Mount Union Tops Wis-Whitewater For D-III Title
SALEM, Va. (AP) - Greg Micheli threw two touchdown passes to Cecil Shorts as Mount Union regained its spot atop Division III football Saturday, beating defending champion Wisconsin-Whitewater 31-26 in the Stagg Bowl.
The Purple Raiders (15-0) won their 10th Division III title - all coming in the past 16 seasons. Mount Union and Wisconsin-Whitewater have played each other for the championship in each of the last four years. The Raiders also won the 2005 and 2006 matchups.
Nate Kmic's first-quarter touchdown was his 16th of the playoffs, a Division III record. He also became the first player in any NCAA division to rush for 8,000 career yards. His 88 yards Saturday gave the senior 8,074 for his career.
But it was Micheli who made the Purple Raiders' offense roll this time. The senior completed 12 of 19 passes for 262 yards and the two TD passes to Shorts. He also rushed for 56 yards. On Thursday, he received the Gagliardi Award given to Division III's outstanding player.
Wisconsin-Whitewater (13-2) couldn't overcome a 21-7 first-half deficit. The Warhawks outgained the Purple Raiders 455-401, but several mistakes cost them dearly.
Kicker Jeff Schebler missed field goal attempts late in the first half and again on the Warhawks' first drive of the second half. Whitewater quarterback Jeff Donovan was also intercepted by Mount Union's Drew McClain on a tipped pass early in the fourth quarter, which McClain returned 78 yards to make the score 31-13.
The Warhawks scored two touchdowns in the last seven minutes, but the comeback ran out of time.
Mount Union, which never led in the 2007 title game, needed under two minutes to pull ahead this time. Four plays into the game, Micheli found a wide-open Shorts, who had beaten Whitewater's Troney Shumpert down the middle of the field, for a 55-yard touchdown pass.
Following a three-and-out by Whitewater, Micheli and Shorts doubled Mount Union's advantage on a similar pass play - this one going 41 yards. With 9:15 still left in the first quarter, the Purple Raiders were up 14-0.
With the help of a 55-yard kickoff return by Aaron Samplawski, the Warhawks got back into the game with the help of a four-play drive that took less than 1:30 and was capped by a 1-yard run by Antwan Anderson, cutting Mount Union's lead to 14-7.
But it didn't take long for the Purple Raiders to regain their two-touchdown cushion. A 75-yard drive was capped by a 2-yard run by Kmic to make the score 21-7.