ALLIANCE — No muss, no fuss and let’s get on with the playoffs.
That could have been Mount Union’s words to live by on Saturday when it made short work of visiting Marietta on the way to a defensive-led 49-7 victory in the final game of the Ohio Athletic Conference regular season.
The top-ranked Purple Raiders scored five touchdowns in the first quarter, including two by the defense, on the way to the program’s 25th consecutive victory and the 27th undefeated regular season in school history.
Mount (10-0, 9-0 OAC) had clinched at least a tie for the program’s 29th conference championship and one of the 26 automatic bids to the 32-team Division III playoffs last week.
So, all that was left for Saturday was the shouting and there was plenty of that when the Raiders scored 21 points in the first 5:49.
The NCAA will announce pairings and game sites on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. It will be the 30th post-season appearance for the program that has produced 13 national championships.
The only negative that could be found took place early when junior quarterback D’Angelo Fulford left the game with an apparent injury after scoring the Raiders’ first touchdown on a 21-yard run that capped a five-play, 51-yard drive. Fulford, who entered the game having thrown for 2,234 yards and a conference-leading 32 touchdowns, did not return and was replaced by junior Ernie Burkes.
Mount Union does not comment on injuries.
The offense, which accumulated 337 yards on 56 plays, scored twice in the first five minutes — Fulford’s 21-yard run and a 1-yard run by Burkes — and then the defense took charge by scoring two of its three touchdowns.
An illegal block by Marietta (7-3, 6-3) on the ensuing kickoff backed the Pioneers to their 8-yard line. Two plays later junior linebacker Trey Williams tipped and intercepted a Darrien Fields pass and went nine yards untouched for a score.
After an exchange of punts, senior defensive back Louis Berry intercepted another Fields throw and went 48 yards for a score that increased the lead to 28-0 with 1:23 left in the first quarter.
Berry scored his second touchdown of the game and third of the season with 1:23 left when he stripped the ball from the grasp of Robert Nelson after a reception and went 50 yards.
“I don’t remember seeing a game where someone had three defensive touchdowns,” said Mount coach Vince Kehres, whose defensive unit has scored 10 touchdowns, one of the leading marks in the country. “That was kind of crazy.”
Marietta entered the game averaging nearly 42 points a game but had no success against the Raiders’ aggressive defenders.
“They really got our attention on film,” said Berry, whose fourth-quarter strip of John Carroll quarterback Anthony Moeglin was a key play in the biggest win of the season. “They have a lot of playmakers on that offense. They earned our respect. We had to compete and make things tough on them. You can’t let up off the gas against a team like that so we just had to keep on going. That was our mentality.”
Sophomore running back Josh Petruccelli provided most of Mount’s offense after the early onslaught. He finished with 109 yards on 11 carries and scored on a 44-yard run midway through the second quarter. It was his fifth 100-yard game of the season.