The 2019 Mount Union football team was built to win again, and yet they will be home this holiday season. The number one offense in Division Three, North Central College came into Saturday ready to surprise, and that’s what they did. The Raiders walked off their home field wondering how the scoreboard read North Central 59, Mount Union 52. Let’s break down how Mount Union had their earliest exit since 1994.
Offense: Both teams scored fast and with impressive plays and stats. D’Angelo Fulford and Justin Hill faced Broc Rutter and Andrew Kamienski. Fulford was 23-34 for 549 yards and four touchdowns. His top receiver Hill caught for 221 yards and a touchdown. Rutter went 22-36 for 522 yards and five touchdowns. His top target Kamienski had 12 catches for 256 yards and four touchdowns. North Central running back, Ethan Greenfield carried the ball 27 times for 130 yards and two touchdowns. Mount Union’s closest runner to Greenfield was Fulford with 124 yards on 21 carries and two touchdowns.
Defense: The pressure was on for both defenses because of the high scoring. It was apparent that whichever team could get turnovers or a timely stop would be the hero for their team. Mount Union found success with an interception from Jalen Griffin and two sacks by Andrew Roesche, one of which resulted in a fumble. The Cardinals had four sacks and forced Fulford to fumble and throw an interception. Mount gave up 699 yards, while North Central gave up 698.
The Difference: This was an amazing and memorable game, but that just means little differences would add up to make the final difference. While D’Angleo Fulford had impressive rushing stats, the Cardinal defense eliminated Josh Petruccelli. The Junior Running back had only 25 yards, rushing on 10 carries; his longest run of the day was eight yards. While Fulford rushed well, the fact is the Cardinals eliminated a big part of the Mount Union offense. Another notable difference was that while Mount Union won the second quarter, North Central controlled the third to put the pressure on for the final quarter. Mount Union won the second quarter 24-21 to give themselves a 10-point lead at halftime, but the Cardinals won the third quarter 21-7. The Raiders entered the fourth quarter trailing and searching for answers. All the pressure was theirs.
Final Note: Mount Union’s exit hurt because of how great the team was. That can’t be forgotten. This was an experienced senior lead team with accolades galore. Multiple players exited with their name in the record books, the team voted nine captains to lead, and the OAC belonged to Mount Union once again. While the Raiders held no Stagg Bowl trophy, the culture of this program means every player will hold their head high.