#2 Mount Union Rallies to Beat B-W to Clinch 20th Straight OAC Title
The win secured the Purple Raiders' 20th consecutive Ohio Athletic Conference championship and a berth in the NCAA Division III playoffs for the 23rd time. Mount Union (9-0, 8-0 OAC) is ranked No. 2 by the AFCA and d3football.com, and No. 1 in the NCAA North Region.
Piloto (Rotonda West Fla./Lemon Bay), a junior making his first career regular-season start, finished 18 of 32 passing for 231 yards and two touchdowns, both to Denton (Plantation, Fla./South Plantation).
Denton, a junior, finished with a career-best seven catches for 111 yards.
Junior running back Jeremy Murray (Martins Ferry/Martins Ferry) led the Mount Union running attack with 28 carries for 155 yards and one touchdown.
Junior Nick Driskill (Wabash, Ind./Southwood) had a team-high 14 tackles for the Purple Raider defense, junior defensive back Alex Nicholls (Galion/Galion) had two interceptions, and senior linebacker Jorge Carbonell (Miami, Fla./Archbishop Carroll) broke up a fourth-down pass in the final minute to secure the victory.
The Purple Raiders led 6-0 at halftime on a pair of field goals by senior Tyler Almeida (Elyria/Elyria), then took the second-half kickoff 70 yards in nine plays, with Piloto hitting Denton from 14 yards out. The two-point conversion failed, leaving Mount Union ahead 12-0 with 10:57 remaining in the third period.
Then, after Nicholls' second interception, the Purple Raiders drove 77 yards in just five plays to make it 19-0. Piloto hit senior A.J. Claycomb (Medina/Medina) for a 55-yard pass, setting up Mount Union at the Yellow Jackets' 18. Two plays later Murray scored from 14 yards out.
Baldwin-Wallace got on the board and seized the momentum quickly, as Josiah Holt returned the ensuing kickoff 85 yards for a touchdown. It was Holt's second kickoff return for a score this season and third of his career.
Mount Union went three and out on its next possession, then Baldwin-Wallace marched 58 yards in seven plays to reach the end zone. Backup quarterback Andrew Dziak ran in from the 3 with 14:53 remaining to make it 19-14.
The Purple Raiders went three and out again, and Baldwin-Wallace set up at its 42. With Dziak accounting for 30 of the yards, the Yellow Jackets methodically went the 58 yards in 15 plays, scoring on Dziak's 1-yard, fourth-down run. The two-point conversion failed, but Baldwin-Wallace led 20-19 with 5:53 to go.
Mount Union responded with its biggest offensive possession of the season. Piloto's 7-yard pass to Claycomb on third-and-6 gave the Purple Raiders a first down at the B-W 28. But a 3-yard loss on first down, a completion for 2 yards and an incompletion made it fourth and 11.
Piloto lofted a pass over the middle to Denton, who outjumped Ryan Dugan and Zach Barley for the ball in the end zone. The two-point conversion failed, and Mount Union led 25-20 with 2:14 to go.
Baldwin-Wallace went back to starting quarterback Ryan O'Rourke for its final drive, and he completed a 31-yard pass to Gabe Adams on fourth down and 25, to the Yellow Jackets' 46.
After a 13-yard pass to Adams, B-W had a first down at the Purple Raiders' 41. Facing fourth and 1 from the Mount Union 32, O'Rourke's pass to running back Tyler Lohr was broken up by Carbonell, and the Purple Raiders ran out the clock.
Mount Union will conclude the regular season on Nov. 12 at Muskingum in a 1:30 p.m. kickoff.