Mount Union’s 2012 team named to ESPN’s 150 greatest teams
ALLIANCE — As part of ESPN’s year-long initiative marking the 150-year anniversary of college football, ESPN has ranked the 150 greatest college football single-season teams of all time.
The 2012 Mount Union football team, which went 15-0 and won the team’s 11th national title in college football hall of famer Larry Kehres’ final game as head coach, is the only NCAA Division III team on the list.
The panel of 150 media members, athletic administrators and former players and coaches selected these teams from 210 finalists initially identified by ESPN’s Sports & Information group.
“The voters went for national champions galore — undefeated champions, one-loss champions and, at the very top, rarely tested champions. But not every team here finished No. 1. The highest-ranked one-loss team, at No. 31, is remembered for the game it didn’t win,” ESPN college football commentator Ivan Maisel SAID. “The final list represents an array of styles but a commonality of substance, and the teams range from one that played 131 years ago to two squads that suited up as recently as 2018.”
Heading into 2012, the Mount Union senior football players were in danger of being the first incoming class since 1989 to leave without winning a national title, but with hard work, dedication and pride — the Purple Raiders accomplished their mission by bringing an 11th National Championship back to campus with a 28-10 victory over the University of St. Thomas (Minn.) in Stagg Bowl XL.
One of the more memorable games in Mount Union history happened the week before in the national semifinals, as the Raiders rallied from a 28-14 deficit with 11 minutes to play in the third quarter to defeat Mary Hardin-Baylor, 48-35 at Mount Union Stadium. Jake Simon scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 12-yard run with five seconds left in the game.
For the season, Mount Union bested its own NCAA all-division record for points scored in a season racking up 792 points, averaging 52.8 points per game, while on defense the Raiders were the nation’s top-ranked unit allowing just 8.9 points and 182.6 yards per game. In five playoff games, Mount Union scored an average of 55 points a game.
Sophomore quarterback Kevin Burke earned All-American honors as the nation’s top-rated passer. he completed 69-percent of his passes for 3,772 yards with 38 touchdowns. His top receiver was All-American senior Jasper Collins, who had 92 catches for 1,694 yards with 22 touchdowns — a record 11 of those coming during the NCAA playoffs.
Burke also rushed for 776 yards as part of a balanced ground attack. Senior running back T.J. Lattimore had 1,018 yards and 14 touchdowns behind an offensive line that featured five seniors — three of them All-Americans (Antonio Tate, Matt Mattox, Mac Knisely).
Sophomore running back Drew Prendergast — a 2011 graduate of Minerva High School — played in 11 games, including three playoff games, and was the Purple Raiders’ sixth-leading rusher with 224 yards and two touchdowns on 55 carries (4.1).
All-American senior safety Nick Driskill had a team-high 101 tackles and 14 1/2 tackles for loss to lead the defense.
Fellow All-American senior linebacker Charles Dieuseul had 89 stops with 13 1/2 tackles for loss and 5 1/2 sacks.
The defensive line duo of senior Frank Orteca and junior Matt Fechko combined for 106 tackles, while senior defensive back Isaiah Scott had seven interceptions.