Roundup: GCC grad Mahoney, Mount Union roll on
It's a blowout virtually every week, yet there's never a letdown.
When the Mount Union football team downed Wilmington 62-0 on Saturday, the Purple Raiders improved to 5-0 overall, 4-0 in the NCAA Division III Ohio Athletic Conference and kept them ranked No. 1 in the nation.
The Purple Raiders have outscored their opposition 271-48 this season. They've won 20 straight games and 78 consecutive regular season games. Mount Union has won a Division III record 11 national championships.
Just how does one team consistently stay so dominant?
Jeannette native Pat Mahoney is the starting center for Mount Union, and he said the fact that the team is successful every year breeds future success. The prestige of being the top program in Division III attracts top players, and a roster full of top-quality athletes makes everyone even better.
“Honestly, I think the reason we're so good all the time is because we go up against the best defense in the country every day in practice, our defense,” said Mahoney, a Greensburg Central Catholic graduate. “And the reason the defense is so good is they're always going up against our offense.”
Mahoney, a junior, was a reserve defensive lineman with Mount Union his first two years with the program then moved to center during spring practice and immediately grabbed the starting job. He said while he's still learning the position, he's more than comfortable along the offensive line now.
“You're always learning, and there are some things you can't learn in practice, you can only learn them during games,” he said. “But I feel comfortable at center. I like it a lot.”
Mahoney and Mount Union visit OAC rival Capital (1-4, 1-3) this Saturday. Kickoff is at 1:30 p.m. and the game will be broadcast at athletics.mountunion.edu.
IUP endures first loss
IUP appeared unbeatable.
Entering Saturday, the Crimson Hawks — featuring Jeannette grad Jordan Batts at defensive end — were 5-0 overall and 1-0 in the Division II Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC), having outscored their opponents 187-30.
IUP was ranked No. 7 in the nation by the American Football Coaches Association and appeared poised to cruise through the regular season unscathed. Then, Saturday, IUP was shocked, losing to Slippery Rock 42-16.
“I guess you could say they caught us on a bad day. They were just the better team that day,” said Batts, a redshirt sophomore. “We're not as good as we thought, so we've got to get back to work.
“This is good in a way in that in showed everybody on the team that we definitely still need to work hard to get to where we want to be … we're going to get back to work, win the rest of our games and win the national championship.”
Batts, who figured in on six tackles against Slippery Rock, likened the defeat to the Crimson Hawks' loss to California in 2012. After that loss, IUP bounced back to win the rest of its regular season games, advancing deep into the playoffs and finishing two wins away from a national title.
The quest to get back on the track starts this Saturday when IUP hosts Edinboro.
“We're taking this one week and a time. That loss is behind us now, and we're focused on Edinboro.”
The Fighting Scotts are 3-3 overall and 0-2 in the PSAC after dropping a game to Gannon 55-14 on Saturday.
“We're not looking past anyone right now,” said Batts. “After us losing by so many points, everyone is going to think they can beat us.”
Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. The game will be broadcast at 92.5 FM and at IUPathletics.com.
Paulone gains more yards
Waynesburg, featuring Jeannette grad Thomas Paulone at running back, continues to show it's a force in the Division III Presidents' Athletic Conference.
On Saturday, the Yellow Jackets hit the road and romped PAC rival Grove City 38-0 to improve to 5-1 overall and 3-1 in the PAC.
Paulone, a senior, averaged 5.3 yards per carry, gaining 32 yards on six carries. He's third on the team with 117 rushing yards and (among backs with at least five carries), and he leads the team with a 5.3 overall average per carry.
Waynesburg returns home Saturday to host PAC foe Bethany (2-3, 2-1) at 1:30 p.m. The game will be broadcast at Waynesburgsports.com.
Craft sees action
Jeannette grad Shavonta Craft, a freshman running back at West Liberty, was second on the team in rushing with 30 yards on two carries in the Hilltoppers' 27-21 win at Fairmont State on Saturday.
West Liberty is now 3-3 overall and 3-1 in the Mountain East Conference.
The team hosts Urbana (4-2, 4-1) this Saturday at 1 p.m. The game will be broadcast at Hilltopperssports.com.
Cox, MSU win
At the Division I level, Michigan State and Jeannette grad Demetrious Cox improved to 5-1 overall and 2-0 in the Big Ten Conference with a 42-28 win over Indiana on Saturday. Cox is a redshirt freshman reserve safety and special teams player with the Spartans.
The team hosts Purdue (1-5, 0-2) this Saturday at noon; the game will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network. Michigan State remains unranked in the Associated Press top 25 poll, but a win Saturday could bump the Spartans into the rankings.
Brian Knavish is a contributing writer.