CAPITAL UPENDS WABASH, FACES A REMATCH WITH MOUNT UNION
It's rare that in a college football season a losing team will get a chance to avenge that loss later in the season. The Capital Crusaders, however, are an exception.
Thanks to a historic playoff run, most recently highlighted by a 14-11 victory over Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana, the Crusaders will get to tackle Mount Union again, this time in the elite 8 of the NCAA Division III playoffs. In an earlier meeting this year, Capital lost 42-24 in Alliance but held a 17-14 lead at the end of the third quarter. This game, too, will be played on the Purple Raiders' home turf.
Capital's two playoff victories have both come to the surprise of this writer. They have won two games on the road limiting two high-powered offenses, North Central and Wabash, to 19 and 11 points respectively. Though the offense has struggled, the emergence of Jeremy Mulkey and Lewis Howes has given the offense enough big plays to score. Though most saw the offense as this team's greatest threat coming into the season, it is the defense that is making this surreal postseason run a reality.
Reality will hit the Crusaders hard Saturday as once again they will have to play in the most hostile environment in Division III. When you play Mount Union, you don't just play the team on the field; you play the banners on the sidelines, seven of which display "National Champions."
The Crusaders will desperately need to find a way to slow down Pierre Garcon, the wideout who torched Capital for two touchdown receptions of longer than 60 yards. His big plays in the first meeting not only gave Mount Union the lead but put the game out of reach.
The casual observer would bet the farm on Mount Union this week, and who could blame him? After all, Capital hasn't beaten Mount Union since the 70s. If there was ever a Capital team in history that could pull off the upset, though, this is the group. This is a team that thrives on the improbable and the heartstopping. They have turned small-college football into a drama-style television show that picks up again every Saturday. This week, the drama features David and Goliath again. Only this time, David might be a little smarter, a little more prepared, and perhaps a little more in tune with his own destiny.
Best of luck to the Crusaders this week.