Kmic Sets Rushing Record In Mount Union Win
ALLIANCE, Ohio (AP) - Nate Kmic gained 310 yards and scored three touchdowns to become college football's career rushing leader and lift Mount Union to a 45-24 win over Wheaton in the NCAA Division III semifinals on Saturday.
Kmic broke the record on a 42-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. He has 7,986 career yards, 24 more than the record set by Danny Woodhead of Chadron State in 2004-07.
"It's something special, but right now I'm more happy to be going back to the championship game," the 5-foot-9 Kmic said after his fifth consecutive game of more than 200 yards rushing helped Mount Union (14-0) advance to Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl for the 12th time.
The top-ranked Purple Raiders will be seeking their 10th national title in a rematch in Salem, Va., on Dec. 20 against No. 4 Wisconsin-Whitewater (13-1), which defeated Mary-Hardin Baylor 39-13 in Saturday's other semifinal.
The teams will meet for the fourth year in a row for the championship. A year ago, Whitewater beat Mount Union 31-21, snapping the Purple Raiders' 37-game winning streak. Mount Union defeated the Warhawks in the title game in 2005 and 2006.
"I felt I let last year's seniors down and they will be in my thoughts all week," said Kmic, who was held to 121 yards on 30 carries in the 2007 final.
He nearly tripled that against Wheaton. The Thunder (11-3) had won three straight road playoff games to reach the semifinals for the first time in six postseason trips, but lost one fumble that led to a Mount Union score, dropped a potential touchdown pass at the goal line, and couldn't contain Kmic.
"I said coming in that I didn't care if they passed for 500 yards against us, I didn't want (Kmic) running," Wheaton coach Mike Swider said. "So what did he do? He's that good."
Kmic also scored on runs of 49 and 17 yards in his 14th career game of at least 200 yards on the ground. It was his third game of 300-plus-yards rushing, all in the postseason. His 129 touchdowns and 774 career points are also more than any player at any level of college football.
"I can't say anything that matches his numbers," Mount Union coach Larry Kehres said. "I guess what's even more impressive is there's never been a better practice player than Nate. The young guys can just watch him and learn."
Quarterback Greg Micheli completed 19 of 26 passes for 225 yards for Mount Union. He had first-half scoring passes of 11 yards to Cecil Shorts and 20 yards to A.J. Claycomb.
Wheaton's Sean Norris went 16-of-34, including TD passes of 29 yards to Alex Pokorny and 41 yards to Freddy Ellis, who also dropped a potential score at the goal line in the final seconds of the first half. Kyle Bradley passed 10 yards to Pokorny with 3:44 to play.
Wheaton dropped to 9-6 in postseason play.
"We're 0-and-6 against these guys and 9-0 against everybody else," Swider said. "We could have made it a little closer, but the best team won. Larry has an incredible program."
Mount Union has outscored opponents 791-126 this season and has college football's best overall record since 1990 at 244-11-1.