Youthful secondary contributing to Hopkins' solid pass defense

On a Johns Hopkins football team loaded with seniors, the secondary is the one unit that doesn't play a four-year veteran.

Junior Ryan Rice has started at cornerback for three seasons and leads the No. 12 Blue Jays with two interceptions in addition to 12 tackles. But junior cornerback Jimmy Holder (10 tackles and six combined pass breakups and defenses) and junior safety Chris Ibrahim (18 tackles) are first-year starters.

Sophomore safety T.J. Reeves has registered 12 tackles and six combined pass breakups and defenses. Sophomore cornerback Curtis Antrum has made 11 tackles, and freshman cornerback Marcus Spearman and freshman safety Jack Toner have each posted six tackles.

The secondary has helped Johns Hopkins (6-0 overall and 5-0 in the Centennial Conference) rank first in the league in pass defense by allowing opponents to average just 151.3 yards and score four passing touchdowns.

"The secondary’s playing very well," coach Jim Margraff said Wednesday. "We're playing a lot of people. We have a number of freshmen out there, too, that are getting some playing time. There's not a senior out there. They're all juniors and younger. So we're really excited about where we're going with this young group."

The pass defense will likely be challenged by Gettysburg's third-ranked pass offense that averages 249.5 yards and has scored 12 touchdowns. The Bullets (3-3, 2-3) are led by senior wide receiver Aden Twer, who ranks first in the conference in both receiving yards (509) and touchdowns (seven).

"He’s basically the fastest guy in the league," Margraff said of Twer. "You've got to decide whether you want to play deep and give up some under routes or if you want to try to pressure the quarterback and hopefully he doesn't hit him in stride. We're going to try to mix things up and do both, but he's very fast, he's got good hands, and he just comes up with big plays.

"I'd be shocked if they don't throw deep to him a minimum of 4 to 6 times. So our guys need to be ready for it."

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