A historic road: John Carroll, Mount Union football teams both in national semifinals

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CLEVELAND -- It has been a historic road for both the John Carroll Blue Streaks and the Mount Union Purple Raiders football teams this year.

They are one win away from meeting each other in the NCAA Division III Stagg Bowl National Championship game in Salem, Virginia.

John Carroll won the Ohio Athletic Conference title outright for the first time since 1989 this past season. The Blue Streaks also hosted a second round playoff game for the first time ever and now they will be playing in the national semifinals for just the second time in school history. The last time they reached the national semifinal stage their coach, Tom Arth, was the quarterback.

“I have great, great memories of that season,” Arth said. “I know what that season and what that experience meant to me and the way that is shaped my life and the memories that I have with my teammates and that’s what I’m most excited about for these guys.”

The Blue Streaks will travel to Wisconsin for a third time this season to face Oshkosh. It will be the second meeting between these two schools this season. It`s the only blemish on the Blue Streaks record.

“I know the game plan will be different,” said Blue Streaks defensive back, Jovon Dawson. “Our attitude will be different, we are a lot more confident going into the game.”

Getting to the National Semifinals is nothing new for the Mount Union Purple Raiders. They've done it 22 straight years but what's different this year is they have played every postseason game away from Mount Union Stadium. As a team for the season, they've logged nearly 7,000 miles.

“We've really embraced being on the road and kind of a road-dog mentality and being the underdogs and back against the wall; it's making this team stronger,” said Mount Union Head Coach Vince Kehres.

The Purple Raiders will face Mary Hardin-Baylor in their semifinal game. The Crusaders are 13-0, ranked #2 in the country and have outscored their playoff opponents by a combined 115-54. The week 10 loss to John Carroll has this Purple Raiders team re-focused.

“With the loss comes you have to respond as a team; coach VK always talks to us about poise and that's something we had to have going into the playoffs on the road and I think it just helped our team in the long run,” said Mount Union running back Bradley Mitchell.

A win Saturday by both teams means a rematch of week 10 between John Carroll and Mount Union for the national championship. A game that started out this historical ride for both teams.

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