November 9, 2013

JHU Tops F&M, 45-30, Clinches NCAA Berth With 500th All-Time Victory

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Nov. 9, 2013

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BALTIMORE, MD - In a game that featured 75 points and nearly 900 yards of total offense and ultimately became the 500th all-time victory in Johns Hopkins football history, there's was just one number that mattered to the Blue Jays; one! As in, the Blue Jays secured one of the automatic bids to the upcoming NCAA Playoffs with the 45-30 victory over visiting Franklin & Marshall at Homewood Field Saturday afternoon.

The eighth-ranked Blue Jays improve to 9-0 overall and 8-0 in the Centennial Conference and will represent the league in the NCAAs for the third straight year and the fifth time since 2005. In addition, Johns Hopkins improves its all-time record to 500-476-58 with the victory, which, in a game full of interesting numbers, came in Jim Margraff's250th game as the head coach at JHU.

Not that the victory came easy for the Blue Jays, who led 7-0 early, trailed 20-14 midway through the second quarter and then used a 17-0 run to take the lead for good.

The Diplomats (5-4, 5-3 CC) trailed 14-6 late in the second quarter after the first of JD Abbott'stwo touchdown runs for Johns Hopkins, but quarterback E.J. Schneider fired a pair of touchdown passes to Jordan Zackery to give F&M a 20-14 lead early in the second quarter.

The Blue Jays cut the six-point deficit in half on a 31-yard field goal by freshman Nick Campbellmidway through the period and the Diplomats moved from their own 24 to the JHU 49 late in the half before a game-turning play gave the Blue Jays the lead for good.

On second-and-two from the Blue Jay 49, Schneider was flushed from the pocket and tried to hit senior Tim Muller on the outside. Johns Hopkins senior John Arenastepped right in front of Muller at the Blue Jay 46-yard line and raced 54 yards untouched down the sideline to give the Blue Jays the lead for good, 24-20, with just 79 seconds remaining before the half.

The late first-half score gave the Blue Jays the momentum and Hopkins needed just 76 seconds of the third quarter to extend the lead to 11. After a 50-yard kickoff return by freshman Bradley Munday set the Blue Jays up at the F&M 40, senior Robbie Matey sandwiched completions of eight and six yards to Jonathan Monteiro around rushes of 17 and seven yards by sophomore Brandon Cherry, who then capped the five-play, 40-yard drive with a two-yard run to make it 31-20.

The Diplomats answered just over seven minutes later when senior Frank Strumolo weaved his way to a highlight-reel 35-yard touchdown run to pull F&M within four at 31-27. Schneider had a hand in the first 36 yards on the drive before Strumolo covered the final 44 on just two carries.

The four-point lead swelled to 18 in a span of just over five minutes of game time late in the third quarter and early in the fourth. Cherry polisedh off a nine-play, 56-yard drive with his third touchdown run of the game with 3:15 remaining in the third quarter and Abbott added his second scoring run early in the fourth as the Blue Jays went 72 yards in just four plays to grab a 45-27 lead. Matey's 41-yard pass to Munday set the Blue Jays up at the F&M four-yard line and Abbott went in one play later.

A Connor Ryan 26-yard field goal sliced the deficit to 45-30 and F&M recovered the ensuing onsides kick, but the Blue Jay defense stopped the Diplomats on downs and the Blue Jays were able to take more than four minutes off the clock to seal the victory.

Cherry, who rushed for a game-high 163 yards, opened the scoring with a career-long 76-yard touchdown run on JHU's first offensive play of the game, only to have F&M answer four minutes later with the first of Strumolo's two touchdown runs on the day. Abbott's first touchdown of the game a short time later was answered quickly by Zackery's two touchdown receptions to account for the 20-14 lead, which Hopkins answered with the 17-0 run that was highlighted by Arena's interception return.

Johns Hopkins, which is 9-0 for the second time in three years, rolled up 461 yards, including 294 and five touchdowns on the ground. Cherry's 163 yards are the second-highest total of his career and the 100-yard game was his fourth straight. Junior Hani Annabiled the Blue Jay defense with a career-high 13 tackles, including one sack.

Schneider was 16-of-29 for 207 yards and the two touchdowns and also rushed for 99 yards. Strumolo rushed for 133 yards and the two scores and two of Zackery's four receptions went for the two second-quarter touchdowns.

Johns Hopkins will close the regular season next Saturday, (November 16) at McDaniel. The Diplomats will host Gettsyburg in their final regular season game.

Notes: Johns Hopkins honored its 20 seniors prior to the game; the class has helped JHU to a 37-6 record, four Centennial Conference titles and three trips to the NCAA Playoffs (including this season) • The Johns Hopkins senior class won its final 18 regular season games at Homewood Field ... they lost their first-ever regular season game at home in 2010 and then won the final 18 • Since the start of the 2001 season, Johns Hopkins has played exactly 70 games at home and 70 games on the road - the Blue Jays are 53-17 at home and 53-17 on the road in that time • Cherry's 76-yard touchdown run was the fourth-longest run in school history, while Arena's 54-yard interception return for a score was the fourth-longest INT return for a touchdown in JHU history • JHU tied a school record with its ninth straight game with 400+ yards of total offense • The bracket for the 2013 NCAA Division III Football Playoffs will be announced at 6 pm on Sunday, November 17.

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