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Mount Union Football Headed to 2008 Stagg Bowl

December 15, 2008

NCAA PLAYOFFS - 2008 STAGG BOWL

#1 Mount Union College Purple Raiders (14-0)
vs. #4 The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater Warhawks (13-1)

Saturday, Dec. 20, 2008, 11 a.m. - Salem Stadium (7,157) - Salem, VA
Radio: WDPN 1310 AM (Alliance), WRMU 91.1 FM (Alliance)
TV: ESPN2, ESPN2 HD, ESPN360.com (Pam Ward, play-by-play), Ray Bentley (color)
LIVE Stats: www.odaconline.com/staggbowl

THE GAME

No. 1 ranked Mount Union College and No. 4 ranked The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater will meet for a fourth consecutive season in the NCAA Division III National Championship game -- the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl -- Saturday, Dec. 20 at 11 a.m. in Salem, VA. The game will be broadcast LIVE on television on ESPN2, ESPN2HD and ESPN360.com and heard locally on the radio on WDPN 1310AM and WRMU 91.1FM.

It will be the 12th Stagg Bowl visit for the Purple Raiders who have won the game nine times including the 2005 (35-28) and 2006 (35-16) games against UW-Whitewater. Whitewater is making its fourth Stagg Bowl appearance and the Warhawks are the defending championships with a 31-21 win over Mount Union in 2007.

The Purple Raiders (14-0), are making their 12th Stagg Bowl appearance won the Ohio Athletic Conference and its automatic bid into the playoffs and got to this game after a 56-0 first round win over Randolph-Macon (VA), a 42-7 win over Hobart (NY), a 41-14 win against Cortland State (NY) and a 45-24 win against Wheaton (IL). Mount Union is in its 20th NCAA playoff appearance and the nine-time National Champions have a 60-10 record in the playoffs.

Defending national champion UW-Whitewater (13-1) is making its fourth-straight Stagg Bowl appearance after wins at home over 37-7 against St. John’s (MN), a 30-27 win at Willamette (OR), a 34-17 home win against Wartburg (IA) and a 39-13 win at Mary Hardin-Baylor (TX). The Warhawks are making their seventh playoff appearance and have an 18-5 record in postseason play.

MOUNT UNION FOOTBALL ON THE RADIO AND ONLINE

All Mount Union football games will be broadcast on the radio on WDPN 1310 AM and WRMU 91.1 FM and simulcast online at www.muc.edu/athletics, while the website will also feature a live statistics game tracker at home games.

PLAYOFFS ... TALK ABOUT PLAYOFFS

For the fourth year the NCAA Division III Football Championship consists of a 32-team field. In Mount Union’s first appearance in the playoffs in 1985, the field was just 16 teams. This year’s field breaks down like this: Automatic bids will be given to 23 conference champions including Mount Union (OAC), three spots are reserved for teams that are independents or in conference not granted automatic bids and the final six spots are national at-large bids. UW-Whitewater claimed one of those at-large bids as UW-Stevens Point claimed the automatic bid in the WIAC (Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference).

TICKET INFORMATION

Advance tickets are available for sale Monday-Wednesday from 8 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Hoover-Price Campus Center. Advance tickets are $12.50 for adults and $7 for students, while on gameday they are $15 for adults and $7 for students. You can also purchase advance tickets or for further information, call the Salem Civic Center at (540) 375-3004 or e-mail mwhite@ci.salem.va.us.Information for Mount Union fans including bus and transportation options along with lodging and alumni reception information is available on to the Internet at www.mountunion.edu.

THE COACHES

Larry Kehres (Mount Union ‘71) is 274-21-3 (.924) in his 23rd season at his Alma mater. Kehres is one of the most successful coaches in all of college football, as under his tenure, the Purple Raiders have claimed 19 Ohio Athletic Conference championships, including the last 17 in a row and nine of the last 15 NCAA Division III National Championships.

Lance Leipold (UW-Whitewater ‘87) is 27-2 (.955) since taking over at his Alma mater in January of 2007. In his first season as head coach in 2007 he led the Warhawks to a WIAC and National Championship picking up AFCA Division III National Coach of the Year honors. He was a quarterback for the Warhawks and had assistant coaching stints at UW-Whitewater, Wisconsin and Nebraska-Omaha.

