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In pivotal third quarter, Johns Hopkins puts Rowan away in Division III playoffs

The Johns Hopkins football team used 15 minutes to guarantee itself at least another 60 minutes in the 2014 season.

The No. 6 Blue Jays scored 10 points in a pivotal third quarter and shut out visiting Rowan over the same span to cement a 24-16 victory in an NCAA Division III first-round playoff game Saturday before an announced 739 at Homewood Field.

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Johns Hopkins (11-0) set a school record for wins in a single season and will meet No. 9 Hobart on Saturday at noon with the site of the game to be determined on Sunday. The Statesmen (11-0) defeated Ithaca, 22-15, in another first-round game on Saturday.

The Blue Jays advanced to the second round for the second time in three years by relying on an underrated passing attack and a stingy defense.

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Facing a Profs run defense that had surrendered just 77.5 yards per game (seventh-best in the country) and five rushing touchdowns, the offense gained a season-low 104 yards on the ground.

So the Blue Jays turned to senior quarterback Braden Anderson, who threw for 286 yards and three touchdowns, completing 27 of 36 passes.

"They're obviously a very strong run defense, and they shut us down early," said Anderson, who also was intercepted. "But it opened up other things, and we went to the pass and that helped open up the run later. We kind of took what they gave us."

Sophomore wide receiver Bradley Munday gained 77 yards on a team-high 11 catches. Two of Anderson's scores were caught by sophomore wide receiver Quinn Donaldson, who finished with seven receptions for 105 yards.

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Donaldson's second touchdown grab on an 8-yard comeback route capped a 10-play, 65-yard drive to open the third quarter that gave the Blue Jays an 11-point advantage.

"That was key," Johns Hopkins coach Jim Margraff said. "We were up 14-10 at the half, and there are a lot of coaching cliches about the first five minutes of the third quarter that tell you how the game is going to go. To take the opening kickoff and go down and score was tremendous though. I thought our guys came out very focused and were determined to finish."

The defense forced Rowan into four straight three-and-outs and surrendered just 104 yards and eight first downs in the second half.

"You can't do that against a really good football team," Profs coach Jay Accorsi said. "You have to be able to flip the field and be able to move the ball. Give them a lot of credit. Their defense flew around and stopped us. They came out right off the get-go and scored and just kind of held us in check. That put us behind the 8-ball."

Rowan (7-4) attempted to cut into the lead, driving to the Blue Jays' 2-yard line with four shots at the end zone late in the fourth quarter. But the Profs lost five yards on their first three plays, and on fourth down, junior quarterback Bill McCarty's fade pass to senior wide receiver Warren Oliver was knocked away by junior cornerback Charlie Kassis.

Rowan did score a touchdown on a McCarty-to-Oliver pass with 50.1 seconds left in regulation, but junior linebacker Keith Corliss blocked the extra-point try, and junior running back Brandon Cherry (Boys' Latin) fell on the Profs' onside kick to clinch the victory.

Rowan star running back Withler Marcelin gained 126 yards on 19 carries in the first two quarters, but was limited to 10 yards on eight attempts in the second half. Marcelin came into Saturday's game ninth in the nation with 1,311 yards rushing.

"He's a great running back," Blue Jays senior defensive tackle Michael Rocca said. "He's going to make plays, and he made some big ones in that second quarter. I think coming in at halftime, we said that we were going to have to bottle him up and start shutting him down. You saw that in the third quarter when we had 11 hats on the ball, and that's one thing we pride ourselves on as a defense."

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