Johns Hopkins Advances To NCAA Second Round With 42-10 Win Over W&J
BALTIMORE, Md. -- Fifteenth-ranked Johns Hopkins gained 595 yards of total offense and earned a 42-10 victory over Washington & Jefferson Saturday in the first round of the NCAA Division III football playoffs at Homewood Field.
The Presidents (8-3) fell behind by a 28-3 margin at halftime and had four different players take snaps from center. Junior Matt Bliss (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park) suffered an injury late in the first quarter and did not return, while his backup, freshman Shane Smith (Fredonia, N.Y./Fredonia), was also forced to leave due to injury midway through the second quarter. Freshman Kevin Mechas (Pittsburgh, Pa./Bishop Canevin) took over and played the remainder of the game in his first collegiate appearance. Junior wide receiver Alex Baroffio (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park) also received direct snaps from center on a handful of plays.
The W&J defense forced Johns Hopkins (10-1) to turn the ball over on downs on its first possession as senior linebacker Ian Hennessy (Gibsonia, Pa./Pine-Richland) stopped running back Jonathan Rigaud on a 4th-and-1 play. The Presidents were forced to punt three plays later and the defense appeared to step up again and force a JHU punt. However, W&J was flagged for a roughing the center personal foul on the punt which resulted in an automatic first down. Ten plays later, quarterback Robbie Matey scrambled seven yards for the opening score.
Washington & Jefferson was stopped short of the first down marker after three plays on its next series and gambled by going for it on a 4th-and-1 play on its own 37. Junior running back Dion Wiegand (Pittsburgh, Pa./Keystone Oaks) was stopped short of the marker and JHU capitalized with a quick, five-play touchdown drive. Matey tossed a five-yard pass to Daniel Wodicka for the 14-0 lead.
The Blue Jays upped their lead to 21-0 on the second play of the second quarter when Scott Barletta capped a six-play, 86-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run.
The Presidents' defense forced fumbles on the next two Johns Hopkins' drives. Sophomore cornerback Dan Sciortino (Chagrin Falls, Ohio/Kenston) recoved the first, while senior defensive end John Watts (St. Johns, Fla./Jacksonville University) pounced on the second. W&J strung together a 15-play, 66-yard drive and junior Eric Eberle (Mifflintown, Pa./Juniata) kicked a 34-yard field goal to narrow the gap to 21-3 with 4:16 left in the second quarter.
However, Johns Hopkins had an answer with a 67-yard drive which Rigaud capped on a six-yard run for the 25-point halftime advantage. Following a scoreless third quarter, the lead swelled to 35-3 following Barletta's two-yard touchdown rush on the sixth play of the fourth quarter.
W&J scored its lone touchdown just over four minutes later when Mechas threw a 14-yard scoring pass to senior wide receiver Hunter Creel (Industry, Pa./Western Beaver). Mechas completed six passes on the drive, including four to Creel.
Jason Blades capped the scoring with a five-yard touchdown run with 3:37 remaining. Matey directed the JHU no-huddle offense with 22 completions on 32 attempts for 305 yards and one touchdown. He also rushed 10 times for 35 yards and a score. Rigaud piled up 155 of Johns Hopkins' 282 rushing yards. The Blue Jays had four sacks, including one by Keith Corliss, who had a team-high nine tackles.
Mechas completed 16-of-35 passes for 155 yards and one touchdown. He was picked off twice in the fourth quarter. Creel caught eight passes for 82 yards, while Wiegand rushed for 56 yards and added 46 receiving and 113 on kickoff returns for 215 all-purpose yards . W&J posted 300 total yards and was only able to convert 5-of-19 third-down chances.
Hennessy and senior linebacker John Hunter (Gibsonia, Pa./Pine-Richland) wrapped up their years in red and black uniforms with career-high tackle performances. Hennessy recorded 17 stops, while Hunter notched 16. Hunter also had a sack and forced two fumbles. Five different defenders had 10 or more tackles as the Blue Jays ran 94 plays.
The Presidents finished their Presidents' Athletic Conference championship season with an 8-3 record, the first time a W&J team has finished with that mark in the 122-year history of the program. W&J made its 22nd appearance in the NCAA Division III playoffs, which ranks second in history.