Football: #2 Mount Union Falls To #5 North Central

D'Angelo Fulford (Photo by Ed Hall, Jr.)
D'Angelo Fulford (Photo by Ed Hall, Jr.)

ALLIANCE, Ohio – No. 2 ranked Mount Union lost to No. 5 ranked North Central, 59-52, in the second round of the NCAA Division III Football Playoffs Saturday at Mount Union Stadium.

The two teams combined for 1,397 yards as North Central had 699 and Mount Union had 698.  The game featured two ties and three lead changes. On third and fourth down, North Central combined to go 13-of-19 (11-of-16 on third down and 2-of-3 on fourth down) while Mount Union was 5-of-14 (4-of-10 on third down and 1-of-4 on fourth down),

North Central (11-1) quarterback Broc Rutter threw for 522 yards and five touchdowns, four of those, to Andrew Kamienski, who caught 12 passes for 256 yards while Ethan Greenfield rushed for 130 yards on 27 carries with two touchdowns as the Cardinals advance to next week's quarterfinals.

Mount Union (11-1) senior quarterback D'Angelo Fulford (Miramar, Fla.) set an NCAA playoff record with 673 yards of total offense, as he threw for 549 yards (23-of-35) with four touchdowns and rushed for 124 yards and two scores. His second interception of the season happened on the Purple Raiders final offensive snap as he threw a ball into the North Central end zone from 16 yards out with two seconds left in the game.

His top target was senior wide receiver Justin Hill (Circleville) with seven catches for a career-best 221 yards and his touchdown catch tied the school single season record of 23 with former All-American Cecil Shorts III (Cleveland / Collinwood).

Mount Union opened the scoring with a Fulford touchdown run to cap a seven-play, 85-yard drive and North Central answered with a seven-play 86-yard drive as Greenfield ran in an 11-yard score and it was tied at 7-7. The teams would trade scores on their next two possessions and a Mount Union missed extra point made it 21-20 North Central with 12:05 to go in the second quarter.

North Central got a Fulford fumble and turned it into seven more points to go up 28-20 as Rutter and Kamienski hooked up on a 41-yard scoring pass.

Mount Union came back with a 28-yard Max Righetti (Salem) field goal, then got the lead back after a Jalen Griffin (Chicago, Ill. / Simeon) interception was turned into a 27-yard touchdown pass from Fulford to Edwin Reed (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. / Dr. Krop) and a two-point conversion made it 31-28 Raiders with 4:01 left in the first half. Mount Union finished off the quarter with a Fulford two-yard touchdown run with 15 seconds left before halftime that gave the Raiders a 38-28 lead at the break.

Each team scored on their first possessions of the second half and North Central got it to 45-42 when Greenfield had a three-yard touchdown run to finish off a nine-play, 89-yard drive with 8:56 left in the third quarter.

On the ensuing drive, Mount Union got to the North Central 30-yard line and turned the ball over on downs. North Central then went on a 10-play, 60-yard drive and ended up taking the lead for good on a Rutter six-yard touchdown pass to Kamienski.

Mount Union turned the ball over on downs near midfield and Rutter made it an 11-point lead with a 10-yard touchdown run in the first minute of the fourth quarter.

The Raiders got back within striking range on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Fulford to Josh Petruccelli (Perry) to make it 56-52 with 12:53 to play.

Mount Union held North Central to a Magnus Meyer 35-yard field goal with eight minutes to go.

The Raiders got the ball back on their own 40-yard line with 2:39 left and they drove to the North Central 16-yard line.