ALLIANCE, Ohio (AP) — A lot of numbers were staring Mount Union in the face Saturday — 16 trips to the Stagg Bowl, 19 straight Division III semifinal appearances, 28 wins in a row, 77 straight home victories.
But the only number with any significance for the Purple Raiders was 41.
With 1:38 remaining in the game, Mount Union's Kevin Burke led the offense on a game-winning scoring drive in the snow to give the Purple Raiders the 41-40 D-III playoff semifinal victory over North Central (Ill.).
Burke completed 12 of his 19 passes for 163 yards and a touchdown, but he burned North Central (13-1) with his feet, gaining 131 yards and two TDs on 28 carries.
The Raiders (14-0) were down 40-35 when they took the field late in the fourth following a 1-yard TD run from Cardinals Matt Randolph, who finished the day with 20 carries for 68 yards and three scores.
North Central was also led by Spencer Stanek, who completed 19 of 37 passes for 198 yards and two TDs, adding another 61 yards rushing on 11 attempts.
"I don't think anybody panicked when we got behind," Purple Raiders coach Vince Kehres said. "It brought the guys together."
And they weren't thinking about the history books, either.
"You don't think about numbers or records or being undefeated or any of that," Burke said. "As a player, you focus on your job and you can't think about outside factors of the football game. You can't get caught up in media or numbers or glory or whatever it may be."
It worked, because in just three plays, Mount Union took the lead for good, with Burke completing the 26-yard TD pass to Mike Collichio. The double-move down the right sideline was the first touchdown of the sophomore receiver's career.