September 7, 2011

Titans Primed To Challenge Second-Ranked Purple Raiders

UW-Oshkosh will try to hand the University of Mount Union its first regular-season loss in 54 games when the two teams collide on Saturday (Sept. 10) in Alliance, Ohio. The Purple Raiders enter the week ranked second in the NCAA Division III by D3football.com.

Mount Union, which owns a 153-6 record since 2000, recently captured national titles in 2008, 2006, 2002, 2001 and 2000. After starting 14-0 the last two years, the Purple Raiders fell to UW-Whitewater in the NCAA Division III Championship. Saturday's game will be the first of the year for Mount Union, as it tries to extend a 23-game winning streak in openers.

All-American receiver Cecil Shorts departed to the NFL, but the Purple Raiders still bring back 16 starters from 2010. Quarterback Neal Seaman dissected defenses for 3,190 yards and 28 touchdowns last year. His top targets are Jasper Collins, who had 908 yards, and Brandon Brown (481). Jeremy Murray gave the unit plenty of balance with 1,616 rushing yards and 21 scores.

While the offense tallied 39 points per game in 2010, Mount Union's defense led the nation by allowing nine points per contest. The secondary remains strong, where Alex Ferrara and Nick Driskill each intercepted five passes last year. Driskill is the top returning tackler with 80, while Charles Dieuseul is coming off a nine-sack campaign.

UW-Oshkosh hosted the Purple Raiders in their first-ever meeting last season. Seaman amassed 328 yards and five touchdowns as Mount Union posted a 45-28 victory. The Titans hung tough, tallying the most points against the Purple Raiders in 123 regular-season games. Nate Wara (Jr. • Oshkosh) led the attack with 238 passing yards, 80 rushing yards and three touchdowns. Topping the Titan receivers, Garrie Fox (Sr. • Madison) recorded 81 yards on five grabs.

This will be the second straight week UW-Oshkosh (1-0) faces a perennial powerhouse. The Titans were opportunistic on both sides of the ball during their 31-28 triumph over Central College (Iowa). The offense marked scoring plays of 84, 51 and 29 yards to obtain a 24-7 advantage. Receiver Caleb Voss (So. • Van Dyne) was the game-breaker, totaling 148 yards and two scores. UW-Oshkosh's defense forced five turnovers to hold on for the victory.

The Titans received votes in the D3football.com poll to unofficially rank 37th in the country. UW-Oshkosh is aiming for its fourth 2-0 start in the last five years.