|Isaiah Scott picked off three passes and Jasper Collins caught three touchdowns in Mount Union's win against Wesley.|
Every year, the challenge is there for the University of Mount Union football program. Get back to the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl and play for the Division III national championship.
The 2011 version of the Purple Raiders tackled that challenge head on, and as a result will head back to Salem, Va., for Stagg Bowl XXXIX. They will face UW-Whitewater, which shut out St. Thomas 20-0 in the day's other national semifinal.
Mount Union (14-0), ranked No. 2 by the D3football.com and American Football Coaches Association polls, defeated No. 7 Wesley (Del.), 28-21, on Saturday, in a national semifinal at Mount Union Stadium.
Junior quarterback Matt Piloto threw for 271 yards and four touchdowns, tying a career high, and the Purple Raiders turned two third-quarter takeaways into touchdowns, advancing to their seventh consecutive Stagg Bowl and 15th in school history.
The Stagg Bowl will be played on Friday, December 16, with a 7 p.m. kickoff on ESPN2.
Three of Piloto's scoring passes went to junior wide receiver Jasper Collins, covering 26, 31 and 18 yards. Collins caught nine passes overall for 139 yards.
Senior wide receiver A.J. Claycomb caught the other TD pass from Piloto.
"We were pretty pleased with our performance [on offense]," said Piloto. "We got off to one of our better starts which we emphasized all week."
Wesley (12-2) also moved the ball effectively, finishing with 496 total yards, but the Wolverines were done in by six turnovers. Mount Union junior defensive back Isaiah Scott had three interceptions, senior defensive back Alex Ferrara had a pick, and Wesley fumbles were recovered by junior defensive back Alex Nicholls and sophomore defensive lineman Matt Fechko.
"I think we had to adjust to their speed," said Mount Union junior defensive back Nick Driskill, who led the Purple Raiders with 13 tackles, including one for loss. "Their quarterback is a really good player."
Wesley senior quarterback Shane McSweeny was 19 of 33 for 350 yards and two touchdowns, and he rushed for an additional 62 yards. Running back Askia Jahad added 77 yards on the ground, but his fumble on the first play of the second half gave Mount Union the ball at the Wolverines' 39. Seven plays later Piloto found Claycomb in the corner of the end zone, and a two-point conversion gave Mount Union a 21-14 lead with 12:04 left in the third quarter.
"We definitely left some plays on the field," said Wesley coach Mike Drass. "We wish we could have had some of them back. Defensively, even after the turnovers, we have to step up, but we couldn't keep them out of the end zone."
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