Mount Union starts slow, finishes strong
By JEFF ZUPANIC
Mount Union rarely loses regular-season games. It’s even more uncommon for the Purple Raiders to drop a season opener.
Saturday night eventually wasn’t any different for Division III’s No. 1 ranked team. Although it took a little bit longer for the offense to get going, once it got rolling it didn’t stop as the Purple Raiders defeated No. 20 Rose-Hulman 54-0 at Mount Union Stadium.
It was the Purple Raiders’ 31st straight season-opening win.
Despite a number of key returning players from last year’s national championship team, Mount Union didn’t score on its first two possessions and looked surprisingly sloppy.
The Purple Raiders had three penalties in their first seven plays and four total in the first quarter.
They even had a snap go over the head of the punter before senior Adam Snyder recovered the ball near the goal line and managed to get the kick off before the ball rolled dead at the 42. Rose-Hulman couldn’t take advantage of the field position and then fell victim to the snowball known as the purple avalanche.
“I expected our defense to play well [even with the new starters] and I told them that before the game,” Mount Union head coach Vince Kehres said. “We lost some talented men on the line from last year but I expect their replacements to play like All-OAC (Ohio Athletic Conference) guys.”
Following a defensive stop, Mount Union scored two touchdowns to close the first quarter and added another one early in the second quarter to lead 21-0.
Sophomore running back Josh Petruccelli scored the first points with a 1-yard run. Then junior quarterback D’Angelo Fulford hit senior wide receiver Jared Ruth for a 24-yard touchdown.
Fulford scored the third touchdown on the ground to close out the scoring spurt. Kicker Cory Barnett made it 24-0 with a 39-yard field goal with 10:23 left before halftime.
Rose-Hulman’s best scoring opportunity came after a Mount Union fumble deep in its own territory, but the Purple Raiders’ defense came up with four stops, including a pair on third and fourth downs from inside the 1-yard line.
The Purple Raiders led 44-0 after three quarters and Kehres pulled the starters.
“I thought our start to the third quarter was good because it was just a three-score game at half and we got a couple of turnovers and turned those into points and really put our opponent away,” Kehres said.
Fulford, the nation’s top rated passer last year, finished 17-of-27 for 192 yards and 2 passing TDs. He also added two more rushing scores and finished with 271 total yards. Petruccelli had 115 rushing yards and Ruth finished with two receiving TDs.
The defense was stout in recording its second straight shutout dating back to last year’s national championship game. The first-team held the Engineers to less than 100 yards total offense through three quarters and forced two turnovers.