November 2, 2013

Wodicka's Fourth Quarter TDs Lift Hopkins Past Ursinus, 24-18

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Nov. 2, 2013

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BALTIMORE, MD - Down by eight entering the fourth quarter, the 12th-ranked Johns Hopkins football team got a pair of touchdowns from senior wide receiver Dan Wodicka as the Blue Jays rallied past Ursinus, 24-18, at Homewood Field Saturday afternoon. The win improves the Blue Jays' record to 8-0 overall and 7-0 in the Centennial Conference and secures at least a share of the conference title for the fifth straight year for Johns Hopkins.

Johns Hopkins can clinch the outright title and the league's automatic berth in the upcoming NCAA Playoffs with a win next week against Franklin & Marshall.

The Bears outscored the Blue Jays 10-0 in the third quarter to a turn a 10-8 halftime deficit into the 18-10 lead that they would carry into the final quarter. A 76-yard touchdown reception by Jerry Rahill and a 36-yard field by Eric Boyer accounted for the 10-point surge for the Bears.

After the teams traded punts after Boyer's field goal, the Blue Jays took over at their own 10-yard line late in the third quarter. Mixing the running of sophomore Brandon Cherry and freshman Stuart Walters and the passing of senior Robbie Matey, the Blue Jays went 90 yards in 15 plays and Matey found Wodicka open down the middle from eight yards out to pull the Blue Jays within two - the two-point attempt failed and the Bears held an 18-16 lead less than two minutes into the fourth quarter.

The Blue Jays forced a three-and-out on Ursinus' ensuing possession and quickly moved inside the Ursinus 10, but a fumble at the five-yard line ended that threat and the Bears took over deep in their own territory.

Two plays later, junior Chris Ibrahim intercepted a Kevin Monahan pass across the middle to give the Blue Jays possession at the UC 33. Four tough runs by Cherry set the Blue Jays up at the 21 and Matey hit Wodicka in stride down the middle two plays later to give the Blue Jays a 22-18 lead. Matey scampered in on the two-point attempt to make it 24-18 with 6:30 remaining.

Ursinus had three possessions down the stretch, but a three-and-out ended the first, a Ryan Rice interception ended the second and Monahan misfired to Rahill on third an fourth-and-one from the Johns Hopkins 45 with less than a minute to play to seal the victory for the Blue Jays.

In a game where neither team was able to distance itself from the other, the Blue Jays took an early 3-0 lead on a 32-yard field goal by freshman Nick Campbell midway through the first quarter.

The Bears (6-2, 5-2 CC) needed just over two minutes to strike back as Rahill got behind the defense and made an acrobatic catch that he turned into a 69-yard touchdown reception to give the Bears a 6-3 lead; Boyer was wide left on the extra point.

The three-point lead swelled to five on the ensuing kickoff as JHU failed to handle the kickoff and freshman Bradley Munday was tackled in the end zone for a safety to make it 8-3 with just over four minutes remaining in the first quarter.

The five-point lead held until the middle of the second quarter, when the Blue Jays put together the first of two scoring drives that covered 90+ yards. Taking over at their own two-yard line after a Boyer punt, the Blue Jays worked their way out of trouble by riding the efforts of Cherry, Walters and JD Abbott and only once on a 14-play, 98-yard drive were the Blue Jays faced with a third down. Walters (25), Abbott (21) and Cherry (16) combined for 62 yards on the 98-yard drive, which Abbott capped with a three-yard run to give JHU a 10-8 lead it would carry into halftime.

Ursinus struck first in the second half when Monahan hit Rahill in stride down the middle of the field with the 76-yard touchdown pass. When Boyer connected from 36 yards out on Ursinus' next possession, the Bears had their eight-point lead and the Blue Jays were faced with their biggest deficit of the season. That set the stage for the Blue Jays' fourth-quarter rally, which wasn't secure until the Blue Jay defense came up with its final stand of the game in the last minute.

Johns Hopkins held a 429-323 advantage in total offense as the Blue Jays ran 92 plays to just 65 for the Bears and controlled the ball for nearly 35 minutes (34:56).

Cherry led a Johns Hopkins ground game that rolled up 242 yards as he posted his third consecutive 100-yard rushing game with 122 yards on the day. Walters added 66 yards on just nine carries and Abbott chipped in with 33 yards and the one touchdown on eight carries.

Matey was 20-of-33 for 184 yards with the two fourth quarter touchdown passes to Wodicka, who had five receptions for 65 yards. Munday had a career-high eight receptions for 54 yards.

Save for the two long touchdown catches by Rahill, the Blue Jay defense held the Bears to 178 yards on its other 63 plays. Ursinus entered the game ranked seventh in the nation in third-down percentage, but managed to convert just 4-of-15 and never got a rushing game going as the Bears totaled just 43 yards on 25 rushes.

Rahill, who entered the game as the Centennial's leading receiver, had eight receptions for 202 yards and the two touchdowns, while Monahan was 16-of-40 for 280 yards with the two touchdowns and two fourth-quarter interceptions.

Notes: Wodicka's final catch of the game - the 16-yard touchdown reception - pushed him past 3,000 career receiving yards (3,008)
• Cherry's 122 yards pushed him past 1,000 for his career (1,021)
• JHU is 8-0 for the third consecutive year and is one win shy of all-time victory number 500 (499-476-58).

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