Purple Raiders shut down Student Princes
By JEFF ZUPANIC
With the weather turning colder and windier, Mount Union ran its way to another lopsided win on Saturday.
Sophomore Josh Petruccelli led the way on the ground with his second straight 100-yard game and tied a career high in carries for the Purple Raiders and junior Justin Hill proved lethal on special teams.
The game featured high winds, heavy rain, hail and even a little bit of sunshine plus a stingy Heidelberg defense that made the defending national champions work more than usual for every yard and point during its 54-0 win that extended college football’s longest winning streak to 22 games.
Petruccelli ran for 101 yards on 27 carries while scoring a pair of touchdowns. The 27 rushing attempts matched his effort in last season’s national semifinal contest at UW-Oshkosh. Petruccelli has three 100-yard games this season and six for his career and never grew impatient while the Purple Raiders’ offense looked prolific through the air the last three weeks while outscoring teams 176-24.
“You try to be balanced offensively in a perfect world while taking what defenses want to give you each game,” said Mount Union head coach Vince Kehres. “We had some new guys on the offensive line and then losing Frazier [Daniel] at the end of preseason camp set us back with our run blocking. I think we are getting in stride with our blocking now.”
The Purple Raiders led 9-0 after the first quarter following an unconventional start with a safety and subsequent TD following the free kick.
Mount Union (7-0, 6-0) gained 509 yards on offense and added 213 return yards. Hill returned five punts for 155 yards, including an 85-yarder for a touchdown in the third quarter. He’s now returned two this season.
“It hasn’t been frustrating at all because I know the opportunities will be there,” Petruccelli said.
Mount Union still had 280 passing yards on 17-of-29 from junior D’Angelo Fulford, including a pair of passing TDs to Hill and Ruth.
Hill also had a 85-yard punt return for a touchdown. His second of the season.
“Heidelberg had a really good punter and we stressed being able to catch the ball instead of giving up those extra 10 to 15 yards on a bounce,” Kehres said. “We have two very capable guys in Justin and Jared who can make a big play every time they get their hands on the ball.”
The Purple Raiders led 26-0 after three quarters before exploding with four touchdowns in the fourth quarter to surpass the 50-point mark for the sixth time in seven games.
“It’s fun watching us score all the points,” Petruccelli said. “I don’t care if we get them on the ground or through the air.”