This year’s Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl was quite a show for the 6,027 fans who were in attendance as the No. 1 Mount Union Purple Raiders took on the No. 3 St. Thomas Tommies. There was plenty of pressure for the Mount Union senior class who had yet to see a Stagg Bowl victory in the last four years against Whitewater. Luckily for them, the only thing St. Thomas had won was the coin toss at the beginning of the game, allowing Mount Union to start off with the ball.
The Purple Raiders dominated the first quarter on the clock and on the scoreboard, starting with senior Jake Simon (Parma Heights, OH) scoring a one-yard touchdown at 2:10 into the game, making the score 7-0, Mount Union. They scored again with 3:37 left through senior Charles Dieuseul (Winter Haven, FL), possessing the ball for 10:10 and ending the quarter Mount Union 14, St. Thomas, 0. In between scores, the Purple Raiders received the first penalty for pass interference and broke two records- most first downs (125) in a tournament (124 set in 2008) and most rushing yards (1,473) during a tournament. They also tied the NCAA record for points in a season, with 78 points, which was set by themselves in 2007.
The second quarter was quite a different story, with the Tommies taking up 13:31 on the clock and scoring a touchdown through sophomore Dan Ferrazzo (Mahtomedi, MN) with a fake field goal attempt within the first two minutes, making the score Mount Union 14, St. Thomas 7. While the Raiders’ offensive run game seemed to momentarily falter, the rest of the quarter consisted of plenty of turnovers and punts on both sides, and no additional points, concluding the half with the same score.
It was a slow start in the second half, becoming more of a defensive game for both teams. St. Thomas started on their own 27, finishing the series 3rd and 23 with an incomplete pass, having to make a 54-yard punt, placing the Purple Raiders at their own 22 yard line. With a Hank Spencer (Greencastle, IN) tackle, the Tommies were put at the 14-yard line. The Tommies’ freshman running back Jack Kaiser (Prior Lake, MN) was stopped short by Purple Raider Nick Driskill (Wabash, IN) for a loss of yards, forcing the Tommies to punt again. Chris Denton (Plantation, FL) dropped the ball and it was recovered by St. Thomas. With a pressured, out of pocket quarterback rush, St. Thomas was forced to score a field goal with kicker Paul Graupner (Minnetonka, MN), making the score 14-10, Mount Union. Jake Simon earned his season high eleventh carry in the next drive and not long after did the Purple Raiders make their next touchdown with a 17-yard reception by Denton. The quarter concluded with Mount Union 21, St. Thomas, 10. Mount Union surpassed their tied record for most points in a season with 85 points.
In the final quarter, Jasper Collins (Geneva, NY) shattered the post-season reception record with 42 receptions. Isaiah Scott (Hamilton, OH) did a leaping catch to intercept the ball from St. Thomas and Mount Union capitalized with a touchdown with eight minutes left in the game. The Raiders’ defense sealed St. Thomas’ fate, concluding the Stagg Bowl with the score Mount Union 28, St. Thomas, 10.
“It’s very heartwarming,” coach Larry Kehres said to the fans and players as Mount Union accepted their championship trophy.
With this Stagg Bowl title, Kehres is ranked fourth in the NCAA’s career wins list among all divisions, reaching 332 victories.
“It was a difficult three years, to see the seniors experience loss in the final game, I felt for them,” Kehres told D3football.com. “But this group inspired me… They were such a dedicated group.”
MVP sophomore Kevin Burke was the only non-senior offensive starter and it is Mount Union’s hope that he will continue to carry this momentum into the next season. All he had to offer as far as the secret to the Purple Raiders’ success this year was:
“We just played Mount Union football.”
The Dynamo has printed a special commemorative issue for the Stagg Bowl victory which was made available to fans immediately after the Raiders were presented with the Walnut and Bronze.