TIFFIN, Ohio—The Heidelberg University football team will look to assume a share of first place in the Ohio Athletic Conference on Saturday, Oct. 15 when it hosts No. 2 University of Mount Union in an OAC game in Tiffin, Ohio. Kickoff from Mayer Field is slated for 1:30 p.m.
The game will be broadcast live on WTTF (1600 AM, 93.3 FM). John Cullen and Matt Harp will have the call. In addition, live stats will be available at http://www.heidelberg.edu/statcrew/fb/xlive.htm.
The game is also designated as a ‘Berg Pride Event, in which fans can purchase incentive-based cards and t-shirts supporting Heidelberg Athletics.
The Student Princes, under the direction of fifth-year head coach Mike Hallett, are 4-1 overall and 3-1 in the OAC for the first time since beginning the 1993 season 5-0 and 4-0 in the conference, and received votes (two) for the first time in this week’s American Football Coaches Association top-25 poll. The Berg defeated Muskingum University, 17-7, in New Concord in its last game.
The Purple Raiders of 26th-year head coach Larry Kehres, ranked second for the 14th consecutive week since the start of the 2010 season and receiving three first-place votes, enter the game 5-0 overall and 4-0 in the OAC, and are riding a 52-game conference winning streak. Mount Union defeated Marietta College, 62-0, last week in Alliance.
This will be the fifth meeting between Hallett and his former mentor, Kehres. Hallett was a defensive lineman at Mount Union during the early 1990’s.
Saturday’s game will feature a pair of high-powered, nationally-ranked offenses that protect the football. Heidelberg’s offense ranks 22nd nationally with 450.8 yards per game (second in the OAC), including 223.8 yards per game on the ground and 227.0 yards per game through the air—both of which rank third in the league—and scores 33.4 points per game. Leading the rushing attack will be sophomore second-team All-OAC running back Germany Woods (Cleveland/Lakewood St. Edward), whose 624 rushing yards and 124.8 ypg. are second in the OAC and 18th nationally. Woods, who tallied 136 rushing yards on a career-high 33 carries last week against Muskingum, has rushed for 100 yards in four of five games this season and eight of his last nine contests dating back to 2010.
Freshman quarterback Michael Mees (North Ridgeville) will direct the offense. Mees has completed 52.5 percent (74-of-141) of his passes this season for 1,088 yards and 12 touchdowns against only three interceptions, while ranking second in the league with 217.6 ypg. and fourth with a pass efficiency rating of 141.1. Among Mees’ favorite targets are junior wide receiver Mario Escalante (Highland Heights, Ky./Newport Central Catholic) and senior wide receiver CJ Powell (Detroit, Mich./Bishop Foley). Escalante and Powell have each caught a team-best 15 passes, while Escalante leads with 310 receiving yards and Powell leads with five TD receptions.
The Student Princes will go against a Mount Union defense that ranks within the nation’s top-10 in five defensive categories, including total defense (first, 170.6 ypg.), pass efficiency defense (second, 72.09), scoring defense (third, 7.4 ppg.), pass defense (sixth, 112.8 ypg.) and rush defense (seventh, 57.8 ypg.). Nick Driskill leads the Purple Raider defensive unit and is 10th in the OAC with 39 tackles, including a team-high 8.5 for loss. Seven Purple Raiders have made interceptions this season, led by Tyler Alwardt with two.
Both teams create an abundance of turnovers while protecting the football. The Student Princes, who have created 22 turnovers, including 10 INTs over the last two games, lead all of NCAA Division III with a plus-2.8 turnover margin per game, while Mount Union is fifth with a plus-2.2.
The Raider offense tops the nation by scoring 48.2 points per game and is sixth with 501.6 yards of total offense per game, including 283.6 rushing ypg. (10th) and 218.0 passing ypg. Kehres will look to Jeremy Murray to do most of the ground work. Murray leads the conference and ranks third nationally with 157.6 rushing ypg.
Mount Union’s aerial attack is led by Neal Seaman. Seaman is completing 65.4 percent (51-of-78) of his passes for 566 yards and five TDs against only one INT. Matt Piloto (29-of-43, 467 yards, four TDs, two INTs) will also see action under center. Seaman and Piloto often look for Jasper Collins, who is fifth in the OAC with 29 receptions for 377 yards and has five TDs.
Defensively, the Student Princes allow 18.6 points and 373.4 yards of total offense per game, including 154.4 rushing yards and 219.0 passing ypg. The unit is led by junior linebacker Craig Sykes (Centerburg), the OAC’s fourth leading tackler with 51 stops, including four tackles for loss and one sack. Additionally, Sykes and junior safety Tyler Levanduski (Elyria/Amherst Steele) share the league lead with three INTs. Senior linebacker Andy Fadenholz (Grafton/Keystone) has a team-high five tackles in the backfield, including four sacks, also a team best. The defensive line is anchored by junior Stephen Fejedelem (Ravenna) with 23 tackles and two sacks, while Levanduski leads the secondary with 35 hits.
Following Saturday’s gridiron game, the Student Princes will face Marietta College on Saturday, Oct. 22 in Marietta.