ALLIANCE, Ohio – Washington and Lee limited second-ranked Mount Union to a season-low 276 yards of total offense and only 10 first downs in dropping a 21-0 decision to the Purple Raiders in the opening round of the NCAA football tournament at Mount Union Stadium.
Mount Union (11-0) grabbed a 14-0 lead in the first quarter after scoring touchdowns on short field situations. The Purple Raiders notched their first touchdown at the 6:56 mark of the first quarter on a 1-yard touchdown run by sophomore quarterback D'Angelo Fulford. UMU took over on the W&L 45-yardline following a Generals' fumble and scored nine plays later.
The second score occurred with 33 seconds left in the first quarter after taking over on the W&L 46-yardline, following a 26-yard punt into a stiff wind. Fulford found senior wide receiver Braeden Friss with a 10-yard touchdown pass six plays later for the 14-0 advantage.
Playing on a soggy field due to rain, which was heavy at times, the W&L offense simply could not find traction against one of the top defenses in Division III. The best possession of the first half for W&L ended on downs at the Mount Union 42-yardline with 9:33 left in the second quarter.
The Washington and Lee defense repeatedly turned away the Purple Raiders in the third quarter, shutting out an offense that averaged a Division III-best 56.7 points per game for the season. On offense, the Generals began to find footing, driving to the Mount Union 22-yardline on one series and to the UMU 34-yardline on another. However, the Blue & White was stopped on downs on each occasion.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Mount Union hit on its biggest play of the game, as Fulford hooked up with senior wide receiver Jared Ruth for a 60-yard touchdown pass and a 21-0 lead with 14:49 remaining. The Purple Raiders had managed just 20 yards passing through the first three quarters of play and finished with a season-low total of 80 for the game.
The Generals drove into Mount Union territory one more time on offense, but once again failed on downs with 5:01 remaining in the game.
W&L was shut out for the first time since the 2008 season, but produced 18 first downs and 269 yards of total offense, including 220 yards on the ground. The Generals were just 1-for-6 on fourth down in the contest, but held the ball for 37:19 of the game's 60 minutes.
First-year running back Josh Breece (Lorton, Va. / Stone Bridge) led the offense with 169 yards on 32 carries. He finished the season with 1,825 yards and 18 touchdowns on 237 carries. During the game, Breece surpassed Emory & Henry's Sandy Rogers for the ODAC record for rushing yards in a season. Rogers had compiled 1,730 yards during the 1986 campaign. Sophomore quarterback Drew Richardson (Watkinsville, Ga. / Athens Academy) completed 3-of-5 passes for 49 yards and rushed 13 times for 35 yards. Junior running back Collin Sherman (Virginia Beach, Va. / Cox) added 33 yards on 10 carries.
On defense, the Generals were paced by sophomore linebacker Will Corry (Watkinsville, Ga. / Athens Academy), who notched nine tackles and a fumble recovery.
Mount Union was paced by first-year running back Josh Petruccelli, who rushed for 118 yards on 19 carries. Fulford completed 4-of-9 passes for 80 yards and two touchdowns with one interception. He also rushed seven times for 20 yards and another score. Ruth snared two passes for 68 yards and a touchdown as well. On defense, junior linebacker Danny Robinson amassed a game-high 14 tackles and a half sack.
Washington and Lee has now finished its season with an 8-3 overall record as champions of the Old Dominion Athletic Conference. Mount Union advances to the second round in search of its 13th Division III National Championship.