Washington & Lee meets Mount Union in NCAA Division III Football Playoffs

THE SERIES:
Washington and Lee and Mount Union have never met on the gridiron.  In fact, the Generals have never played a school from the Ohio Athletic Conference and have played a total of just 12 games all-time against schools from the state of Ohio.  W&L is 4-8 against schools from the Buckeye state, with the last encounter being a 27-9 loss to Case Western Reserve during the 2006 season.  Below is a tally of W&L's games against Ohio schools:

Case Western Reserve (1-1)   
Cincinnati (0-1)   
Denison (0-4)
Oberlin (2-0)   
Ohio (1-0)   
Wittenberg (0-2)

HEAD COACH SCOTT ABELL:
Scott Abell (Longwood '92) is in his sixth season as the Generals' head coach and he carries a 39-23 (.629) overall record.  Abell has led W&L to three ODAC titles and he has twice been named ODAC Coach of the Year.  He's also been named the VaSID Coach of the Year twice and received the Williard Bailey Award twice as the top NCAA Division II/III Coach in the State of Virginia.

MOUNT UNION HEAD COACH VINCE KEHRES:
Mount Union is led by fifth-year Head Coach Vince Kehres (Mount Union '98), who is 65-4 (.942) overall with the Purple Raiders.  He has won four OAC titles and advanced to the Stagg Bowl three times, winning the National Championship in 2015.

ALL-TIME RECORD:
W&L has a storied tradition that began with the first officially recognized game in the South, an 1873 matchup with neighboring VMI.  The first official season was 1890 and over their 124 seasons, the Generals have compiled a 517-529-39 (.494) overall record.

SUSTAINED SUCCESS:
Since 2010, W&L has produced a 55-28 (.663) overall record and a 39-14 (.736) mark in the Old Dominion Athletic Conference.  The Generals have also claimed four ODAC titles during that stretch.

TALKING TITLES:
Washington and Lee won its 11th conference championship in the program's 125 seasons and the third ODAC title since 2010.    Listed below are the all-time conference championships, along with W&L's NCAA Tournament history.

Washington and Lee Conference Championships
1914 - South Atlantic Champions
1934 - Southern Conference Champions
1950 - Southern Conference Champions (Played in 1951 Gator Bowl)
1962 - College Athletic Conference Champions
1981 - Old Dominion Athletic Conference Champions
1985 - Old Dominion Athletic Conference Champions
2006 - Old Dominion Athletic Conference Champions
2010 - Old Dominion Athletic Conference Champions
2012 - Old Dominion Athletic Conference Champions
2015 - Old Dominion Athletic Conference Champions
2017 - Old Dominion Athletic Conference Champions

LAST TIME OUT:
(W&L 48, SHENANDOAH 21 - 11/11/17 - WINCHESTER, VA.)
Washington and Lee rolled up 613 yards of total offense en route to posting a 48-21 victory over Shenandoah at Shentel Stadium. The Generals ground out 466 yards via the rush, as first-year running back Josh Breece finished the game with 280 rushing yards and three touchdowns on just 21 carries.  W&L jumped out to a 20-0 lead midway through the second quarter.  Breece scored on a 42-yard touchdown run on the game's opening drive for a 7-0 lead just 3:50 into the contest.  The Generals forced a pair of Shenandoah punts in the first quarter and added to the lead with a 2-yard touchdown run by Breece at the 12:05 mark of the second quarter.  W&L forced a 3-and-out on the next Shenandoah series and the Hornets' punt travelled just eight yards setting up W&L at the SU 41-yardline.  Junior running back Collin Sherman scored on a 5-yard run just six plays later for the 20-0 lead with 7:57 left in the first half.  The PAT was no good.  The Hornets made it 20-7 with a 25-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Hayden Bauserman to wide receiver Michael Ashwell at the 4:29 mark, but W&L retaliated just three plays later with a 70-yard touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Drew Richardson to senior running back Josh Malm for a 27-7 lead with 2:55 left in the half.  After the break, the Generals forced a Shenandoah fumble on the opening series and made it a 34-7 game on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Richardson to senior wide receiver Witt Hawkins with 11:11 left in the third.  Shenandoah sliced it to a 34-20 game on a pair of third quarter scores, but the Generals began to grind away at the clock, eating up 10:19 of game time with a 17-play, 79-yard drive that made it 41-20 with 5:47 remaining.  Sherman finished off the possession with a 1-yard touchdown plunge.  The Generals held the Hornets on downs at the 5-yardline with just over one minute remaining and Breece finished things off with a school-record 95-yard touchdown run.  He finished the game one yard shy of the school record for rushing yards in a game.  Sherman completed the game with 122 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries, his second straight 100-yard effort.  Richardson completed all four of his passes for 123 yards and two touchdowns, and he rushed for 51 yards on seven carries.  Hawkins caught two passes for 45 yards and a touchdown and Malm added the one 70-yard touchdown catch.  Senior linebacker Max Garrett compiled a career-high 18 tackles for the defense.  Shenandoah amassed 408 yards of total offense led by Bauserman, who completed 37-of-48 passes for 324 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions.  Running back Jalen Hudson posted 35 yards and a touchdown on five carries and caught nine passes for 50 yards.  Linebacker T.J. Heflin logged a game-high 20 tackles for the Hornets.

