Story and photo courtesy of Mount Union Athletics
ALLIANCE, Ohio - Sophomore quarterback Kevin Burke (Westlake/Lakewood St. Edward) threw three touchdown passes and ran in another to lead No. 1 ranked Mount Union to a 33-14 victory over No. 14/17 ranked Heidelberg in an Ohio Athletic Conference game Saturday at Mount Union Stadium.
Burke commanded an offense that had 493 yards as he completed 13-of-17 passes for 216 yards and ran for 67 yards on 16 carries on a cold, windy and rainy day. His three touchdown passes were to three different receivers in seniors Shannon Stewart (Bloomdale/Elmwood), Julius Moore (Lakeland, Fla./Kathleen Senior) and Chris Denton (Plantation, Fla./South Plantation).
Senior Jasper Collins (Geneva, N.Y./Geneva) ended up leading the receiving corps with 81 yards on five catches.
Senior running backs Blair Skilliter (Curtice/Genoa) and T.J. Lattimore (Maple Heights/Maple Heights) had 97 and 95 yards on the ground respectively. Skilliter had a 22-yard touchdown run as the Purple Raiders grinded out 277 total rushing yards.
Heidelberg (7-1, 6-1 OAC) came into the game on an 11-game win streak (second best in the nation) and took a 7-0 lead on the game's opening possession as quarterback Michael Mees hit C.J. Powell on an 11-yard touchdown pass and held that lead at the end of the first quarter.
It was the first points the Purple Raiders surrendered since the opening game of season at Franklin -- a span of 377 minutes 27 seconds.
It was also the first time since a 7-0 deficit at the 2010 National Championship game against UW-Whitewater that Mount Union trailed at the end of the first quarter of a game.
The nation's No. 1 rated defense then went to work holding Heidelberg to 20 total yards in the second quarter.
Burke then tossed TD passes of 37 yards to Stewart (extra point was no good) and a 38 yards to Moore (two point attempt no good) and the Raiders took a 12-7 lead at the half.
Mount Union was forced to punt on its first possession of the second half and senior Brandon Mathie (Louisville/Louisville), who had his best punting day of his career, pinned the Berg on its own nine-yard-line with a 40-yard punt. On the day, Mathie averaged 47.2 yards per punt including a school-record 78-yarder.
Heidelberg went three-and-out losing four yards then punted which Skilliter returned eight yards to the Berg 30-yard line. Then on fourth down Burke threw to Denton, who got in the end zone for a 29-yard touchdown pass that made it 19-7 with 8:49 to go in the third.
On the ensuing drive, Mees tossed his second interception of the game -- this one hauled in from senior Isaiah Scott (Hamilton/Fairfield) and eight plays later Skilliter ran it in from 22 yards out that extended the lead to 26-7 at the end of the third quarter.
Heidelberg missed a field goal on its next drive and the Raiders put the game away on a 15-play, 80-yard drive that consumed 9:30 and was ended when Burke ran it in from three yards out with just under three minutes to play.
Mees punched in a score with a one-yard run with just 10 seconds left on the clock.
Mount Union's defense held Heidelberg to 295 total yards -- the Berg was averaging 506.1 yards per game heading into the contest.
All-American seniors Nick Driskill (Wabash, Ind./Southwood) and Charles Dieuseul (Winter Haven, Fla./Lake Region) along with sophomore Ted Rosalva (Boynton Beach, Fla./American Heritage) each had nine stops to lead the defense.
Mount Union goes on the road for its final two regular season games starting next week at No. 18-ranked Baldwin Wallace at 1:30 pm in Berea.
A Mount Union win will clinch at least a share of its 21st consecutive conference title.