Alex Lachman at practice

Johns Hopkins kicker Alex Lachman, here at practice, kicked a 43-yard, last-second field goal last week to send the Blue Jays to the NCAA Division III quarterfinals. (Photo by Colby Ware // Special to the Baltimore Sun / December 2, 2009)

Matt Stover had a hand in this. Or a foot.

Johns Hopkins plays in the NCAA Division III football quarterfinals Saturday, in part because its kicker studied last summer with Stover, the former Ravens great.

That kicker, Alex Lachman, booted a last-second, game-winning 43-yard field goal last week in Hopkins' 31-29 playoff victory over Thomas More.

The win sends the Blue Jays (10-2) to Dover, Del., to face Wesley (12-0) at noon. It's the third straight postseason road game for Hopkins, which has scored back-to-back victories over previously undefeated teams.

"We're playing about as well as we can play now," coach Jim Margraff said. "Wesley is one of the [Division III] superpowers, so we'll have to fight for every inch.

"If we're still around in the fourth quarter, we'll find a way to win."

Hopkins would be hard-pressed to match last week's finish. Trailing by two points with 51 seconds left, the Jays marched 44 yards to set up the winning kick by Lachman, a junior who punched it through with room to spare.

"He [Lachman] crushed it," Margraff said.

"That ball would have been good from 60 yards."

The kick would have done Stover proud. The NFL's fifth all-time scorer, Stover spent time with Lachman in August, critiquing his style and offering tips on a muggy day at McDonogh School.

On Wednesday, when he learned of Lachman's heroics from a Baltimore Sun reporter, Stover was elated.

"Fantastic!" he said. "That's a huge kick. When you see a guy like Alex, whom you've invested in, who has worked hard and who can help his team win ... that's what it's all about."

Margraff had sought Stover's help, as their daughters, both McDonogh students, are friends. Stover, now with the Indianapolis Colts, lives in Cockeysville.

"Matt and I are car-pool daddies, and he offered to help out," Margraff said.

"Alex is a terrific kicker, but we haven't really coached him at all [at Hopkins]."

Who better to tutor Lachman than the second-most accurate kicker in NFL history?

"He [Stover] helped a lot," said Lachman, a political science major from Livingston, N.J. "He changed my set-up. I used to take a wider angle on my approach, but he narrowed it some."

Stover called Lachman "a very attentive and coachable kid" who was anxious to hone his skills.

"I tweaked his technique here and there," he said. "I told him that it's nerve-wracking to be a kicker, and that just because you're nervous doesn't mean you're not a good one.