North Central College Football vs. Mount Union highlights from the second round of the NCAA Division III playoffs in Alliance, Ohio.
Full disclosure – please keep your hands and feet inside the cabin at all times, this is going to be a rollercoaster ride.
Mount Union hosting North Central for a second time – the first, in 2013… a semifinal game in the snow that the Purple Raiders won 41-40.
Tommy Hyland will look to put a stop to the high powered offense. Broc Rutter aims to keep the Cards rolling.
First Mount Union drive… after converting a 3rd and 2 – quarterback D’Angelo Fulford rocking back and firing deep – finding his favorite target, Justin Hill for a 59 yard gain. The pairing both dynamic and among the nation’s leaders at their positions.
Fulford can also do it with the feet – the senior quarterback patiently waits before plunging into the endzone – Raiders up 7-0.
But now it’s Broc Rutter’s turn. He’s second in the country in pass efficiency behind only Fulford and here’s a prime example why. DeAngelo Hardy comes whizzing across and takes the feed. Check out the block by Ethan Greenfield. All said and done – 50 yard gain.
That sets the Cardinals up in Purple territory, and they aren’t going to miss their chance to strike. Ethan Greenfield has been dynamite – and he continues to be, leaping over Mount Union to break the plane. We’re all tied up.
But, Mount Union puts together an 8 play, 80 yard drive that eats up just shy of four minutes, capped by Josh Petruccelli soaring to a score. Home team up 14-7.
Raiders have 13 National Titles to their name since 1993… but the Cardinals don’t appear to be phased one bit. Rutter picks up a third and long with the legs.
Same drive, different quarter – Rutter darts one over the middle to Andrew Kamienski – and that’s a game tying touchdown! 4 drives, 4 scores combined between the two schools. This one living up to the billing of the nation’s top two offenses.
To the point where, in this first half – it was almost like, where are the defenses? Fulford again finds a wide open Hill down the right sideline. The foot race to the goal line – won by the senior receiver. Raiders miss the extra point, so up only 20-14.
That point looms kind of large in a shoot out like this. Greenfield gets the carry and he is carving up the nation’s second best defense like a Turkey slicing pro on Thanksgiving Day. Scampers for 31 yards.
And then this play – from start to finish. Bon Appetite. Cardinals feasting with their sophomore running back. Greenfield and Rutter connect and North Central now leads 21-20 with 12:05 to go in the first half.
With 3 and outs or punts virtually out of the question, how is someone supposed to claim an edge? How about that! Tommy Hyland pops the ball lose and Jake Beesley recovers. Cardinals in business.
But now Rutter and the offense facing a difficult 4th and 6 at the 41 yard line. Needing to capitalize, NCC audibles. And whatever the call was, it works… Rutter bee-bee’s it to Kamienski and he’s off to the races! Saunters his way into the endzone. Cardinals up 28-20 with 9:59 to go in the second.
Mount Union once again marching, now inside the 20. Fulford goes to the flat – but so does Zach Butler – he stands his man up and Hyland will knock him down. Purple Raiders walk away with just 3 points.
Following a tipped ball that is intercepted by Mount Union, the Purple Raiders tack on 7 more. Fulford finds Edwin Reid from 27 yards out. And just like that, MU back on top 31-28 after a 2 point conversion.
And that’s not all – even after Rutter punts it 64 yards on a trick play – the Purple Raiders match 95 yards and cap the drive with a two yard sprint from Fulford. 18-0 run to end the half.
Alright, so… is the second half just gunna be more of the same? Yup. On third and two, Andrew Kamienski is taking it to the house! Rutter is on fire and so is the Cardinal offense. NCC back to within 3 – 38-35 MU leads.
Following another bomb from D’Angelo Fulford – this one going to Wayne Ruby from 66 yards out, the Cardinals somehow find a way to convet… on third at 28! Hardy with the pickup. Cardinals marching.
And they continue marching all the way into the endzone – Greenfield takes the rock across himself. Greenfield winds up with 154 total yards of offense and 3 touchdowns on the day.
Can the Purple Raiders respond… well, that’s not promising. Fulford has it fly out of his hand. Cardinals pounce and they’re taking over with a 45-42 deficit to try and cut into.
And boy do they. This throw from Rutter to Kamienski just further shows the unbelievable chemistry between the two dynamite stars. The touchdown gives the Cardinals their first lead since the second quarter…. 49-42.
Next drive for Mount Union – and Fulford’s pass is broken up over the middle by Jake Beesley – huge stop as Shane Dierking has his defense flipping a switch and stopping the formidable Raiders offense.
Meanwhile, Jeff Thorne and Brad Spencer came in with a plan on offense – and truthfully, I’ve never seen a team execute any cleaner than the Cardinals did on this day. Check out Khori Blair running wild in the open. NCC in business in the red zone.
At the ten yard line, Rutter will fake the handoff… takes it himself… and gallops into the end zone for the touchdown. 28 yards rushing to go along with 522 yards passing and 5 touchdowns. 4 of which to kamienski, who compiles 256 yards on 12 catches.
But if you thought that’s where this game ends… you’re sorely mistaken. Trailing 56-45, Mount Union goes on the assault. Fulford gets Petruccelli out of the backfield… and he just gets in for the score. Suddenly it’s 56-52.
And with the game on the line – here comes Magnus Meyer. Despite attempting only 8 up until this point – Coach Thorne trusting him in this huge spot. And he delivers. 35 yards through the uprights. Cardinals up 59-52.
8 minutes to go in the game – 4th and 15… trailing by 7. And how about this cold blooded throw over the middle to Hill for the first down. Raiders still alive.
Again facing 4th down… Fulford gets pressured up the middle by Cam Martin – and his throw to Hill this time? Short of the sticks! NCC takes over on downs with 4 minutes to play.
Staying aggressive, NCC turning the ball of on downs at the Mount Union 40. Fulford and the Raiders offense in need of a spark… and for a moment it looked like Beesley had his fourth pick of the season. Except, it’s Ruby coming up with it and making it inside the 10.
But as has been the case in the second half, NCC ramping up the pressure. Hyland shakes free and brings Fulford down around the line of scrimmage.
So it all comes down to this. The fans are on their feet. There’s 7 seconds left, 4th and goal from the 15. Jeff Thorne likely in need of some tums… and here it is.
Beesley ends up ending the game with a pick… Rutter kneels it down and the celebration is on! Hugs, laughs, tears… and a special visit from John Thorne… who, in 2013 came 1 point short of making it to the Stagg Bowl on this field. But this time, the Cardinals advance. Unbelievable game – Cardinals get Delaware Valley in the next round.