LAST NCAA TOURNAMENT GAME:
(THOMAS MORE 51, W&L 21 - 11/21/15 - CRESTVIEW HILLS, KY.)
Thomas More gained 522 total yards and jumped out to a 35-0 lead en route to posting a 51-21 win over Washington and Lee in the first round of the NCAA Division III Football Championship at BB&T Field.  The Generals drove the ball well early on, but committed two first quarter turnovers and missed a field goal early in the second quarter as the Saints raced out to a 28-0 lead midway through the second period.  Thomas More took the opening kickoff of the second half and marched 74 yards on 12 plays as senior quarterback Jensen Gebhardt hit senior wide receiver Michael Bernecker with a 15-yard touchdown pass that made it 35-0.   W&L erased its first half woes by producing an 8-play, 74-yard drive on its first possession of the second half, with quarterback Charlie Nelson scoring on an 11-yard touchdown run.  Despite surrendering another touchdown to the Saints, the Generals marched right down the field on their next drive as running back Connor Chess scored on a 7-yard scamper with 0:17 left in the third period to make it a 42-14 game.  The Saints tacked on a touchdown and a field goal, while running back Walker Brand capped the scoring on the day with an 8-yard touchdown run with 58 seconds left. The W&L offense finished with 332 total yards, including 323 rushing yards.  Nelson led the way with 138 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries.  He also was 2-of-10 passing for nine yards with one interception.  Brand amassed 60 yards and one touchdown on 16 carries, and Chess posted 54 yards and a touchdown on seven carries.  Linebacker Max Garrett produced a game-high 15 tackles, while safety Michael Shields compiled 11 stops and a forced fumble.  Gebhardt completed 15-of-26 passes for 163 yards and four touchdowns, while quarterback Brenan Kuntz went 2-for-2 for 53 yards and two more passing scores.  Running back C.T. Tarrant rushed 26 times for 145 yards and one touchdown, while Cohorn caught six passes for 91 yards and two touchdowns.  Linebacker Austin Copeland notched seven tackles and one interception.

W&L IN THE BIG DANCE:
W&L is making its fifth appearance in the NCAA Tournament and its first since the 2015 campaign.  The Generals carry an 0-4 record into this week's matchup against Mount Union.  W&L made its first appearance in 2006, falling to Wilkes, 42-0.  The second was in 2010 when Thomas More posted a 42-14 win.  In 2012 the Generals fell to Hobart, 38-20 and in 2015, W&L dropped a 51-21 decision to Thomas More.

