Purple Raiders shine on defense




Coaches say defense wins championships. It can also win football games too as Mount Union proved on Saturday afternoon in a battle of ranked unbeatens.

The top-ranked Purple Raiders (3-0, 2-0 OAC) forced four turnovers and turned two of them directly into touchdowns to defeat No. 15 John Carroll 23-10 before almost 6,000 fans at Mount Union Stadium.

Seniors Danny Robinson and Lou Berry each recorded a strip sack and eventual score in a hard-fought defensive battle. Robinson’s touchdown gave Mount Union its first lead of the game just before halftime when the Blue Streaks tried to get tricky by lining quarterback Anthony Moeglin in the slot and Jake Floreia took the direct snap.

He was met by a swarm of Purple Raiders, including Robinson, who knocked the ball loose and scooped it up for the 13-yard touchdown to give Mount Union a 13-7 lead.

“That was a big play because I thought after that first drive we settled in defensively and did the things we wanted to do,” said Mount Union head coach Vince Kehres. “I stressed patience this week. We were not going to score every time we had the ball. We had to let the plays happen naturally.”

John Carroll (2-1, 1-1) took a 7-0 lead with a 81-yard drive to open the game. Moeglin finished off the series with a 5-yard touchdown. It was the Blue Streaks’ only touchdown of the game.

Kicker Matt Danko provided the only other points for John Carroll with a career-long 45 yard field goal that made it 16-10 early in the fourth quarter. Both teams struggled to pick up first downs in the final 15 minutes to set up the end of the game dramatics.

Mount Union also only scored one offensive touchdown — a 27 yard pass from D’Angelo Fulford to Jawanza Evans-Morris — with 5:07 left in the second quarter but the Purple Raiders missed the PAT to trail 7-6.

Robinson’s play took care of that deficit.

“They went with a formation that we had seen. We knew with the quarterback out in the slot they were probably up to something and we just had to make the play,” Robinson said. “A bunch of my teammates were in on the stop and then I reached in to get the ball. We practice plays like that all the time.”

That practice paid off when Berry duplicated Robinson’s feat at the end of the game. The senior from Pittsburgh came on a blitz and instead of hitting Moeglin, he opted to go for the strip and returned it 45 yards for a 23-10 lead with :34 seconds remaining.

“[I thought] there’s still time left in the game,” said Kehres, who admitted he wasn’t comfortable yet with the lead. “I am almost speechless at what I saw [by Berry]. I remember seeing him come in with a blitz that we hadn’t shown yet and then I see him running to the end zone.”

Berry is also a sprinter on the Mount Union track team.

“It was down and distance. I didn’t want to just hit him because they had a timeout left so I wanted to make a play,” Berry said.