THE SERIES

This will be the sixth meeting between the schools with Mount Union holding a 4-1 edge in the series. The teams have met in each of the last three Stagg Bowls with the Raiders winning 35-28 in 2005 and 35-16 in 2006 while the Warhawks won in 2007 31-21. The teams have also played a pair of regular season openers in 2002 and 2003 with Mount Union winning 44-21 in 2002 in Wisconsin and 40-17 in 2003 in Alliance.

SCHEMES

Mount Union will come out in a multiple pro-set formation on offense and a 4-2-5 on defense, while UW-Whitewater employs a multiple pro-set on offense and a 4-3 on defense.

MOUNT UNION CAPTAINS

Seniors in defensive back Daryl Ely (Winter Springs, FL/Winter Springs), running back Nate Kmic (Delta/Delta), quarterback Greg Micheli (Upper Sandusky/Upper Sandusky) and linebacker Chas Yoder (Martins Ferry/Martins Ferry) were selected by their teammates as captains for the 2008 season.

SCOUTING THE WARHAWKS

UW-Whitewater returns to the Stagg Bowl after replacing a host of key players from a year ago and has a running back that has come on strong in the playoffs ... sound familiar.

The Warhawks won on the legs of 2,000-yard back Justin Beaver and his 249 yards. This year, Beaver, along with 16 starters, are gone but a pair of runners have taken his place. Freshman Levell Coppage (1,471 yards and 21 TDs) and sophomore Antwan Anderson (1,114 yards and 11 TDs) pace the Warhawk offense. Coppage has had eight 100-yard rushing games this season, while Anderson has ran for 684 yards in the NCAA Playoffs. Quarterback Jeff Donovan adds balance with 15 touchdowns and 2,419 yards passing. His favorite target is Aaron Rusch, who has 1,054 yards on 77 catches, with six touchdowns receiving.

On defense, Wisconsin-Whitewater is just as good as they were last season when they held Mount Union to a season-low 21 points. It was the fewest points the Purple Raiders had scored since Oct. 21, 2006. This season they are allowing just 12.2 points per game. A big reason for that is do-it-all linebacker Jace Rindahl. He is second on the team with 98 tackles, leads the team with five interceptions and 8.5 tackles-for-loss.

STREAKS

Mount Union has the best winning percentage and most wins in all of college football since 1990 (244-11-1/.954). The Raiders also hold the NCAA’s two longest consecutive college football win streaks -- 55 games from 2000-2003 and 54 games from 1996-99. Mount Union currently holds the nation’s longest active regular season win streak at 33 games.

TURNOVER IMPORTANCE

Since 1996, the Raiders are 95-0 when winning the turnover battle. Since 1990, Mount Union is 140-1 when winning the turnover battle with that lone loss coming in the 1995 NCAA Playoff semifinals in a 20-17 loss to Wisconsin-LaCrosse. In that game, the Raiders had a +1 turnover margin.

KMIC NCAA DIVISION III’S TOP RUNNING BACK

In his 55th and final home game last week, Nate Kmic ran for 310 yards on 29 carries with three touchdowns against Wheaton to give him 7,986 yards and NCAA all-time rushing record passing Danny Woodhead (2004-07) of Chadron State (NE) College, who had 7,962 yards. Other milestones he has or is close to include ...

• Kmic has more touchdowns (129) and has scored more points (774) than any other player at any level in college football history.

• Kmic’s 42 rushing touchdowns and 43 total touchdowns this season are the most in a single season in college football history.

• Kmic has NCAA D-III records for most games scoring a touchdown (49) and games scoring two or more touchdowns (40).

• Kmic has a NCAA Division III record 36 games with more than 100 yards rushing.He has 14 games with more than 200 yards rushing and four games with more than 300 yards rushing.

• Kmic has 2,702 yards rushing this season is a new NCAA D-III single-season record besting the 2,455 by UW-Whitewater’s Justin Beaver in 2007.

• Kmic and running back Scott Panchick (Natrona Hts, PA/Natrona Hts.) (466 yds. rushing) have combined for 3,168 yards rushing which is a new NCAA D-III record for most rushing yards gained by two players on the same team. The old mark was 2,901 in 2005 by Justin Beaver and Andy Lange of UW-Whitewater.

• Kmic has 1,167 career carries which is 23 behind the NCAA D-III single season mark of Steve Tardif of Maine Maritime (1996-99).

