Mount Union opened the 2011 season with a 41-17 victory over Wisconsin-Oshkosh on Saturday in front of 3,372 at Mount Union Stadium.
The Purple Raiders (1-0), ranked No. 2 in the nation, trailed 7-3 in the first quarter before scoring 31 of the game's next 34 points to win their 24th consecutive season opener.
Junior running back Jeremy Murray (Martins Ferry/Martins Ferry) rushed for 125 yards on 20 carries and two touchdowns for Mount Union, and he added a third score on a pass from junior quarterback Neal Seaman (Louisville/Louisville). The three total touchdowns equaled a career-high for Murray.
Junior Jasper Collins (Geneva, N.Y./Geneva) had a career-high 10 pass receptions for 96 yards, and junior Chris Denton (Plantation, Fla./South Plantation) also hauled in a touchdown pass from junior quarterback Matt Piloto (Rotunda West, Fla./Lemon Bay). Junior Jake Simon (Parma Heights/Holy Name) added a touchdown.
Seaman finished 18 of 29 for 149 passing yards, while Piloto was seven of 10 for 120 yards.
Defensively, junior cornerback Nick Driskill (Wabash, Ind./Southwood) led the way with 13 tackles, and senior Tyler Alwardt (Macomb. Twp., Mich/Chippewa Valley) and senior Alex Ferrara (Independence/Walsh Jesuit) had interceptions. Senior
Chris Favazzo (Blacklick/Columbus St. Charles) and sophomore Matt Fechko (Twinsburg/Twinsburg) had recovered fumbles; sophomore Nyejel Thomas (Pittsburgh, Pa./Pittsburgh Central Catholic) had 1.5 quarterback sacks and freshman Pat Mahoney (Jeannette, Pa./Greensburg Central Catholic) had .5 sack.
Mount Union forced four turnovers while not committing any, and the Purple Raiders improved to 154-1 since 1990 when winning the turnovers battle.
Oshkosh was led by quarterback Nate Wara, who rushed 18 times for 79 yards and completed 16 of 31 passes for 138 yards and a touchdown.
Mount Union struck first on a Tyler Almeida field goal of 20 yards, with 11:14 remaining in the first quarter. The Purple Raiders forced an Oshkosh punt then drove 35 yards in seven plays.
Oshkosh answered with a 15-play, 90-yard drive to take the lead. Wara ran or passed on 13 of the plays, and he found the end zone with a 21-yard pass to Charlie Weissman with 6:06 remaining in the first quarter.
Mount Union regained the lead with a quick, two-play, 35-yard drive after an exchange of punts. Murray carried the ball on both plays, scoring from 16 yards out, and Almeida's extra point gave the Purple Raiders the lead for good, 10-7, with 2:46 remaining in the first quarter.
The Purple Raiders extended their lead to 17-7 on Murray's second touchdown, a 2-yard run, with 13:55 remaining in the second quarter.
Oshkosh answered quickly. Wara completed a 52-yard pass to Caleb Voss on the first play of the drive, setting up the Titans at the Mount Union 17. But the Purple Raiders' defense stiffened, forcing a 28-yard field goal by Nate Becker with 11:50 remaining before halftime.
Piloto's 26-yard pass to Chris Denton with 8:02 remaining before halftime completed a five-play, 79-yard drive that made it 24-10, then after an Oshkosh punt, the Purple Raiders extended their lead to 27-10 on a 23-yard field goal by Almeida with 5:13 to go.
Mount Union added another touchdown with 13 seconds before halftime, when Seaman connected with Murray on a 20-yard catch and run, making it 34-10 at the intermission.
The third quarter was scoreless, but Oshkosh was in the midst of a 12-play, 82-yard drive that culminated in Cole Myhra's 1-yard run with 14:58 remaining in the game, closing Mount Union's advantage to 34-17.
After an exchange for punts, Mount Union drove 36 yards in seven plays, and Jake Simon found the end zone on a 16-yard burst up the middle, finishing the scoring.
Mount Union will next play host to John Carroll in the Ohio Athletic Conference opener. Kickoff is 7 p.m. on Sept. 17 at Mount Union Stadium.