Scoring has rarely been a problem this season for Western Maryland. The inability to stop quality offenses, however, was a major reason the Green Terrors went six weeks without a victory.
The Green Terrors atoned for their mistakes yesterday. Sparked by two third-quarter defensive stands deep in its territory, host Western Maryland responded with two touchdowns to pull away to a 20-3 victory over rival Johns Hopkins at muddy Bair Stadium.
The Green Terrors finished the season with a two-game winning streak, their first of the year. They also dealt the Blue Jays (4-6) their fourth defeat in five weeks and sent coach Jim Margraff to his first losing season in four years at Hopkins. The Blue Jays were 0-5 on the road.
"It sounds funny, but considering where we were, it's good to go out 3-5-1," senior running back Rob Johnson said. "We had high hopes for the season. Then we had a couple of setbacks. But we always knew we were a good team."
Johnson finished a brilliant career by rushing for 63 yards to finish with 874 for the season, 3,405 in four years. He also caught a touchdown pass from Brian Van Deusen, the sophomore quarterback who gives the Green Terrors plenty of hope for the future.
Van Deusen (Atholton) completed 10 of 26 passes for 197 yards and three touchdowns. He ended his first season as a starter with 2,294 yards, 17 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. In his last three games, Van Deusen threw for seven touchdowns with no interceptions. He hasn't been picked off in 134 attempts.
And on a day when Van Deusen and Hopkins quarterback John Guglielmo (15-for-32, 225 yards) battled the elements as much as the defenses, it was the much-maligned Western Maryland defense -- which entered the game giving up 28.3 points a game -- that stepped up.
The Green Terrors faced a Blue Jays offense that has sputtered in the past month. Hopkins had scored 46 points in its four previous games.
Yesterday, behind linebacker Dennis Walker (14 tackles) and end Bob Symanski (12 tackles, one fumble recovery, one interception), the Green Terrors intercepted Guglielmo twice and forced him to fumble once in his college finale.
And the defense, despite giving up 295 yards, turned the game around in the third quarter. First, it stopped the Blue Jays' opening drive of the second half at the Western Maryland 12, when Matt Coleman's 30-yard field goal hooked left, preserving the Green Terrors' 7-3 halftime lead.
On their next possession, the Blue Jays moved 62 yards, 53 on a completion from Guglielmo to Matt Luciano. But on fourth-and-four at the Western Maryland 5, the Green Terrors pressured Guglielmo into throwing incomplete in the end zone.
Western Maryland quickly took control after that. Van Deusen needed three passes to move the team 95 yards. First, he hit Alan Pietkiewicz for 19 yards along the right sideline. Then, he connected with Keith Abel for 44 yards on a crossing pattern. Finally, he found Paul McCord for a 32-yard score that gave Western Maryland a 14-3 lead with 4:34 left in the third period.
McCord, who also played his last game, did more damage with his right foot. He punted 10 times, averaging 37.3 yards, giving the Blue Jays field-position headaches.
"In weather like this, it was real important for me to kick my squibs away from people today, because the man with the ball always has an advantage on the coverage people on a bad field," McCord said.
"It took awhile for us to come together as a team this year. We have a new system, a new approach," first-year coach Tim Keating said. "They finally bought into the bill of goods that I was trying to sell them. And these last two weeks are the result."