Neal Seaman tossed five touchdowns in his first career start as the University of Mount Union (Ohio) won its 44th consecutive regular-season game with a 45-28 victory over UW-Oshkosh on Saturday (Sept. 11) at J.J. Keller Field at Titan Stadium.
The Purple Raiders (1-0), ranked second by D3football.com, captured their season opener for the 22nd straight year. Seaman ended up with 26-of-37 efficiency for 328 yards and one interception. Jeremy Murray caught a pair of touchdowns less than five minutes apart during the second quarter to gain a 28-7 cushion. Mount Union would lead by at least 14 points for the remainder of the contest.
UW-Oshkosh (0-2) never went away, riding another strong performance from Nate Wara (So. • Oshkosh). While tying his career-high with three touchdown passes, Wara threw for 238 yards and ran for a game-best 80 yards on 15 attempts. The Titans rushed for 198 yards, equaling the most that Mount Union has allowed in its last 31 contests. UW-Oshkosh's 28 points were the most the Purple Raiders surrendered during the regular season since 2001 (123 games).
Mount Union's first score of the day was a 35-yard hookup from Seaman to Cecil Shorts III. Two plays later, Wara had the ball knocked loose and gave the Purple Raiders possession 35 yards from paydirt. Zac Lemmon ran on four of the drive's five plays, galloping 10 yards for a 14-0 advantage midway through the opening quarter.
Wara single-handedly led the Titans down the field, including a play in which he twice avoided the sack and broke away for a 34-yard run. Charlie Weissman (Jr. • Colgate) picked up four yards on 4th-and-3 to keep the drive alive. Nate Wara then flipped a 10-yard pass to Juston Wara (Sr. • Oshkosh), who made a leaping grab for the touchdown.
A pair of UW-Oshkosh breakdowns allowed the Purple Raiders to extend their lead. The Titans fumbled away one possession only to see Murray catch a 13-yard touchdown on the ensuing snap. Shorts took advantage of some great blocking to post a 44-yard punt return moments later. On the fourth play of that drive, Seaman found Murray for an 11-yard connection with 52 seconds left in the half.
The Titans made good use of that remaining time, opening with a 13-yard run by Justin Budiac (Jr. • Mukwonago). Wara found Paul Coburn (Sr. • Sussex) streaking over the middle on the next play for a gain of 41 yards. With 14 seconds to play in the second quarter, Coburn hauled in a six-yard pass near the corner of the end zone to make it 28-14 at intermission.
Shorts tacked on a nine-yard TD after getting downfield with a 38-yard catch in the middle of the third quarter. Nate Wara responded with his own excitement, rushing for 17 yards on 3rd-and-8. The next play, he tossed a perfect flea-flicker pass to Garrie Fox (Jr. • Madison) to pick up 29 yards. Jeremy Roach (Sr. • Deerfield) capped it off with a three-yard scoring run to pull within 35-21 late in the period.
On the first Mount Union play after the kickoff, Shorts showed his versatility. He took the ball in the backfield looking to pass, but after scrambling around, Shorts cut across the gridiron and sprinted for a gain of 27. The Purple Raiders then converted 4th-and-4 to set up Brandon Brown, who tallied Seaman's final touchdown pass from 14 yards out early in the fourth quarter.
UW-Oshkosh answered that score with a Myles Teteak (Jr. • Rhome, Texas) six-yard reception for its final points. The Titans compiled 436 yards overall, with Fox marking 81 yards on five catches and Roach 64 yards on 10 carries. Taylor Goodman (So. • South Wayne) and Frank Martin (Jr. • Greenleaf) each had 11 tackles and Cameron Heilman (Sr. • Port Washignton) 10 to pace UW-Oshkosh's defense, while Nick Driskill and Charles Dieuseul each totaled 11 stops and one sack for the Purple Raiders.
Mount Union racked up 500 offensive yards, including 69 on 13 rushes by Murray. Shorts, the 2009 D3football.com Offensive Player of the Year, posted 105 yards on five receptions while also gaining 145 more on rushes and kick returns. The game's leading pass-catcher was Kyle Miller, who snared seven balls for 82 yards. The Purple Raiders won the possession battle with 34:12 and also took the third-down conversions category, 8-of-14 to the Titans' 4-of-12.
This was the first meeting between the two squads. The Titans face a more familiar opponent on Sept. 25, when they travel to play UW-River Falls for the 54th time.