Kevin Burke's six scores power Mount Union to NCAA quarterfinals
ALLIANCE, Ohio -- Kevin Burke threw for five scores and ran for another to lead top ranked Mount Union to a 56-21 win against Wittenberg in the second round of the NCAA Division III Football Playoffs on Saturday at Mount Union Stadium.
It is the 22nd consecutive year that the Purple Raiders (12-0) advance to the quarterfinals which will be next Saturday at noon against Wesley (Del.) at a site to be announced Sunday by the NCAA.
Mount Union extended the nation's longest winning streak to 27 games while winning its 75th straight home game.
Burke's five touchdown passes matched a career high as he completed 20-of-32 passes for 326 yards. He also ran for a score on 83 yards rushing as he generated 406 of the Raiders' 601 yards on the day.
In his sixth start of the season, freshman running back Bradley Mitchell posted his sixth overall and fifth 100-yard rushing performance in a row with 143 yards on 19 carries.
Receivers in junior Luc Meacham and senior Jack Nicholls each went over 100 yards and had two touchdowns with 110 and 105 receiving yards respectively for the Raiders.
Wittenberg (10-2) quarterback Reed Florence threw for 327 yards and completed two touchdown passes to Brendon Cunningham, who had 168 yards receiving but the Tiger offense was held to just 130 yards in the second half.
The Mount Union defense -- rated No. 4 in the nation -- had three sacks, forced a fumble and got an interception. Junior safety Cody Pogorelc had 10 tackles, sophomore safety Alex Kocheff had nine stops and a fumble recovery while senior Isaiah Chambers had the interception.
Florence's two touchdown passes came on the Tigers' first two possesions and a 40-yard strike to Cunningham gave Wittenberg a 14-7 lead with 6:20 to play in the first quarter.
Burke answered on the ensuing possesion with a 32-yard TD run to finish a 73-yard drive and the game was tied 14-14 after the first quarter.
The game stayed tied until Burke engineered a 10-play, 92-yard drive that was capped with a five-yard touchdown pass to Nicholls with 27 seconds left in the half and gave Mount Union a 21-14 lead at the break.
The Raiders got the ball to start the second half and struck quickly as on the second play Burke found Sherman Wilkinson on a 57-yard bomb to put Mount Union up 28-14.
Wittenberg went three and out on its next drive and Burke made it 28-straight points for the Raiders when he found Meacham on a seven-yard strike as it was 35-14 with nine minutes left in the third quarter.
The Tigers scored on their next drive as Jimmy Dehnke ran a score in from 10 yards as Mount Union led 35-21 heading into the final quarter.
Mount Union tacked on three more scores -- a one-yard run from Mitchell, a 41-yard TD pass from Burke to Meacham and a four-yard run from running back Logan Nemeth for the 56-21 final.