Mount Union set for showdown against Capital
The two teams are unbeaten and ranked No. 1 and 4 in Division III.
By ERIC HAMILTON
ALLIANCE -- The Capital University football team will look to build on last year's near upset of 2005 national power Mount Union Saturday when it travels to Alliance Saturday at 1:30 p.m. with the top spot in the OAC on the line.
Both squads enter the contest at 7-0 overall and 6-0 in the league. Mount Union is ranked No. 1 in the d3football.com national poll, while Capital is at No. 4.
It will be the third time in the last two years that the teams have faced each other in Alliance, as the Purple Raiders defeated the Crusaders in the 2005 regular season (42-24) and in the Division III playoff quarterfinals (34-31).
Rallied for playoff win
In the playoff victory, Mount Union rallied from a 17-14 deficit and scored with just three minutes left to turn back the Crusaders. The game featured six lead changes.
"This has been a good rivalry for the last several years," said Mount Union coach Larry Kehres, whose team has beaten Capital 19 straight times. "They led going into the fourth quarter in that playoff game last year. They have an excellent quarterback and play great team defense. They don't give up big plays."
Capital signal-caller Rocky Pentello is the catalyst, amassing over 1,800 yards passing through seven games. The senior has 19 touchdown passes to go with just three interceptions.
The Crusaders' defense allows 7.9 points per game and has recorded 21 sacks on the season. The unit surrenders just 82.7 yards rushing per contest.
Always a challenge
Capital head coach Jim Collins knows every time his team faces Mount Union, it is taking on a huge challenge, but it's something he's looking forward to.
"Any time you play Mount Union it's special," said Collins. "But it's certainly more interesting now that we have more of a feeling that we belong on the same field as them.
"The best thing about this game is the environment that we expect with a big crowd and the importance of the game in regard to the conference title. This is the type of game you want to be playing in."
Mount Union is averaging 54.7 points a contest. The Raiders' offense is well balanced, churning out 267 yards rushing and 264 yards threw the air.
Jorris leads offense
Quarterback Mike Jorris is among the top three in the country, completing 64 percent of his passes. The senior has thrown for 1,199 yards and 20 touchdowns with just two interceptions.
His top target is speedster Pierre Garcon, averages over 20 yards per reception and has hauled in 35 balls and scored 12 touchdowns. Running back Nate Kmic leads the ground attack with 888 yards and 11 scores.
"What it comes down to we have to make big plays and have to stop them from doing the same," said Collins. "Everyone's goal is to win the league championship and the winner of this game will have a stranglehold on doing that."