Saturday, December 16, 2017

Mount Union: 2017 NCAA Division III Football National Champions



CLEVELAND, Ohio -- The Mount Union Purple Raiders capped a memorable season by winning the NCAA Division III football national championship on Friday with a 12-0 victory over defending champion Mary Hardin-Baylor in the final Stagg Bowl game in Salem, Virginia.

The championship was the 13th for Mount Union in 20 Stagg Bowl championship appearances. So winning the final in Salem was special to the Raiders.

"It's really special," Mount Union coach Vince Kehres said after the game. "The people down here are so good to us. ... They're so friendly, so welcoming. This place does a great job of making it special for the teams here."

It was the second national title for Kehres, who took over for his father, Larry Kehres, five seasons ago.

Vince Kehres is now 70-4 since 2013 and led the Raiders to the national title game four times in his five seasons. No college coach has won more games since 2013 than the 70 by Kehres. He has been part of 12 of Mount Union's 13 national titles as either a player, assistant coach or head coach.

Making the season even more special, Larry Kehres was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame last week in New York after leading Mount to 11 national championships. Kehres had a 332-24-3 overall record with 23 OAC championships and his .929 winning percentage is the best among coaches at all levels of college football.

And earlier this week four Raiders were named to the Associated Press Little All-America Division III team: senior center Cole Parrish, senior linebacker Charlie Dear, senior defensive lineman Elijah Berry and sophomore wide receiver Justin Hill.

The Raiders finish the season at 15-0 and now own a 99-16 record in NCAA Playoff games. They have been in the tournament a record 29 times, including 26 consecutive years.

The loss snapped a 29-game winning streak for Mary Hardin-Baylor and evened the series with Mount at 2-2.

Mount Union tallied eight sacks and two interceptions while limiting the Crusaders (14-1) to 144 yards, 75 of which came in the first quarter.

Alex Louthan booted a 31-yard field goal, quarterback D'Angelo Fulford found Hill for a 42-yard touchdown pass and Nick Brish added a late safety for the Purple Raiders on Friday. Brish was named the game's Most Outstanding Player.

"Really hats off all around on defense," Brish said. "We have outstanding defensive linemen, who made it easy on me because they were putting so much pressure on the guy, keeping them in the cage, keeping our landmarks and our pass rushes."

Among those offering congratulations to the Raiders was Iowa State coach Matt Campbell, the Massillon native and Mount Union alum who is getting praised for his work with the Cyclones after four successful seasons at Toledo.
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