NCAA DIVISION III CHAMPIONSHIP
ST. THOMAS VS. MOUNT UNION
6 p.m. today • Salem Stadium, Salem, Va. • TV: ESPNU (104.1-FM)
St. Thomas at a glance: The No. 3 Tommies (14-0) are in the national title game for the first time in school history. They have not lost a regular-season game since 2009 and are 39-2 over the past three seasons. They are 11-3 in the NCAA playoffs over the past four years; before 2009, they had made the playoffs only once (1990).
Sophomore quarterback Matt O'Connell leads a balanced offense, which averages 247 rushing yards and 227 passing yards per game. Running back Brenton Braddock (93.8 yards per game) tops the rushing attack, while a deep receiving corps is headed by Dan Ferrazzo (54 catches, 788 yards) and Logan Marks (45, 506). The defense also spreads the workload among several key players, including linebackers Tremayne Williams (56 tackles, four sacks, two interceptions) and Chinni Oji (43 tackles, four interceptions, two recovered fumbles).
Mount Union at a glance: Though the Purple Raiders (14-0) will play in the title game for the eighth consecutive season, they are seeking their first championship since 2008. They played Wisconsin-Whitewater for the title in each of the past seven years, winning in 2005, 2006 and 2008. Twice, they have won three titles in a row (1996-98, 2000-02). Mount Union has made the final in 16 of the past 20 years and has won 10 national titles while compiling a 77-13 record in the playoffs.
The Purple Raiders have outscored opponents by nearly 46 points per game and have scored a Division III-record 249 points in four playoff games. Sophomore quarterback Kevin Burke leads Division III in passing efficiency; he has completed 68.9 percent of his passes while throwing for 37 touchdowns and seven interceptions, and his 53.4 rushing yards per game are second to senior running back T.J. Lattimore (72.7). Burke's favorite target is wide receiver Jasper Collins. The senior has caught 22 touchdown passes and is averaging 112.4 receiving yards per game, and he has set D-III records with 11 TD catches and 675 receiving yards in the postseason.