2006: Wilkes 42, W&L 0   
2010: Thomas More 42, W&L 14       
2012: Hobart 38, W&L 20
2015: Thomas More 51, W&L 21

SCOUTING MOUNT UNION:
Mount Union is 10-0 overall and ranked second in the D3Football.com Division III poll.  The Purple Raiders have been a fixture on the DIII football scene over the past three decades, playing in the Stagg Bowl 19 times since 1993 and claiming 12 National Championships.  This year's version leads the country in scoring (56.7 ppg) and is sixth in total offense (507.1 ypg).  On the defensive side of the ball, Mount Union ranks third in yards allowed (210.8 ypg) and sixth in points allowed (10.0 ppg).  The Purple Raiders are also ranked fifth in Division III against the run (60.3 ypg).  UMU closed out its regular season with a 31-27 win over rival John Caroll last Saturday in University Heights, Ohio.  The Purple Raiders jumped out to a 17-0 first-half lead only to see the Blue Streaks battle all the way back to a 24-24 tie late in the third quarter.  However, Mount Union gained control back in the fourth quarter to claim its 26th undefeated regular-season in program history.  On offense, the Purple Raiders were led by sophomore quarterback D'Angelo Fulford, who completed 12-of-24 attempts for 187 yards and three touchdowns.  Junior running back Jawanza Evans-Morris tallied 110 yards on just 17 carries, while Justin Hill caught three passes for 62 yards.  Defensively, UMU allowed just 202 total yards and only 10 yards rushing to John Carroll.  Junior defensive back Louis Berry led the way with nine tackles, while senior defensive lineman Elijah Berry notched six tackles and 2.5 sacks.  Fulford has been terrific in his first season as the starter under center, completing 72.0 percent of his passes for 2,316 yards and 42 touchdowns with just a single interception.  He has also rushed for 350 yards and five more scores.  Evans-Morris has posted 808 rushing yards and eight touchdowns on 106 carries, while first-year running back Josh Petruccelli claims 650 yards and three touchdown on only 78 rushes.  Hill is the leading receiver with 757 yards and 14 touchdowns on 34 catches, and senior wide receiver Braeden Friss has 31 catches for 507 yards and eight scores.  Senior linebacker Charlie Dear has a team-best 59 tackles on the season.

THE RANKINGS:
Mount Union was ranked No. 2 in the D3Football.com preseason Division III poll and has remained in that spot for the rest of the season.  W&L received its first votes in the 2017 D3Football.com poll just this week, notching three points.  The Generals peaked at No. 16 in the final regular season poll of the 2015 campaign after producing the first undefeated regular-season in 54 years.

THE MAGIC NUMBER:
The magic number for success is 400.  W&L has managed 400 rushing yards in a game 37 times since 2010 (83 games).  In those games, the Generals are 34-3, scoring an average of 44.5 points per game with a scoring margin of +19.6 points per game.  To contrast this point, when W&L fails to rush for 400 yards during the same span, it is just 21-25 with an average of 24.4 points per game and a scoring margin of -1.2 points per game.

YOU NEED THE BALL TO SCORE:
If you need the ball to score, then possessing the ball is half the battle.  The Generals traditionally are a quick-strike offense, but this season have been controlling the clock.  W&L currently ranks sixth in Division III in time of possession, averaging 34:10 per game.  The Blue & White has led the time of possession battle in every game except the season-opener against Johns Hopkins and against Randolph-Macon, where the Yellow Jackets had the ball for just 17 seconds more than W&L.  In Saturday's win over Shenandoah, the Generals held the ball for 37:48, including a fourth-quarter scoring drive that ate up 10:19 of game time.

RECORD-BREAKER:
First-year running back Josh Breece has been having a record-breaking season for the Generals.  He has carried the ball 205 times for 1,656 yards and 18 touchdowns.  Breece has already eclipsed the school record for season rushing yards by more than 300 yards and he can set the ODAC record for rushing yards in a season with 75 more yards.  That record of 1,730 yards has been held by Sandy Rogers of Emory & Henry since 1986.  Breece totaled 280 yards in last week's win over Shenandoah and has now rushed for 529 yards over the last two weeks.  His yardage total from last week fell just one yard shy of the school record for rushing yards in a game.  As part of the 280 yards, Breece scored on a 95-yard touchdown run, which set the school record for the longest rush, breaking the mark of 94 yards that had stood since 1999.  Breece currently ranks fifth in Division III in rushing (1,656), third in rushing yards per carry (8.1), eighth in rushing touchdowns (18) and is tied for 13th in total points scored (108).  Since taking over as the starter at the O-Back position during the fourth game of the season, Breece has totaled 1,402 yards (200.3 ypg) and 13 touchdowns.