• In 19 NCAA Playoff games, Kmic has rushed 559 times for 3,798 yards with 48 TD’s, which averages out to 29.4 carries and 199.9 yards per game.

MICHELI GAGLIARDI TROPHY FINALIST

Senior quarterback Greg Micheli is a finalist for the Gagliardi Trophy given to the top all-around football player in NCAA Division III. If Micheli wins, he would be the fifth Purple Raider to win the trophy joining Jim Ballard (1993), Bill Borchert (1997), Chuck Moore (2001) and Dan Pugh (2002). He is the nation’s top rated passer with a 208.8 passer rating. Micheli has completed 75.7-percent of his passes (228-of-301) for 3,481 yards and 34 TD passes with just two INT’s. For his career, he is 566-of-761 (74.4%) for 8,217 with 79 TD’s to just nine interceptions. His career passer rating is 197.0 makes him the highest rated passer in college football history just ahead of former Purple Raider Bill Borchert (1994-97) who had a 194.2 rating. Micheli, who maintains a 3.84 grade point average with a double major in Physics and Math, is the Academic All-American of the Year and he has already claimed an $18,000 post-graduate scholarship as one of 15 finalists (all-divisions) for the Draddy Trophy, which is known as the Academic Heisman.

SHORTS GETS TO 70

Junior wide receiver Cecil Shorts III (Cleveland/Collinwood) had a four catches last week against Wheaton to give him 70 on the season. He is the fifth reciever in school-history to catch at least 70 in a season. Shorts also had a touchdown catch last week to set a new school and OAC single-season records with 21 TD receptions on the season. 11 of those scores are from 20 yards or more, with a 22-yard score at Otterbein, a 41-yard score at Wilmington, 69 and 40 yard scores against Capital, 68 and 27-yard scores at B-W, 55 and 40 yard scores at Muskingum, a 20-yarder against Ohio Northern and a 35 and 36-yard scores against St. John Fisher. He also had a 38-yard catch that did not go for a score against Otterbein and a 44-yard catch against Randolph-Macon.

PETRUZIELLO NO PROBLEM BEING NO. 2

Junior wide reciever Vince Petruziello (Mentor/Lake Catholic) is second to Cecil Shorts on the season with 52 catches for 763 yards, but in two of the playoff games including last week he was No. 1 as he had a career nine catches for 133 yards.

SACK ATTACK

Mount Union’s defense had four sacks last week as the Raiders are No. 1 in the nation with 49 sacks on season. Junior OAC Defensive Lineman of the Year James Herbert (Sagamore Hills/Nordonia) leads the unit and the nation with 14 on the season and fellow junior and defensive lineman Matt Williamson (Columbus/DeSales) is second with 8.5. Sophomore linebacker Sam Kershaw (West Jefferson/West Jefferson) replaced injured senior Troy Chaffin (Collins/Collins Western Reserve) eight games ago and leads the team in tackles with 73, while senior linebacker Chas Yoder (Martins Ferry/Martins Ferry) is second with 70 stops.

DID YOU KNOW?

Former Mount Union wide receiver Pierre Garcon is in his rookie season with the Indianapolis Colts. Garcon, a sixth round draft pick (No. 205), ranks among NFL rookie leaders in kickoff return yards. He also has 12 special teams tackles this season. This week Garcon and the rest of the Colts play Thursday night at Jacksonville.

UW-Whitewater is part of the state school system in the state of Wisconsin. The University of Wisconsin in state is refered to as UW-Madison. Whitewater is a little over 40 miles southeast of Madison and UW-Whitewater has 10,700 students and Division III’s largest football stadium in the 13,500 seat Perkins Stadium.

Including the regular season finale at Marietta, Nate Kmic has 1,263 yards and 18 TD’s rushing over the last five games.

Mount Union’s defense has held 10 opponents under 200 total yards this season.

This week Mount Union is playing its 14th game on an artificial surfrace. The regular season game at Otterbein was the only one on natural grass.

This game features two coaches coaching at their Alma maters as Larry Kehres is a 1971 Mount Union graduate and Lance Leipold is a 1987 UW-Whitewater graduate. They are two of eight teams in the bracket that are coaches by alums.

For the second week in a row the opponent has a former Purple Raider on staff. Jim Zebrowski is a 1991 Mount Union grad and is in his second season as the offensive coordinator at UW-Whitewater.

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