ALLIANCE — Make it 22 straight Ohio Athletic Conference Championships for defending Division III National Champion Mount Union.
Former St. Edward star QB Kevin Burke threw for three touchdowns and ran for two more as the top-ranked Purple Raiders held off No. 9 John Carroll 42-34 Saturday afternoon.
Both teams came into the final game of the season with identical (9-0, 8-0) records, making it a de facto OAC Championship Game.
Former St. Ignatius QB Mark Myers threw for 451-yards and two touchdowns, but he also had a pair of costly interceptions.
Mount Union scored first, on Burke’s 48-yard touchdown pass to Luc Meachem in the first quarter, before John Carroll scored the next 10 points.
But that’s when Burke and the Purple Raiders offense appeared to take control.
Mount scored 21 unanswered points, capped off by Burke’s 34-yard pass to Brian Gainer just before halftime to give the Raiders a 28-10 lead at the break.
That lead grew to 35-13 late in the 3rd quarter, before Myers led JCU on a furious rally that cut it to 42-34 with 3:30 remaining.
The Blue Streaks defense sacked Burke on 3rd and long, forcing a Mount punt that gave Myers and JCU one last chance to force overtime.
Thanks in part to a holding penalty on Mount Union, JCU moved the ball all the way to the Raiders’ 15-yard line with less than a minute to play, but Myers’ 4th down pass fell incomplete and Mount Union escaped with the win.
That win clinches another NCAA Division III Playoffs berth for Mount Union (10-0, 9-0 OAC), along with a 22nd consecutive OAC Championship.
John Carroll (9-1, 8-1) is also expected to make the Playoffs as an at-large selection and could very well return to Alliance for a rematch in the opening round of the 32 team tournament, which starts next Sat., Nov. 23.