Fulford, Mount Union lights up Case Western Reserve in D-III playoffs
By Greg Gulas
D’Angelo Fulford accounted for five touchdowns, Kollyn Crenshaw returned an interception for a score and Mount Union racked up 456 total offensive yards as the Purple Raiders rolled to a 45-16 win over Case Western Reserve in Division III, second-round playoff action Saturday at Mount Union Stadium.
The Raiders next will meet Frostburg State — who defeated Washington & Jefferson, 46-23, on Saturday — marking the 26th straight season that they have advanced to the “Final 8” round of play.
“We’ve played two really good football teams and faced challenges with the weather. It’s one week at a time,” Raiders head coach Vince Kehres said. “The focus is now on Frostburg State and looking at having a good week of preparation. Am I glad that we won two games? Yes. Can we play better? Yes.”
Entering the game, the Spartans (11-1) were averaging 445.5 yards of offense with quarterback Rob Cuda having tossed 28 touchdown passes.
On the Case opening possession, Cuda engineered a 12-play drive that consumed 4:37 off the clock but stalled on the Raiders’ 35 yard line.
Mount Union (12-0) took advantage of their first possession when Fulford found Justin Hill from 20 yards away for the early 7-0 advantage.
On the very next Spartans series, Crenshaw picked off Cuda and raced 27 yards to the house, extending the Raiders’ lead to 14-0 after the opening period.
It was the first of three misfires for the Spartans’ signal-caller in the opening half and the seventh interception returned for a score this season by the Raiders.
“They [the coaching staff] prepares us well each and every week,” Crenshaw said. “We see that play time and time again in practice and I saw [Colt Morgan] cutting on the inside. He reached up to try and catch the ball, tipped it and it was daylight from there. It goes back to the preparation.”
The Raiders extended their lead to 21-0 at 9:34 of the second quarter, the score coming when Fulford found a stumbling Jared Ruth in the back of the end zone from 24 yards away.
Cuda got the Spartans on the board on the very next series when he hit Justin Phan with a 34-yard strike to the Mount Union 3 yard line, scoring two plays later on a one yard sneak.
The placement on the extra point was wide left and the teams went to the locker room with the Raiders owning a 21-6 margin.
Cuda’s rushing touchdown was the very first allowed on the ground this season by Mount Union.
In the third quarter, field goals by Mount Union’s Alex Louthan and the Spartans’ Ben Carniol made the score 24-9 in favor of the Purple Raiders, but Fulford then found Ruth from 34 yards out for their second hook-up as Mount Union opened a 31-9 margin heading to the final period.
A 24 yard scoring strike from Cuda to Luke DiFrancesco with 9:14 remaining cut the deficit to 31-16, but Fulford took over the final minutes of the game by tossing his second touchdown pass to Hill, this time from 37 yards away, then putting the game away with a one-yard dash with 2:13 remaining.
The win marked the 67th for Kehres. Along with father Larry Kehres’ 332 wins, the father-son coaching duo has 399 overall.