Mount Union tops Wesley 24-7 in Div III semisDec 12, 2009 - 10:37 PM ALLIANCE, Ohio(AP) -- Cecil Shorts caught a touchdown pass and ran for two more scores when he filled in at quarterback to lead Mount Union to a 24-7 victory over Wesley in the Division III semifinals Saturday.
The Purple Raiders (14-0) extended the nation's longest winning streak to 29 games and advanced to the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl for the fifth straight season and 13th time overall.
Mount Union will look to defend its title in a rematch with Wisconsin-Whitewater, which defeated Linfield 27-17 on Saturday. Its the fifth straight year the teams have met in the championship, which will be played in Salem, Va., next Saturday. Mount Union will be aiming for its 11th title.
Wesley (13-1) was making its fifth straight appearance in the Division III tournament and its third trip to the semifinals. The Wolverines scored in the third quarter on Sean McAndrew's 4-yard touchdown pass to Shane McSweeney.
Shorts' play at wide receiver and quarterback led Wesley coach Mike Drass to a simple conclusion.
"To me, he's the best player in Division III football," Drass said. "I don't think you look at it any other way. That's how good I think that kid is."
Shorts caught a 15-yard touchdown from Kurt Rocco on the Purple Raiders' first drive of the game. He moved from receiver to quarterback in the third quarter after Rocco was injured. Shorts ran for a 3-yard score in the fourth quarter to give Mount Union a 10-point lead and added a 4-yard run later in the quarter.
Shorts ran for 110 yards on 18 carries and caught two passes for 26 yards. He took over the game at an opportune time with Wesley cutting the lead to 10-7 in the third quarter and appearing to gain the momentum.
Rocco left the game after taking a hard hit while fumbling in the first quarter. Freshman Neal Seaman took over at quarterback for Mount Union, but the offense stalled and coach Larry Kehres called on Shorts to run the offense.
"Cecil was a quarterback when he came to Mount Union," Kehres said. "He hasn't practiced a lot at quarterback lately, probably a mistake by us, but he's a veteran. I felt in a tight game we needed to get a veteran at the controls."
Shorts, who took all the snaps from the shotgun formation, was ready for the switch.
"I wasn't surprised," he said. "Coach came in at halftime and said he might put me at quarterback. I felt comfortable back there."
Kehres said Rocco's status will be assessed before the title game and Shorts will take some snaps at quarterback in practice.
Mount Union, which had scored 50 or more points in seven consecutive games, jumped to a quick lead on its first two possessions. The Purple Raiders scored on a 6-play, 43-yard drive, capped by Rocco's pass to Shorts. Herman Timmersjo kicked a 28-yard field goal to make it 10-0, but neither team scored the remainder of the half.
Mount Union is 258-11-1 since 1990, including the two longest win streaks in college football, 55 and 54 games.
"It's still a thrill for me," Kehres said about returning to the title game. "The unique part of it for me is that it's new players and different men as the leaders and captains. It's getting to the game through the course of the season. It's not just that game. It's the process you have to go through to earn the right to get to that game."