Mount Union wins record 12th football title

Mount Union defensive end Tom Lally (90) and coach Vince Kehres celebrate following the team's 49-35 victory against St. Thomas in the NCAA Division III football championship game in Salem, Va., Friday, Dec. 18, 2015. (AP Photo/Michael Shroyer)
Mount Union defensive end Tom Lally (90) and coach Vince Kehres celebrate following the team's 49-35 victory against St. Thomas in the NCAA Division III football championship game in Salem, Va., Friday, Dec. 18, 2015. (AP Photo/Michael Shroyer)

SALEM, Va. (AP) – Taurice Scott threw three touchdown passes and ran for another score and Mount Union won its NCAA-best 12th football title, beating St. Thomas of Minnesota 49-35 on Friday night in the Division III championship game.

Logan Nemeth ran 220 yards and two touchdowns for the Purple Raiders (15-0), who were appearing in the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl for the 11th consecutive season. Vince Kehres won his first national championship in three tries as head coach after father Larry led the Purple Raiders to the first 11 titles.

Jordan Roberts ran for 135 yards and two touchdowns for St. Thomas (14-1). The Tommies also played for the title in 2012, losing 28-10 to Mount Union.

The Purple Raiders took command in the third quarter with three four-play touchdown drives sandwiched around a turnover and a three-and-out by the Tommies. The burst took just 5:08 and turned a 21-14 deficit into a 35-21 lead. St. Thomas got back within a touchdown on a fluky touchdown, but the Tommies had no answer for the big-play capabilities of the Purple Raiders.

In the 21-0 third-quarter burst, Scott hit Roman Namdar for 63 yards to highlight the first drive, a fumble recovery set up the second, and Nemeth had a 42-yard run on the third drive before Scott’s 18-yard scoring run.

St. Thomas fluky touchdown came when Nick Waldvogel fumbled on run up the middle, and the ball bounced sideways and into the hands of quarterback John Gould, who outran the defense 55 yards.

Mount Union, which was driving into a gusting wind in the third quarter, let Nemeth do most of the heavy lifting in the final quarter as it chewed time off the clock.

Unable to generate any offense moving into the stiff wind in the first quarter, Mount Union scored on its first two possessions of the second quarter with the wind at its back. Nemeth set up the first score with a 40-yard run, and Scott hit Lane Clark from 7 yards out for the touchdown. It was the 42nd touchdown pass of the season for Scott. He later hit Clark for another, from 13 yards, to make it 21-all.

After a three-and-out for the Tommies, Nemeth had runs of 15 and 3 yards, and Scott then hit Namdar for 29 yards and the touchdown, his 20th scoring catch of the season.

The Tommies got help from a pass-interference call in converting a fourth-and-6 play from the Mount Union 30. After a holding call, Gould hit Charlie Dowdle for 25 yards. Dowdle initially bobbled the ball as he passed through the end zone, but a review ruled he gained possession in time for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead.

It was the largest deficit the Purple Raiders have faced this season, and the Tommies doubled it in the second quarter, again with help. It came in the form of a fake punt by Mount Union that failed, giving St. Thomas the ball at the Purple Raiders 34. Eight runs later, Jordan Roberts ran it in on fourth-and-goal from the 1.

It was Roberts’ 33rd rushing touchdown, tops among NCAA players at all levels this season.

(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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