ALLIANCE — Statistics don’t lie.

Or do they?

Maybe calling the statistics from Mount Union’s 51-35 victory over visiting Centre College in the second round of the Division III playoffs a lie is a little strong.

Misleading would be a better term. The statistics contradicted the final result in a game that Mount dominated for nearly 54 minutes.

For example:

• Centre College had 471 yards of offense. Mount Union had 313 yards. Centre even had an edge in passing yardage, 277-120, and that rarely happens to Mount Union.

• Centre ran 87 plays. Mount Union ran 51.

• Centre had 24 first downs. Mount Union had 18.

• Centre possessed the ball for 36:51. Mount Union for 23:09.

The one statistic in which the Purple Raiders had an edge came in turnovers. They intercepted backup quarterback John Walton four times. They also blocked a punt.

That led to three touchdowns and a field goal and lends credence to the adage that defense wins championships.

“Mount Union is pretty good,” Centre coach Andy Frye said in the best understatement of the day. “And they played like it.”

It was 51-7 at the half and Mount Union coach Vince Kehres lifted his starters until late in the fourth quarter as Centre (10-2) refused to quit.

Even a career day by running back Josh Petruccelli and the return from injury by quarterback D’Angelo Fulford were overshadowed by the Mount defense, which helped supply 24 of the Raiders’ points.

The victory means the Raiders (12-0) will in all likelihood play host to Muhlenberg (11-1) on Saturday in the quarterfinals. Muhlenberg of Allentown, Pa., defeated Randolph-Macon 35-6. It will be the 27th consecutive appearance in the quarterfinals for Mount Union, which raised its playoff record to 101-16 and is seeking an unprecedented 14th national title.

Petruccelli set career highs by rushing for 162 yards and four touchdowns on 18 carries. It was Petruccelli’s seventh 100-yard game of the season and lifted him over the 1,000-yard mark for the second consecutive year.

The 5-9, 210-pound sophomore, who has rushed for 1,145 yards, scored Mount Union’s first touchdown on a 5-yard run, set up by a 14-yard punt that gave the Raiders a short field. He added a 54-yard score later in the quarter, cutting between blocks by GlenOak graduate Jonny Todd and tackle Brendan Klaus.

“The linemen just dominated up front,” Petruccelli said of his 54-yard run. “I wasn’t touched until the safety [got a hand] about 10 yards downfield. I only had to make one man miss.”

Fulford, who has the second-highest passer rating in the country behind Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, returned to the lineup for the first time since suffering an ankle injury in the first quarter of the final regular-season game against Marietta.

It didn’t take him long to regain that touch that produced 32 touchdowns, 2,287 yards and a passer rating of 208.4. He threw a 42-yard touchdown pass to Jared Ruth on his fifth throw of the game. He added a 12-yard scoring strike to Justin Hill before being lifted midway through the second quarter after completing 5-of-10 passes for 85 yards and two touchdowns.

Gagliardi Trophy nominee Danny Robinson intercepted a pass and blocked the punt that led to a Petruccelli touchdown in the second quarter that produced a 31-7 lead. The blocked punt was picked up by freshman Edwin Reed, who was tackled at the Centre 1-yard line after a 14-yard return. Petruccelli scored one play later.

Senior Trevor Cox intercepted two passes and sophomore Jalen Griffin added another as Mount Union made the game more lopsided than the final score and statistics indicated.