Tim Rogers

ALLIANCE: The University of Mount Union football team is back in the Division III national quarterfinals.

Whoa. Stop the presses.

The Purple Raiders advanced to this stage for the 24th consecutive year with a methodical 66-7 victory over visiting Albright College on Saturday in front of a damp crowd of 1,258 at Mount Union Stadium.

Some of the world’s most notable monarchs didn’t rule that long, but as Mount Union coach Vince Kehres said, “It doesn’t get old.”

Napoleon might have said something similar.

Top-ranked Mount Union (12-0) will play 11th-ranked Wesley (10-1) at a site to be determined. Wesley (Dover, Del.) defeated eighth-ranked Johns Hopkins 42-37 to make the quarterfinals for the fifth time. Mount Union is 4-0 against the Wolverines, including a 70-21 thrashing in last year’s national semifinals.

The Raiders’ 88th playoff victory — against 15 losses — turned ugly in a hurry.

Mount Union scored on its first possession, capping a 13-play, 70-yard drive with a 19-yard touchdown pass from Taurice Scott (Alliance) to former St. Vincent-St. Mary standout Jordan Hargrove on a fourth-down play. Less than two minutes later, Brian Groves (Stow) blocked an Albright punt and Kollyn Crenshaw (Solon) recovered in the end zone and the Raiders were on their way.

“It wasn’t an all-out block, but what we saw on tape was that we could attack their right side,” Kehres said. “Brian did a good job of coming through and getting his hands on the ball. That was a big play for us.”

Mount Union, seeking a record 12th national championship, was about as prolific on offense as any coach could hope. It scored on eight of nine chances in the red zone with seven touchdowns and a field goal. It had 634 yards of offense, averaging 8.2 yards on 77 plays.

The defense was equally as dominant. It held the Lions to 172 yards of offense, had 11 sacks — one shy of the school record set last week against St. Lawrence — and was successful on stopping 13-of-15 third-down conversions.

The offense was led by Scott, running back Logan Nemeth and wide receiver Tim Kennedy. Scott completed 17-of-24 passes for 238 yards and two touchdowns. Nemeth, a Michigan native, helped make up for a bad day for many Michiganders with a career-best 185 yards and three touchdowns on 21 carries. Kennedy, a former Hudson standout, equaled his career best with 10 receptions for 140 yards and one score.

Several Northeast Ohioans helped the Raider defense post the ninth game in which it has held an opponent to seven points or less. Senior defensive backs Will Hiteshue (Medina), Nick Rodriguez (Macedonia) and Alex Kocheff (Chagrin Falls) combined for 10 solo tackles and defensive end Tom Lally (Fairview Park) was one of three players with 2½ sacks.

A sequence at the end of the third quarter and beginning of the fourth was emblematic of the Purple Raiders’ efficient offense. It ended the third quarter with a seven-play, 75-yard drive, culminating with Kennedy catching a 4-yard touchdown pass. It began the fourth with a five-play drive, also of 75 yards, that ended with Nemeth rambling 47 yards for a score. Elapsed time? Less than three minutes.