by Clare Lopez-Kaley
For the second year in a row, the Benedictine University Eagles football team lost their first game in the NCAA Division III Playoffs. This year, the Eagles traveled to Alliance, Ohio to take on the number two ranked Mount Union Purple Raiders. The Raiders were undefeated for the sixth consecutive season.
The first quarter was a rough start for the Eagles, with a Mount Union touchdown halfway through the quarter. The defense continued to struggle, although the Eagles were aided by the play of junior defensive back Erik Rickert. Mount Union struck again after a five play, 62 yard drive ending in another Purple Raider touchdown.
In the second quarter, penalties started to affect the Eagles, with a pass interference call that lead to a Mount Union touchdown. The extra point was missed, so the Eagles went down 20-0. The Eagle defense stepped their game the next time on the field, with junior linebacker/safety Chris Buonavolanto making some plays.
The next possession for the Eagles started with small rushes from junior running back John Borsellino and senior running back Derek Hitt. This was followed by a pass from senior quarter back Matt Brown to senior wide receiver Brandin Austin for a 14 yard gain and a first down. Unfortunately, Brown’s third down pass resulted in an interception and a 44 yard return for a touchdown by the Raiders.
Benedictine left the first half, trailing 27-0, down 108-37 in passing yards, and 89-76 in rushing yards.
The Eagles came out in the second half with a lot more energy and a forced fumble by junior linebacker Edwin Davila. Brown took over for the Eagles as they made an aggressive drive to the end zone. On fourth down, Brown connected to Austin to complete the drive for a BenU touchdown.
Although the Eagles started out the second half with a hot streak, defensive penalties helped Mount Union regain control of the game. The score after three quarters was 33-7 due to missed extra point attempts by the Raiders.
Starting the fourth quarter with another bang, Mount Union scored quickly to stretch their lead. On BenU’s next possession, Brown fumbled the ball, resulting in the second turnover for the Eagles. Two 15 yard facemask penalties lead to Mount Union’s final touchdown and sealed the deal for the Eagles with a final score of 47-7.
“Mount Union is continually great for a reason, tip your hat off to them, they are a great team,” said senior tight end Bryan Wiesemann.
With the season being over, the seniors on the Benedictine Eagles football team have ended their careers.
“I feel that playing football at Benedictine has been a once in a lifetime experience,” Wiesemann added. “I love all my teammates and the coaches. I wouldn’t change this experience for anything. I loved playing Benedictine football, and I’ll be forever grateful to the University.”
Although this was a tough loss for the squad, this is the second consecutive NCAA Tournament appearance by the Eagles compared to Mount Union’s 23rd.