ONE-TWO PUNCH:
Junior running back Collin Sherman has provided W&L with a solid 1-2 punch at the O-Back position.  Sherman has received increased carries at the position since losing starting O-Back Walker Brand for the season due to injury.  Sherman has 700 yards and nine touchdowns on just 106 carries this season, including 589 yards across the last five weeks.  He tallied 102 yards on 10 carries against Guilford, 118 yards and two touchdowns against H-SC, 88 yards at Randolph-Macon, 159 yards and four touchdowns against Bridgewater and 122 yards and two touchdowns last week against Shenandoah.

FUTURE LOOKS GOOD:
W&L came into the season with a senior quarterback in Matt Sgro, who featured plenty of experience over his first three seasons.  Sgro started the first five games of the season, totaling 509 yards and five touchdowns in the ground and a team-best 317 passing yards with one touchdown.  He has played just one series since while battling a foot injury.  The Generals proceeded to win each of their final five league games, including three on the road, behind the tandem of sophomore Drew Richardson and first-year Trey Laughlin under center.  Neither had taken a snap at quarterback in a collegiate game entering the season.  Together, they have accounted for 276 yards and three touchdowns (1 INT) through the air and 505 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.  The two quarterbacks split every other series throughout the game.

SACK ATTACK:
W&L leads the conference with 26 sacks on the season.  That is the eighth-best team total in school history and the most since recording a program-record 43 sacks in 2004.  A total of 11 different players have at least one sack this season led by first-year defensive lineman Andrew Frailer, who is tied for fourth in the ODAC with 5.0 sacks this season.

MAD MAX:
Senior linebacker Max Garrett is racking up some impressive numbers across his W&L career.  A preseason All-America selection, Garrett has played in 41 games across his four seasons and is fifth among active Division III players with 373 career tackles.  He once again led the ODAC in tackles this season with 106 stops.  The 2017 campaign was his third straight season with 100 or more tackles.  He posted 53 stops as a first-year, 105 as a sophomore and 109 as a junior.  Garrett also has a career-best two interceptions this season.

NO GREY AREA:
There is no grey area when talking about the play of senior cornerback Grey Reames.  Reames has posted an interception in each of the last two weeks and now has nine career interceptions, two of which have been returned for touchdowns.  He may have produced a third last week if not for an inadvertent whistle that ended the play along the sideline.  In addition to his interception returns, Reames also returned a blocked PAT 98 yards for a 2-point conversion against Hampden-Sydney this season.  Reames leads the team with four interceptions this year, to go along with 43 total tackles.

BIG PLAY OFFENSE:
Washington and Lee might employ an option offense that is seen as a grind-it-out style of play, but in fact the Generals are a big-play offense.  W&L has produced 45 plays of 20 or more yards on offense this season, 35 of which have come on the ground.  First-year running back Josh Breece leads the way with 16 plays of 20 yards or more.  Senior quarterback Matt Sgro is next with eight plays of 20 yards or more -- three on the ground and five more through the air.

IN A RUSH:
W&L has consistently possessed the most potent rushing offense in the country in recent seasons and ranks second in Division III with an average of 421.5 rushing yards per game this season.  The Generals led all of college football in rushing in 2016 and 2015, and they have ranked no lower than sixth in DIII in rushing offense since 2010. 

Below is a look at the W&L national ranking in recent years.

2017: 2nd - 421.5 ypg   
2016: 1st - 390.3 ypg   
2015: 1st - 433.9 ypg   
2014: 6th - 300.4 ypg   
2013: 2nd - 346.7 ypg   
2012: 1st - 363.7 ypg   
2011: 4th - 331.8 ypg   
2010: 5th - 359.5 ypg


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