44 career games.
''We are a different team than last year, and we're ready to get back down there,'' said Burke, who completed 26 of 41 passes for a career-high 415 yards. ''We're not barely scooting by teams, we're killing it on all cylinders now. We can score a heck of a lot of points at any point in a game.''
Taurice Scott, Luc Meacham and Sherman Wilkinson each caught two of Burke's touchdown tosses, while Tim Kennedy hauled in one. Mount Union built a 70-0 third-quarter lead in extending its home winning streak to 85 games.
The Purple Raiders, who have won a record 11 national titles, will be making their 18th appearance in the championship game. Their most recent crown occurred in 2012, when they beat St. Thomas (Minnesota) 28-10.
''I think Mount Union is going to kick somebody's (butt) next week,'' Wolverines coach Mike Drass said. ''Why? Because they just beat a team up and down the field that won 12 games against some pretty good competition. I hope they win it, and I sincerely mean that.''
Burke, who leads the nation with 49 touchdown passes this season, didn't flinch when told of Drass' prediction.
''He's absolutely right,'' the senior said. ''We just go out and execute and get the job done.''
Wesley (12-2) was eliminated from the playoffs by the Purple Raiders for the second year in a row. It lost 62-59 at Mount Union Stadium in the 2013 quarterfinals.
Tre Jones returned an interception 85 yards and B.J. Mitchell had a 1-yard run to account for the Purple Raiders' other touchdowns. Scott was their top receiver with 10 catches for 160 yards, while Mitchell rushed for a game-high 93 yards on 12 carries.
''We've grown up quite a bit from last year when we had a reality check in the championship game,'' said Jones, a junior cornerback. ''That loss is behind us, but it's always been in the back of our minds. We didn't like the way it felt.''
Wolverines quarterback Joe Callahan rushed for a 1-yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter. He went 39-of-69 passing for 440 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions.
Wide receiver Steve Koudoussou made a playoff record-tying 17 receptions for 256 yards and one score for Wesley, whose lone regular season loss was at FCS member Charlotte.
Mount Union scored 28 points in the first and second quarters and tacked on 14 more in the third.
Burke fired four touchdowns in the opening period, threw and ran for one in the second, and tossed two scores in the third before being given the rest of the afternoon off.
''We were able to put our foot on the gas and keep it there for a little while,'' Purple Raiders coach Vince Kehres said. ''That's another difference between last year and this season. Right now, our team is peaking. We're fresh, healthy and we're not wearing down.''
Mount Union has won 23 straight Ohio Athletic Conference titles and is 86-14 all-time in NCAA playoff games. The Wolverines play an independent schedule and are 25-11 in postseason contests.