The View From Pluto: Football Powerhouse Mount Union Finally Has A Rival
The University of Mount Union football program had the longest regular-season winning streak in the NCAA -- until this past weekend. It ended at 112 games to their Division III neighbors to the north, John Carroll University.
With the win, John Carroll claimed the Ohio Athletic Conference title for the first time since 1994 and snagged an automatic bid to the 32-team Division III tournament. Mount Union, meanwhile, received an at-large bid.
The two teams could meet again in the NCAA tournament which begins this weekend.
WKSU commentator Terry Pluto says it was a stunning finale.
"The amazing thing is that usually when Mount Union does lose, it’s deep in the NCAA Tournament. This time, they lost to John Carroll in the regular season for the first time since 2005. And, when they lost back in 2005, that ended a regular season winning streak of 110 games."
It is the first John Carroll win against Mount Union since 1989.
"John Carroll is the team that certainly wants to beat their rivals. It’s the closest Division III school geographically -- Mount Union in Alliance and John Carroll in University Heights in suburban Cleveland," Pluto says.
"Making this 31-28 victory even more amazing is that it was played in Alliance in front of 5,000 fans. Usually, Mount Union manhandles their opponents, but John Carroll handled them even."
"Twelve national titles. Two coaches. One family, father and son. That's what John Carroll was facing."
Both teams have freshman quarterbacks who are northeast Ohio natives. John Carroll's Anthony Moeglin of St. Thomas Aquinas in Canton engineered the big winning drive. Mount Union's quarterback, Dom Davis is a freshman from Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s.
Two young, homegrown coaches
John Carroll's 35-year-old coach, Tom Arth, was a quarterback at Carroll and then played briefly in the NFL as a backup to Peyton Manning for a couple years.
"He came back to John Carroll as an assistant coach and then took over as head coach four years ago basically to try to revive the program," Pluto says.
The coach of Mount Union, Vince Kehres, 40, is in his fourth year as coach.
"He’s part of the Kehres dynasty. Vince’s father, Larry, won 11 national titles. Vince won his first title last year. Twelve national titles. Two coaches. One family, father and son. That’s what John Carroll was facing. John Carroll – no national titles. A good program, but not a great one," Pluto says.
A welcomed rivalry
"There’s actually another school in the area that can make it interesting for Mount Union," Pluto says. "I’ve been waiting for a while for some team to come back and say, 'I’m going to make Mount Union sweat a bit.' I think they will. And of course, the Kehres family will tell you, ‘Yeah we’ll sweat a bit. It’s just going to make us better; it’s going to make us more determined and we want another crack at John Carroll.'
"Never under estimate Mount Union," Pluto says. "They could very well end up facing John Carroll down the line."