Jeannette's Mahoney helps D-III power Mount Union to national title game
College Football Videos
The University of Mount Union boats one of the top football programs in all of NCAA Division III.
Entering last weekend, the Purple Raiders had played in the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl — the Division III national championship game — a staggering eight straight years and 16 times in the previous 18 years.
“We expect to be in Salem every year,” said starting right guard Pat Mahoney, referring to the town in Virginia that hosts the Stagg Bowl every year.
Make that nine straight years, as Mahoney, a Jeannette native and Greensburg Central Catholic graduate, and his Mount Union team are back in the Stagg Bowl once again. They'll play the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater for the national championship this Friday. This time, however they came scarily close to missing the annual trip to Salem.
In the semifinals on Saturday, Mount Union built a 27-16 third quarter lead over North Central, before the Cardinals mounted a serious comeback.
North Central pulled ahead 34-27 early in the fourth quarter before Mount Union reclaimed the lead 35-34. Then, with a 1:38 left, things got scary for the Purple Raiders as North Central scored a touchdown run by Matt Randolph (and failed on a two point conversion attempt) to take a 40-35 lead.
Mahoney said even with a deficit and less than two minutes left, his team wasn't worried.
“When they scored and we got the ball back, we stayed confident,” he said. “”We work on the two minute offense in practice all the time.”
You can see where the confidence comes from as, three plays later, Mount Union scored a touchdown on a pass from quarterback Kevin Burke to Mike Collichio. A two point conversion run by Burke gave the Purple Raiders a 41-40 lead, and their defense then held onto that score for one more minute to give Mount Union an ultra dramatic win.
“We've been in tight games in the past, but nothing that big, a national semifinal game,” said Mahoney. “Plus, it was really snowing. There was snow everywhere. There were two-to-four inches on the field, which was challenging in itself. It was pretty crazy, actually.”
Mount Union is now 14-0 and ranked No. 1 in Division III. They've won 29 consecutive games, including 77 straight at home.
Undefeated Wisconsin-Whitewater is familiar national title game foe, as this will be the eighth time in the past nine seasons that the two teams will meet in the Stagg Bowl.
For Mahoney, a junior, there's some extra motivation, even beyond the national championship.
Last year, when Mahoney was a sophomore, Mount Union went undefeated and beat St. Thomas the Stagg Bowl. The year before, the Purple Raiders went undefeated until the Stagg Bowl when they lost to Whitewater.
“Whitewater is the only loss we've had in my (college) career,” said Mahoney. “There's that redemption factor.”
Kickoff for Friday's Stagg Bowl is set for 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on ESPNU.
Brian Knavish is a contributing writer.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- District college notebook: IUP senior puts Stamp on program
- Campus clippings: Springdale grad nets All-PAC honors
- Cal U falls after earning No. 22 ranking
- Thiel big man Mallinger thrives on rejection
- Daily Courier roundup: Penn State Fayette women fall to Slippery Rock
- Campus clippings: Keeper Daughtry scores a goal for Waynesburg
- Seton Hill men prepare for 2nd year in PSAC
- District college football preview: Slippery Rock seeks first NCAA playoff win since 1998