NCAA DIVISION III PLAYOFFS Mount Union's third-period surge sinks Augustana, 32-7
The Purple Raiders advanced to a quarterfinal against Wittenberg in Alliance next Saturday.
By BRIAN RICHESSON
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
ALLIANCE -- The Mount Union College football team received a scare from Augustana two seasons ago. The Purple Raiders weren't about to let that happen again Saturday.
Using a 19-point third quarter and a relentless defense, Mount Union defeated Augustana (Ill.) 32-7 in a NCAA Division III second-round playoff game at Mount Union Stadium.
On Nov. 27, 1999 in Alliance, the Purple Raiders were forced to rally from a 21-13 first-half playoff deficit against Augustana. They did so by outscoring the Vikings 15-0 in the third quarter before winning 42-33.
Saturday, the third quarter was decisive again for Mount Union (11-0).
Hounded: Junior quarterback Rob Adamson tossed touchdown passes of 67 and 54 yards to senior receiver Jason Candle, a West Branch High graduate, and the defense hounded Augustana quarterbacks Brad Wendell and Ben Kleinhans to gain control.
"It was hard to understand how we won that  game, so we were extremely concerned [Saturday]," Mount Union coach Larry Kehres said.
Many Ohio Athletic Conference teams presented Mount Union with strong passing offenses throughout the season. By contrast, Augustana came in with the nation's top rushing offense.
Two weeks of preparation and a defense better suited to match up gave the Purple Raiders a better chance to win.
"It's satisfying to win this game and feel like we won the game," Kehres said. "We played a physical team even-up."
Career highs: Adamson and Candle each had career-high games. The quarterback completed 16-of-25 passes for 326 yards and three touchdowns, while Candle had six catches for 215 yards and the two scores.
"I was back there all day. I think I got knocked down two or three times the whole game," said Adamson, praising the offensive line. "They probably played the best game of the year."
Candle said he was the beneficiary of Adamson's efficient reads.
"At halftime, we talked with Coach about what pass routes were there," Candle said. "It was Coach trusting what the players had to say, trying it and having it work."
Senior running back Chuck Moore began the third-quarter onslaught with a 13-yard touchdown. Moore also scored on a 1-yard run in the second quarter and finished with 146 yards on 25 carries.
Set the tempo: Mount Union set the tempo of the second half when it forced Augustana (10-2) into a three-and-out situation on its first possession.
"We knew they were getting the ball first, and we knew we had to come out and make a stand right away," said junior defensive end Matt Campbell, who had an interception and one of Mount Union's five sacks.
"We were able to penetrate into the backfield. It set the tone for the second half."
The Purple Raiders, who led just 13-7 at halftime, scored on all three of their third-quarter possessions and the defense did its part by holding Augustana to 72 second-half yards.
"Our kids knew a little bit more about the tempo of the game at halftime," Mount Union defensive coordinator Don Montgomery said. "They felt they could so some things, so we started moving toward the ball a little more and doing a little more stunting."
Capping it off: The Purple Raiders secured the game in the fourth quarter when Campbell and junior cornerback Mike Miller intercepted Augustana passes.
Saturday, Mount Union will play Wittenberg in a quarterfinal game at Mount Union Stadium. Wittenberg defeated Thomas More, 41-0.