A bubble burst on Saturday, Nov. 14, though its impact did not sink in until Sunday.
The season is over for the John Carroll University football team, as the Blue Streaks fell to the University of Mount Union, 36-3, at Don Shula Stadium on Saturday, and did not receive an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament on Sunday.
The Blue Streaks end the season with an 8-2 overall record, 7-2 in Ohio Athletic Conference play.
The JCU football team held full control of its destiny heading into its showdown with Mount Union. With a win, the Blue and Gold would earn an automatic bid to the playoffs.
A victory over Mount Union seemed realistic for 30 minutes in University Heights on Saturday. The Blue Streaks trailed by just seven heading into halftime. But the Purple Raiders outmuscled JCU in the second half, scoring 26 unanswered points.
Mount Union has now won its last 27 games against JCU, including four in the Tom Arth coaching era.
The Purple Raiders came out swinging on Saturday. The visitors struck first early in the first quarter, scoring on their third offensive play of the game. Quarterback Taurice Scott lofted an 18-yard pass to Jordan Hargrove for a touchdown, granting Mount Union a quick 7-0 lead.
Following a second straight JCU punt, Mount Union again put points on the board, this time a 33-yard Jake Antel field goal. With 7:45 remaining in the first quarter, the Purple Raiders held a 10-0 lead.
Feeling the pressure, the Blue Streaks began to step up. The JCU offense drove down the field, flipping the field position. The JCU defense then stopped the Mount Union offense on 4th and 3 from the JCU 9-yard line.
The teams then traded punts before a 14-yard Ray Brown sack forced a Mount Union punt deep inside its own territory. Following a punt, the Blue and Gold got on the board with a key 43-yard Jake Vivonetto field goal. Vivonetto’s foot narrowed the deficit to seven points with 3:11 left in the second quarter.
Each team received a shot to score, but neither team could convert. Vivonetto attempted a 50-yard field goal as time expired, but his kick fell just short, keeping the score locked at 10-3.
The wheels fell off for JCU in the third quarter.
Five plays into the second half, Scott connected with wide receiver Roman Namdar for a 35-yard touchdown, extending the Mount Union lead to 16-3. Following a JCU three-and-out and a meticulous drive, Scott struck again with a 4-yard touchdown strike to Logan Nemeth, making the score 23-3.
A critical error on the ensuing kickoff then sunk Blue and Gold. A Blue Streak returner fumbled a Mount Union squib kick, allowing Mount Union to recover at the JCU 35-yard line. Five plays later, Scott scored once again, finding Hargrove again for a 24-yard score. A failed two-point conversion kept the score at 29-3 with 6:40 left in the third.
The teams traded punts before a lengthy JCU drive stalled on 4th and 10 from the Mount Union 13-yard line late in the third quarter. The Purple Raiders then had a long drive stall, this time at midfield.
But instead of punting, head coach Vince Kehres and the Purple Raiders opted for a fake. The play worked to perfection, as Nemeth sprinted 51 yards for a touchdown. An Antel extra point placed the score at 36-3, the eventual final score.
Senior quarterback Jake Schaefer led the JCU offense, completing 21-of-43 passes for 150 yards. Junior safeties Reese Armstrong and Jovon Dawson led the JCU defense with a combined 24 tackles, one tackle for loss and one sack.
In three years under head coach Tom Arth, this is the first time the Blue Streaks will not participate in the NCAA Tournament.
The members of the football team’s senior class end their careers with an impressive 34-10 overall record, including a 16-6 mark at Don Shula Stadium.