For the 25th straight year, the Ohio Athletic Conference title belongs to the University of Mount Union.
On Saturday, Nov. 15, the John Carroll University football team fell to the Purple Raiders, 31-24, after time ran out when the Blue Streaks spiked the ball with under three seconds left –– an illegal play according to NCAA rules.
After trailing Mount Union all game, JCU knotted it up at 24 with just over three minutes left in the game. The team came storming back after being down as much as 17 in the first half.
But, after allowing a Mount Union touchdown with 1:12 left in the game and no timeouts, the outlook seemed grim for JCU.
Four consecutive complete passes from senior quarterback Mark Myers, along with a personal foul facemask penalty on the Purple Raiders, allowed the Blue Streaks to get down to the Mount Union 30 yard line with just 30 seconds left.
Myers found an outstretched receiver in senior Aramis Greenwood for a 23-yard reception with just two seconds remaining. The entire offense rushed to the line and spiked the ball, hoping to regroup for one last chance at the end zone.
To the surprise of the Blue Streaks, the clock still ran out and the Mount Union student section began to rush the field.
In 2013, the NCAA implemented a new rule in which a team cannot spike the ball with under three seconds remaining. Myers spiked the ball with two seconds left, the clock ran out and Mount Union emerged victorious by just one score for the second straight year.
It was a hard-fought battle throughout the game, regardless of the outcome. Although the start was rough for the Blue Streaks.
During JCU’s second possession of the game, Myers threw his second interception of the season. This one was to Mount Union’s Tre Jones, who opened up the scoring when he returned the interception 32 yards for a touchdown.
The Purple Raiders eventually stretched their lead to 21-0 with a pair of second quarter touchdowns. However, JCU responded promptly when senior running back Tommy Michals ripped off the longest run of the season for any team against Mount Union when he scampered for a 57-yard touchdown run to make it 21-7.
After a Mount Union field goal to end the half, the Blue Streaks faced a 24-7 halftime deficit, their biggest of the season.
But the second half was all JCU, as Michals put another one in the end zone at the end of the third quarter and Myers found sophomore receiver Marshall Howell for a touchdown in the early fourth quarter to cut the lead to just 24-21.
Backup quarterback and now kicker senior Wes Keller knotted it up with just three minutes left when he booted a 20-yard field goal.
The Purple Raiders finally found their stride once again and scored their only points of the half on a B.J Mitchell 8-yard touchdown run with 1:12 left. That score turned out to be the deciding touchdown in JCU’s 31-24 defeat.
Michals ended the day with 181 rushing yards and two touchdowns. It was a career day for Michals against one of the top defenses in the nation.
Despite the loss, the Blue Streaks earned their second consecutive bid to the NCAA Division III Tournament. JCU hosts undefeated Centre College on Saturday, Nov. 22 at noon at Don Shula Stadium.