University of Mount Union head football coach Larry Kehres showed the world in 2011 that he knows how offense is played, coordinating that side of the ball for the gold-medal winning U.S. Men’s National Team.
This fall, he’s been showing the competition how much he knows about defense as well.
Mount Union (8-0), the No. 1-ranked team in NCAA Division III, has given up just 21 points in eight games this season, in the process matching a Division III record of six-consecutive shutouts, spanning from Sept. 15 to Oct. 20.
The Raiders’ season opened with a 45-7 win over Franklin (Ind.). Then came victories over Muskingum, Marietta, Ohio Northern, Wilmington, Capital and Otterbein by a combined 342-0.
Mount Union had a chance at setting an NCAA all-divisions record with a seventh straight shutout last Saturday against Heidelberg but a first-quarter touchdown by No. 14 Heidelberg ended that opportunity. It was the first points of the season given up by the Raiders’ starting unit and the first time the Raiders had trailed at the end of the first quarter in 22 games.
Mount Union quickly rallied and beat Heidelberg, 33-14.
The recipe for success is simple, according to Kehres. "Experience, speed and great tackling," he told The Alliance (Ohio) Review.
And six shutouts in a row are nothing new to Kehres and the Raiders. The 2007 Purple Raiders also achieved the feat, matching Plymouth State in 1982.
Kehres also recently passed Paul "Bear" Bryant for career wins, moving into fourth all-time on the NCAA list with 325.
But records aren’t the focus for Kehres. His goal each season is to win a national championship. The Purple Raiders have played in the last seven Division III title games, winning three.
The Mount Union defense is allowing 143 yards per game, including just 44 on the ground.
Not to be outdone, the Purple Raider offense leads Division III with 52.5 points per game, averaging 519 yards every time out.
Mount Union travels to No. 18 Baldwin-Wallace on Saturday.