It was expected to be Mount Union's stiffest test of the season. But as it turned out, it was business as usual for the Purple Raiders as they hung a 54-7 whipping on the Storm on a cold, blustery day at Mount Union Stadium.
The win, the 500th in school history, earns the Purple Raiders their third trip to the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl in Salem , Virginia next Saturday against Lycoming (Pa.) , which rallied to down Rowan (N.J.) 28-20 in the other semifinal contest.
It will be their third trip to the Stagg Bowl in the last five years.
Simpson head coach Jim Williams probably summed up the game best when he told the media afterward, "Mount Union can beat good teams very badly, and we are a good team."
The Storm entered the contest averaging nearly 340 yards rushing per game, but the Purple Raider defense held Simpson to just 91 yards on the ground.
With the ground game going nowhere, Storm quarterback Brad Jorgensen was forced to go to the air.
Although the 6-foot-2 senior completed 18-of-43 passes for 177 yards and a touchdown he had three passes picked of, including an interception by safety Kris Bugara that he returned 44 yards for a touchdown.
"I think our defense had control of the game from the first possession on," said Mount Union coach Larry Kehres. "When Simpson didn't run the ball for three, four or five first downs at a time in the first two our three series, that changed the nature of the game.
"That turned the game, in the first half, to a game with a lot of possessions, and that's the way we'd rather play."
With the defense shutting down the Storm, the Purple Raiders' offense got rolling early and often as it piled up 644 yards of total offense.
Despite battling a strong wind and wet field conditions, Mount Union quarterback Bill Borchert completed 20-of-38 passes for 396 yards and four touchdowns.
Borchert gave the Storm a preview of things to come on the first play of the game when he tossed a 49-yard pass to Kevin Knestrick, into the teeth of the wind, that set up the Purple Raiders' first touchdown.
"We noticed on film that (Simpson's) safeties were playing real tight on the tight end," said Borchert. "It was just a call to see how (Simpson) would play it."
Three plays later, Borchert hit Marc Lantos on a 20-yard touchdown pass. A bad snap foiled Bill Andrea's conversion kick, but the Purple Raiders were on the board.
Simpson's initial possession ended with a three-and-out and that, more than anything, took some of the wind out of Simpson's sails.
"When we weren't able to answer their score with one of our own, that began to take its toll on us psychologically," said Williams.
Mount Union drove to the Storm 6-yard line on its next possession , but Ed Pollock fumbled and Simpson recovered to kill the drive.
That was about the only mistake the Purple Raiders made all afternoon.
A 1-yard run by Steve Evans, who led Mount Union's rushing attack with 92 yards, made it 12-0 after one quarter.
The Purple Raiders scored twice in the second quarter on a 60-yard run by Evans and a 4-yard pass from Borchert to Lantos and led 26-0 at halftime.
Simpson got its only touchdown to start the second half on a 9-yard pass from Jorgensen to Cory Christensen.
But that was all the Storm fans had to cheer about, as Mount Union immediately blew the game open. Evans added a 5-yard touchdown run and Reiko Gollate pulled in a 20-yard scoring pass from Borchert to push the margin to 40-7 after three quarters.
Bugara's interception return and a 30-yard touchdown pass to Gollate in the fourth quarter rounded out the scoring.