On Saturday, Johns Hopkins managed to do something it had never done in the history of it's football program. The Blue Jays won a home playoff game, defeating Washington & Jefferson, 42-10, in the first round of the Division III tournament at Homewood Field.
Robbie Matey led Hopkins (10-1), completing 22-of-32 passes for 302 yards and accounting for two touchdowns (one rushing). Jonathan Rigaud rushed for 156 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries.
As big as the win was, what lies ahead is an even greater challenge for the Blue Jays, who travel to Alliance, Ohio, to play Mount Union next week. The Purple Raiders have reached the Division III championship game every year since 2008.
"They are the class of Division III football," Hopkins coach Jim Margraff said. "Just like coming to Homewood Field and playing lacrosse has a mystique to it, so does going to Mount Union. It's the most historic place in Division III football."
Washington & Jefferson (8-3) was no amateur to the playoffs. The Presidents have been in the tournament 22 times, trailing only Mount Union in playoff appearances.
But Hopkins used an efficient non-huddle office to amass 595 yards of total offense. The defense didn't hurt the Blue Jays' cause either, as Hopkins knocked two Presidents quarterbacks out of the game (one would later return.)
"Right from the beginning, we clicked today," Matey said. "Our goal was to get them stretched out and use the whole field. I think we did a good job with that."
The Blue Jays used all of their tools on offense, racking up 282 on the ground and 312 through the air.
Hopkins opened the scoring midway through the first quarter, mounting a 17-play, 69-yard drive that was capped by a 7-yard touchdown run by Matey. It appeared the drive had been stopped after seven plays, by the Presidents were called for a roughing penalty on a punt, giving Hopkins a first down.
Hopkins extended the lead on its next possession, when Matey found Daniel Wodicka on a 5-yard touchdown pass with 4:09 left in the first quarter.
"It was a little screen, and our wide receivers did a good job on the play," Wodicka said.
Hopkins added another touchdown on the third play of the second quarter when Scott Barletta scored on a 1-yard run to make the score 21-0,.Rigaud scored on a six-yard run with 1:48 left to give Hopkins a 28-3 lead heading into the half.
The Blue Jays outgained Washington & Jefferson 347-124 in the first half, with most of the advantage coming through the air.
Hopkins also got fourth-quarter rushing touchdowns from Barletta and Jason Blades.
"It was special playing — and winning — at home," Rigaud said. "Last year [losing at home in the playoffs] left a bad taste in my stomach. Today, we came out and played hard. I'm really happy with the results."