DOVER, Del. - -Johns Hopkins battled the weather and its own mistakes and lost on both fronts Saturday afternoon.
The Blue Jays' football season ended with a 12-0 loss in a Division III quarterfinal to host Wesley at Miller Stadium, as both of the Wolverines' scores came off Johns Hopkins miscues.
Entrenched in a scoreless tie early in the second quarter and heading into a stiff wind while facing fourth-and-2 from their 28-yard line, the Blue Jays attempted a fake punt.
Michael Murray took a direct snap but was taken down by the Wolverines' Abeeb Badmus for a 6-yard loss.
Wesley coach Mike Drass said Murray tipped his hand - literally.
"[Murray] took his gloves off and we started screaming on the sideline, 'Fake! Fake!' because he took his gloves off and we were wondering why," Drass said.
Five plays, 22 yards and 2 minutes, 18 seconds later, Wesley's Aaron Jackson bowled over a pair of would-be tacklers and went in for a 4-yard touchdown run with 9:07 remaining in the second quarter. Collin Blugis missed the point-after kick, and the Wolverines led 6-0 at halftime.
Johns Hopkins coach Jim Margraff said he called the fake because the wind would have knocked down a punt.
As the second half began, sleet began to fall and the turf became slick.
With just under 13 minutes left in the third quarter, Johns Hopkins lined up to punt again. This time, Wesley's Aaron Benson blocked Max Islinger's attempt and Leonard Stevenson jumped on the loose ball at Johns Hopkins' 18-yard line. Five plays later, Wolverines quarterback Shane McSweeny scored on a 3-yard keeper that made it 12-0.
Blue Jays senior linebacker Colin Wixted said the miscues didn't weigh on his teammates.
"I think we play off [adversity] pretty well," Wixted said. "Like the blocked punt and turnovers like that, I think that kind of fuels us. I think we play more pumped up when we're backed up against the wall.
"I thought it was an honor playing with this team. To be considered the best team so far in Johns Hopkins history is something more than I can ask for."
Wesley (13-0) will travel to face Mount Union (Ohio) in the tournament semifinals Saturday at noon. The Blue Jays, making their first appearance in the Division III playoffs, finished 10-3.
"You can't turn the ball over in this type of game," said McSweeny, who completed 10 of 17 passes for 167 yards and also gained 50 yards on 18 carries. "You've got to take those opportunities and score with them. That's what the great teams do, and that's what we did."
Wesley out-gained the Blue Jays 322-136 in total yardage, and held a commanding 40:07 to 19:53 margin in time of possession.
"We never really got on track offensively," Margraff said. "I was a little disappointed. As far as throwing and catching it we made some mental mistakes and ran some wrong routes. But Wesley has a great defense."
Johns Hopkins had been the Cinderella story of the tournament, knocking off previously undefeated Hampden-Sydney and Thomas More in the first two rounds.
"We ran into our third undefeated team in a row over the past three weeks and we lost to a great team in Wesley," Margraff said. "I thought our defense was spectacular. Offensively and on special teams we had a couple of letdowns, but our guys played extremely hard and I'm very proud of them."
Andrew Kase rushed for 53 yards on 13 carries and quarterback Hewitt Tomlin completed just nine of 26 passes for 86 yards for Johns Hopkins.