ALLIANCE, Ohio – It was a sport that surpassed all of the information, benchmarks and superlative descriptions of a school soccer sport, postseason or in any other case. The that was sport was pushed by a torrid tempo set by the offenses of each groups left most spectators figuring the end result would come all the way down to the final staff to own the ball.
And that was the case in North Central Faculty’s second-round NCAA Division III playoff sport on the College of Mount Union on Saturday. After all of the factors and yards had been piled up, it was a defensive stand that sealed the end result for the fifth-ranked Cardinals, who took down the Purple Raiders, 59-52, to advance to subsequent week’s nationwide quarterfinal.
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After rolling up practically 700 yards of offense, the Cardinals discovered the problem nonetheless doubtful as Mount Union took possession by itself 40-yard line with 2:39 to play. A 50-yard cross from D’Angelo Fulford to Wayne Ruby put the Purple Raiders in putting distance, however Fulford was introduced down for a loss as soon as by Ben Wong and twice by Tommy Hyland earlier than a fourth-down cross was intercepted by Jake Beesley in the long run zone with simply two seconds on the clock.
“I’ve by no means been part of a sport like that one,” mentioned North Central head coach Jeff Thorne. “That was unbelievable. It was an unbelievable environment. Mount Union is a first-class group from high to backside, I’ve nothing however respect for them. I am past elated with the best way our guys performed. On the finish of the sport, that is our mantra, ‘I’m a champion and I refuse to lose.’ We had some guys put the staff on their again and say, ‘we’re not dropping at present.'”
For Mount Union (11-1), ranked No. 1 by D3football.com and No. 2 by the American Soccer Coaches Affiliation (AFCA), heading into the sport and having not confronted a deficit at any level in any sport this season earlier than Saturday, it marks the primary time since 1994 that it’s going to not advance previous the second spherical, and it took each inch of the best offensive efficiency ever put forth by a North Central staff to make it occur.
The Cardinals gained a school-record 699 yards of whole offense, together with a school-record 522 passing yards from quarterback Broc Rutter, whose 5 landing passes give him a single-season report 47 this yr. Andrew Kamienski hauled in a career-high 256 yards on 12 catches to turn out to be the primary Cardinal to report greater than 200 receiving yards in a sport since 2005 and DeAngelo Hardy simply surpassed the game-high totals of his younger profession with 186 yards on eight receptions.
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North Central (11-1) took its first lead of the competition early within the second interval as Rutter delivered a 24-yard landing cross to working again Ethan Greenfield, giving the guests a 21-20 benefit with 12:05 to play within the first half. Hyland pressured a fumble on the following possession which was recovered by Beesley on the Mount Union 45. Dealing with fourth down-and-six on the 41, Rutter linked with Kamienski on a slant sample, and the junior eluded a would-be tackler to run uncontested to the objective line to increase the result in 28-20. The Raiders, nevertheless, closed the half with 18 unanswered factors and carried a 38-28 benefit into the half after gaining 460 yards within the first half alone.
“Coach (Shane) Dierking, Coach (Tim) Janecek and our defensive workers did an amazing job at halftime. We made an adjustment to offer a little bit bit extra assist defending the cross, and our guys did an amazing job of executing that adjustment and making them go in a unique course,” Rutter mentioned.
The Cardinals struck rapidly to start out the second half, and as soon as once more it was a fast cross to Kamienski that did the harm, this time from 71 yards out. Mount Union wanted simply 35 seconds to reply with a 66-yard TD cross from Fulford to Ruby, and the next collection noticed the Raiders again North Central up right into a third-and-28 scenario at its personal eight-yard line.
Rutter, nevertheless, as soon as once more proved proof against the strain of the second, firing a 30-yard strike to Hardy to maneuver the sticks, then hitting Kamienski for 59 yards to arrange first-and-goal. Greenfield lined the remaining distance on the following play to make it a 45-42 sport with 8:56 on the third-quarter clock.
“We got here in with the mindset that it was going to be a multi-round battle and we simply needed to maintain going one drive at a time,” Rutter mentioned. “There was by no means a second the place we flinched. We have been down 10, and simply mentioned, ‘cool, let’s get the ball and go rating.’ The entire staff got here out and fought all day lengthy, and there was not one ounce of doubt this week that we might come right here and compete.”
The Cardinals pressured their second turnover of the day on the following possession, as Talha Ayhan pounced on a fumble on the North Central 40-yard line. The guests put collectively a 10-play, 60-yard drive which ate up 5:22 (the longest drive of the day by both staff) and took the lead as soon as once more at 49-45 when Rutter discovered Kamienski in the back of the tip zone for a six-yard rating, Kamienski’s fourth of the day.
Mount Union was pressured to carry its punter on for the primary time on its subsequent drive, and Rutter discovered a brand new solution to the objective line by heaving a 56-yard completion to Khori Blair earlier than calling his personal quantity for a 10-yard rating, extending the result in 56-45 with 14:16 to play. The following kickoff was returned 47 yards by KJ Redmon, enabling the Raiders to advance 41 yards in simply three performs and rating on a 12-yard cross from Fulford to Josh Petrucelli. North Central responded with a nine-play, 57-yard drive and introduced on kicker Magnus Meyer for a 35-yard discipline objective. Meyer break up the uprights with the kick, matching his longest made try of the season.
Greenfield completed with 130 dashing yards on 27 carries, whereas Dakota Cremeens completed with a team-high eight tackles.
Mount Union, which gained 713 whole yards within the sport, noticed Fulford full 23 of 35 passes for 549 yards whereas additionally working for 139 yards on 20 carries. Justin Hill made seven catches for 221 yards and Mitch O’Hara paced the Raiders’ protection with 12 tackles.
The Cardinals advance to tackle ninth-ranked Delaware Valley College (Pennsylvania), a 45-10 second-round winner over Wesley Faculty (Delaware). The sport will kick off at midday native time on Saturday at a web site to be decided.