Dan Johnson’s 23-yard interception return for a touchdown with 23 seconds left in the third quarter of No. 11 Johns Hopkins’ 45-24 win against Centennial Conference foe Franklin & Marshall on Saturday was the defense’s first takeaway for a score in almost two years.
On Nov. 16, 2013, then-freshman Jack Toner returned an interception 36 yards for a touchdown in a 52-21 demolition of McDaniel. On Saturday, the Blue Jays (9-0 overall, 8-0 Centennial Conference) were the beneficiaries of Johnson’s heady play to leap and throw his hands up as he was blitzing off the right edge of the defense toward Diplomats senior quarterback Matt Magarity.
“I’m not going to say it was easy, but I was surprised that it was right there,” the 5-foot-10, 180-pound Westminster graduate said. “I was hoping just to maybe get a hand on it, but I was able to get to it and take it with nobody in my way to the end zone.”
Johnson’s touchdown, which inflated Johns Hopkins’ advantage to 42-17, occurred two quarters after an unusual turn of events on a Franklin & Marshall punt. Junior Cody Hubbs lined a punt down the right hash marks that hit Johnson’s right heel as he was attempting to run down the field and make a block for junior Bradley Munday.
The Diplomats (6-3, 5-3) recovered the ball and ended the drive with a 25-yard field goal. Johnson said that the special-teams gaffe weighed on him.
“I didn’t do anything on that play that was bad,” he said. “There was nothing I could have done about it. It was just a fluke play, but obviously, I was still mad about it. So being able to make [a] play, I was just happy it happened.”
Coach Jim Margraff said he was pleased to see Johnson make a play that more people will remember.
“He’s a terrific player and a great special teams player,” he said. “That was just unlucky. What he did in the end was skill. So that was great.”