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Johns Hopkins football loses 28-21 to Mount Union in NCAA second round

In the first half of Saturday's football playoff, the Johns Hopkins pep band played "Johnny B. Goode." And he really was. For 30 minutes, Blue Jays quarterback Jonathan Germano shredded Mount Union's vaunted defense, passing for 217 yards and three touchdowns to give Hopkins a 21-7 lead over the defending national champion.

But Mount Union fought back, throttled Hopkins' attack in the second half and sacked Germano five times to defeat the Blue Jays, 28-21, in the second round of the NCAA Division III playoffs at Homewood Field. It's the sixth consecutive year that Hopkins (11-1) has been bounced early on from the tournament.

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"We dreamed of this game. We worked for it," senior receiver Brad Munday said. "We played lights-out in the first half. It's hard to be on the losing side."

Hopkins, the Centennial Conference champion, was ranked No. 6. Mount Union (Ohio), which has reached the D-III title game 11 straight years, was No. 8.

Munday caught 10 passes, six in the first half when Hopkins' no-huddle offense rattled Mount Union, who entered the game ranked No. 2 in the nation in scoring defense. Germano was the difference, shedding would-be tacklers and hitting on 16 of 21 passes and three touchdowns. Twice, he found Brett Caggiano in the end zone. Germano also connected with running back Ryan Cary for a 62-yard score after a dizzying scramble in the backfield.

"I'm always ready for him to find a way out of the pocket," said Cary, who caught the ball on the Purple Raiders' 45-yard line and scooted in. It was the longest completion of the year against Mount Union (11-1).

"We played incredibly well in the first half," Hopkins coach Jim Margraff said. "[Mount Union] tightened things up after halftime."

Hopkins managed just 36 yards in the third quarter as Mount Union wore down their blockers and swarmed Germano.

Trailing by a touchdown with 12 minutes left, the Blue Jays gambled big. On fourth-and-1 from his own 27, Germano looped a rainbow pass to Munday for a 22-yard gain and what he later called "an unbelievable catch." The play juiced the crowd of 1,145, but moments later, another fourth-down pass dropped out of the hands of a disconsolate Caggiano.

Twice more, Hopkins fought back. Starting from their 1-yard line with six minutes to go, the Blue Jays marched to near midfield before a drive-killing interception. With two minutes left, they went from their own 20 to the Mount Union 33, buoyed by another fourth-down conversion. But Germano was sacked on successive plays. The game ended on a pass-and-lateral that was fumbled away as time expired.

"We gave them everything we had," said Germano, who finished with 30 completions in 49 attempts for 355 yards. "We [seniors] had a great career; these are four years we'll never forget. We'll carry the things we learned here for the rest of our lives."

The game was bittersweet for Munday, who became Hopkins' all-time leading receiver. His 23-yard catch in the first quarter was the 261st of his career and kept alive the Blue Jays' second touchdown drive. The previous record of 260 was held by Dan Wodicka, who graduated in 2014.

"Obviously, it's an honor," Munday said of the mark. "But I'd much rather have come out of this one with a 'W.'"

Margraff, who'd sought his 201st victory in 27 years at Hopkins, called it "a terrific football game."

"I'm disappointed for these guys, but not disappointed in them," he said. "My biggest disappointment is that I don't get a chance to coach them next week."

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