ALLIANCE, Ohio -- Quarterback Greg Micheli led Mount Union
to a 62-14 victory over Bethel on Saturday that sent the Raiders to
the Division III national championship game for the 11th time in 15
Micheli was 16-for-19 passing for 258 yards and two touchdowns,
and also rushed for 58 yards for the two-time defending champion
Purple Raiders (13-0), who scored on their first seven possessions.
Tailback Nate Kmic rushed for three touchdowns and 104 yards,
going over the 100-yard mark for the 22nd time in 33 career starts
in helping Mount Union advance to the 35th annual Stagg Bowl next
Saturday against Wisconsin-Whitewater. The Warhawks beat Mary
Hardin-Baylor 16-7 in the other semifinal Saturday.
Mount Union needed only three plays to reach the end zone on its
first possession, scoring when Micheli hit wide receiver
Pierre Garcon for a 46-yard touchdown just over a minute into the game.
Garcon finished with five catches for 111 yards en route to setting
Mount Union's career record for receptions (198).
"Any time you can jump out to an early lead it's important,"
Micheli said. "[Bethel] had a long trip to get here as it was, so
jumping on them quickly was key. I was real surprised Pierre was so
wide open on that play."
After a 29-yard field goal by Mike Zimmerman on Mount Union's
next possession, Micheli capped a short drive by hooking up with
tight end Chad Reynolds to make the score 17-0.
After 14 weeks of play, Mount Union has outscored its opponents
in the first quarter 284-6.
"They have unbelievable balance on offense," Bethel safety
Brandon Carr said. "They have so many weapons and they executed
early and often. It was very difficult to play them because you
can't focus in on one player. They have a lot of guys that can hurt
The second quarter started in similar fashion with Mount Union
scoring on Kmic's 2-yard run. That was soon followed by a 37-yard
field goal by Zimmerman after Bethel fumbled deep in its own
territory. Kmic scored from 9 yards out on Mount Union's next trip
down the field, making the score 34-0.
On their final possession of the half, the Purple Raiders took
the ball 86 yards on seven plays, capped by Micheli's 8-yard run
that made the score 41-0.
The Royals (12-2) didn't get their first score of the game until
quarterback Dan Einerson found tight end Nick Otto from 7 yards out
with 7:48 left to play.
The Mount Union defense was led by safety Craig Nickoli, who had
his first two career interceptions, returning the second 20 yards
for a score.