The Wolverines gave defending national champ Mount Union all it could handle before falling in the Division III semifinals 24-7.
Wesley College’s third trip to the NCAA Division III national semifinals in five years results in a third loss, leaving the Wolverines one win shy of the Stagg Bowl again. Wesley, ranked number three in the nation, put pressure on top-ranked defending national champ Mount Union before losing 24-7 in Alliance, Ohio.
Trailing 10-0 in the third quarter, Wolverines quarterback Shane McSweeny connected with tight end Sean McAndrews on a 4 yard TD pass to trim the Purple Raiders lead to just three, but Wesley was unable to score again, managing just 53 yards the rest of the game.
“We were right there, 10-7. We felt we could play with them and could win the game. ” said Wesley head coach Mike Drass.
Wesley was held to a season-low 191 yards and committed 4 turnovers, three coming on McSweeny interceptions.
The Purple Raiders offense also struggled much of the game after starting quarterback Kurt Rocco was knocked out of the game on a big first quarter hit by Wesley’s Aaron Benson, but Mount Union wide receiver Cecil Shorts responded, rushing for 98 yards and two touchdowns out of the Wildcat formation. Shorts also caught caught a TD pass.
“They did a good job in the Wildcat with Shorts. They ran to the weakside, and we hadn’t seen that on film. He just put the team on his back.” Drass said. “”I look at him and see a player who answered the bell today. He’s the best player in Division III.”
Wesley finishes its season at 13-1. Disappointed, but proud of their 2009 campaign
“You have to try to enjoy it. It’s not every team, every year that makes it this far.” said Wesley offensive lineman Matt Ferguson. “We were just one of four teams still playing this week. It was exciting and I’ll always remember.”
Mount Union returns to the DIII title game, the Stagg Bowl, for a 12th time in 14 years and will look to grab its fourth title when it faces the winner of the Wisconsin-Whitewater/Linfield (OR) semifinal in Salem, Virginia next Saturday.