Story and photo courtesy of Johns Hopkins Athletics
BALTIMORE, Md. - Host Johns Hopkins jumped out to a 21-0 lead less than 16 minutes into Saturday's NCAA Division III First Round playoff game against visiting Washington & Jefferson and never looked back in cruising to a 42-10 victory at Homewood Field. The win moves the Blue Jays into the second round, where they will face top-ranked Mount Union, which defeated Christopher Newport, 72-14, in another first round game on Saturday.
After driving into Washington & Jefferson territory on their opening possession only to be stopped on downs, the Blue Jays took control with touchdowns on three straight possessions to take control.
Junior quarterback Robbie Matey gave the Blue Jays (10-1) a lead they would never relinquish as he scored on a seven-yard run up the middle with 6:28 remaining in the opening quarter to cap a 17-play, 69-yard drive. Hopkins converted on three, third-down chances to keep the drive alive.
After stopping the Presidents on fourth-and-one at their own 37, the Blue Jays needed just 92 seconds to extend the lead to 14-0 as Matey opened the drive with a 17-yard completion to tight end Brendan Hartman and closed it with a five-yard scoring pass to Dan Wodicka.
The Presidents suffered a tough loss on their ensuing possession as starting quarterback Matt Bliss was injured while scrambling and didn't return. The drive stalled inside Hopkins territory and Eric Eberle pinned the Blue Jays at their own 10 with a nice punt, but it took just eight plays for Hopkins to go 90 yards and extend the lead to 21-0.
An 18-yard run by senior Jonathan Rigaud jump-started the drive, which was extended on a third-and-four play by an 11-yard completion from Matey to Wodicka. One play later, Matey found Hartman down the middle for a 52-yard completion down to the W&J three-yard line. Three plays later senior fullback Scott Barletta went over from the one-yard line to give the Blue Jays what proved to an insurmountable 21-point lead.
The Presidents (8-3) got on the board late in the second quarter when Eberle connected on a 34-yard field goal to slice the deficit to 21-3. The Blue Jays were deep inside W&J territory and seemed poised to take a 28-0 lead before turning the ball over. The Presidents responded with an efficient 15-play, 66-yard drive that Eberle capped with his 11th field goal of the season.
The momentum gained on the field goal drive didn't make it to halftime for the Presidents, as JHU responded with a seven-play, 67-yard drive of its own that Rigaud polished off with a six-yard run to give Hopkins a 28-3 lead at the half. Rigaud jump-started the drive with a 14-yard run and Matey later connected with junior Jared Beekman for a 28-yard gain to the W&J 19. Rigaud's touchdown followed four plays later.
The pace of the game slowed in the second half as neither team scored in the third quarter, despite more than 160- yard of total offense in the period by Johns Hopkins.
Hopkins sandwiched a two-yard touchdown run by Barletta and a five-yard scoring run by Jason Blades around a 14-yard touchdown pass from Kevin Mechas to Hunter Creel for Washington & Jefferson in the fourth quarter to account for the final scoring.
Rigaud rushed for a game-high 155 yards and the one touchdown to lead a Johns Hopkins ground game that accounted for 282 yards and five touchdowns. Matey was 22-of-32 for 302 yards and the one score and also rushed for 35 yards and the one touchdown. Wodicka was his favorite target as he had 11 receptions for 98 yards and the one score.
Freshman Keith Corliss made the first start of his career at linebacker for the Blue Jays and responded with a team-high nine tackles, including one sack, and forced a fumble, to lead the way defensviely. The Hopkins defense registered four sacks, two interceptions and one fumble recovery in the victory and the held the Presidents to just 80 yard rushing on 32 attempts.
Mechas, who entered the game after second-string quarterback Shane Smith was knocked out of the game, was 16-of-35 for 155 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Creel had a team-high eight receptions for 82 yards and the one touchdown and three other players had four receptions for the Presidents, who generated 220 of their 300 yards of total offense through the air. Dion Wiegand rushed for 56 yards on 17 carries, but W&J converted just 5-of-19 third-down opportunities and didn't consistently keep drives alive throughout the game.
Hopkins ran 94 offensive plays in the game and that was reflected in the defensive statistics for W&J as five different players were in on 10 tackles or more. Ian Hennessey totaled a game-high 17 tackles to lead the way, while John Hunter added 16 tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack and two forced fumbles.
Johns Hopkins' game next week against Mount Union will be the first-ever meeting between the two teams and mark the first time a Blue Jay football team has ever played the top-ranked team in the nation. Hopkins has twice played a team ranked third in the nation as the Blue Jays played then third-ranked and eventual national finalist Bridgewater in 2001 and then third-ranked Wesley in the 2009 NCAA Quarterfinals.