Defense, special teams lead MUC
The top-ranked Purple Raiders crushed No. 4 Capital, 38-12.
By ERIC HAMILTON
ALLIANCE -- The weather was so unpredictable during the first half of Saturday's showdown between Mount Union and Capital, it was hard to tell what season it was. From rain, to sleet, then snow, the wacky weather and wild winds made for difficult playing conditions.
The sun finally came out in the third quarter -- but not for Capital.
The Mount Union defense and special teams threw a wet blanket over the Crusaders.
The Purple Raiders held Capital to minus 31 yards rushing and the special teams blocked three kicks and recovered a blocked a punt for a score, as No. 1-ranked Mount Union (8-0, 7-0) dealt the No. 4-ranked Crusaders (7-1, 6-1) a 38-12 loss at Mount Union Stadium.
Kmic hits 200 again
Mount Union's top-rated offense did more than its share, piling up a season-high 345 yards rushing, led by Nate Kmic's 240 yards. It was his second straight week over 200 yards.
Kmic went over the 1,000-yard mark for the season, as he cleared the 200-yard plateau for the fourth time in 12 career starts.
"We knew we had to run the ball to be successful in these conditions," said the sophomore running back. "The ball was hard to throw and hard to catch, so we just kept running. The offensive lined blocked amazing today."
Mount Union attempted a season-low 13 passes the entire game, including just two in the second half. Normally, a balanced attack, the nation's No. 1 offense took advantage of strong offensive line play and the wet weather.
"We just wanted to survive in the first quarter going into the wind," said Mount Union coach Larry Kehres. "The weather made it difficult on the passing and kicking games today. We were fortunate to get that blocked punt for a score and get a 17-0 lead early. From there, we were sort of in the driver's seat.
"In several ways, this game was very surprising. We did not expect to throw as little as we did. We normally throw about 20 to 25 times a game. But with the weather the way it was and with the lead in the second half, we didn't need to throw."
Quick strike Raiders
The Purple Raiders jumped out a 17-0 lead after one quarter and never let up. Capital did cut the deficit to 17-6 in the second quarter on a 21-yard TD pass from Rocky Pentello to Mike Niedzwiecki.
The lead swelled to 31-6 in the third quarter on an 18-yard pass from Mount Union receiver Pierre Garcon to Maxwell Smith.
Pentello, who has thrown for over 11,000 yards in his career, couldn't rally the troops as he faced relentless pressure from the Mount Union defense. The Purple Raiders sacked Pentello four times and nearly knocked him out of the game in the second quarter.
"Rocky was under duress the whole game and took some big hits," said Capital coach Jim Collins. "When you have sleet coming at you sideways at 30 miles per hour it makes it tough on an offense that throws the ball as much as we do.
"Kmic is the best back we've seen and their lines dominated ours. The story of the game was their 345 yards rushing to our minus 31. We just couldn't get the run going today to take pressure off Rocky."