Wesley's Last-Minute Touchdown Knocks Johns Hopkins Out of NCAA Playoffs, 29-24
Nov. 23, 2013
BALTIMORE, MD – Officially, 1,460 fans were in attendance at the NCAA Division III football playoff game between eighth-ranked Johns Hopkins and 14th-ranked Wesley at Homewood Field Saturday afternoon. None of those 1,460 can say they didn't get their money's worth as the Wolverines drove 82 yards in 31 seconds in the final minute to steal a 29-24 victory and move into the second round. The touchdown capped a game that saw big plays, huge swings in emotion and two touchdowns in the final 50 seconds.
Johns Hopkins (10-1) trailed 23-17 late in the game, but held the Wolverines on downs deep in their own end and forced a punt that set the Blue Jays up at their own 46 with just under two minutes remaining.
A 37-yard pass from senior quarterback Robbie Matey to senior wide receiver Dan Wodicka moved the Blue Jays to the Wolverine 15-yard line and the pair connected again from 10 yards out three plays later to give Hopkins a 24-23 lead with just 50 seconds on the clock.
The Wolverines (9-2) took over at their own 18 yard line and quickly went to work on the arm of quarterback Joe Callahan, who opened the drive with a 36-yard completion to junior wide receive Steve Koudossou. Callahan and Koudossou connected again for 13 more yards to give Wesley a first-and-10 at the Blue Jay 33, but a pair of incompletions made it third-and-10 with less than 20 seconds to play.
From there, the combination of Callahan and Koudossou gave the Wolverines the lead for good as Koudossou got inside on a post pattern and Callahan hit him between the numbers at the goal line for what proved to be the game-winning touchdown with just 12.8 seconds remaining.
In a game that neither team led by more than nine points, it was Wesley that struck first as the Wolverines took the opening kickoff and went 70 yards on 14 plays and capped their opening drive with a five-yard touchdown reception by Koudossou.
The Blue Jays immediately answered on their first possession as a one-yard touchdown run by senior JD Abbott polished off a 13-play, 75-yard drive that saw the Blue Jays convert twice on fourth down, including on fourth-and-goal from the one with Abbott's touchdown.
Wesley bookended a four-yard touchdown run by Johns Hopkins freshman Stuart Walters with a 26-yard field goal by Jon Storck and a 16-yard touchdown reception by Kyle George in the second quarter to grab a 17-14 halftime lead.
That lead would hold until the second play of the fourth quarter, when Koudossou got just enough separation on a corner route in the end zone to haul in the second of his three touchdowns – this one from 10 yards out – to give Wesley the only two-score lead of the day at 23-14. Storck's extra point was wide left.
Needing to make it a one-score game, the Blue Jays got good field position to start on the ensuing possession with a 25-yard kickoff return by freshman Adrian Trammell to the Hopkins 40. Mixing the run and the pass to perfection, the Blue Jays went 52 yards in 15 plays and pulled within 23-17 on a 25-yard field goal by freshman Nick Campbell with just over 10 minutes remaining on the clock.
Hopkins, as it did all day, kept that drive alive by converting three times on third down, including a 15-yard strike from Matey to freshman Bradley Munday on a third-and-13 and a 10-yard scramble by Matey on a third-and-eight.
If the excitement of the first 50 minutes hadn't kept the fans on the edge of their seats, the craziness of the final 10 surely did.
An interception by Wesley's Derrick Bender set the Wolverines up deep in JHU territory with just over eight minutes remaining, but the Blue Jay defense didn't allow a first down and Hopkins took over at its own 33. Five plays later the Blue Jay were forced to punt, setting the stage for a wild sequence.
With a chance to run some clock after taking over with just under six minutes left, the Wolverines couldn't manage a first down and were forced to punt from their own 19. A Ryan Gerlitz punt went off the side of his foot, got caught up in the wind and bounced back behind the line of scrimmage, where it was touched, but not controlled by a Johns Hopkins player. Still rolling back towards the end zone, it was kicked around and Gerlitz eventually fell on it at the one, where Wesley maintained possession as the ball had been touched by a Johns Hopkins player.
Wesley managed one first down, but eventually Gerlitz was forced into the punt that set Hopkins up at its 46, a drive the Blue Jays capped with the Matey touchdown pass to Wodicka, which only set the stage for the Callahan-to- Koudossou late-game heroics.
Callahan was 27-of-43 for 244 yards with the four touchdowns with Koudossou was on the back end of 11 of those completions for 132 yards and the three scores. The Wesley rushing attack, which entered the game averaging 145 yards per game, was held to just 67 yards, including just 12 in the second half.
Jordan Wescott and Luke Maginnis paced the Wesley defense with 10 tackles each and the Wolverines recovered a pair of fumbles, came up with the interception by Bender and had a pair of sacks in the victory.
Matey was 22-of-33 for 194 yards and also rushed for 60 yards, while Walters rushed for a game-high 97 yards and the one score. Munday had a team-high six receptions for 65 yards and Johns Hopkins held an advantage in total offense (382-311) and converted 12-of-21 third-down chances.
Sophomore Keith Corliss paced the Blue Jay defense with eight tackles, while Michael Longo, John Arena and Ryan Rice all chipped in with seven stops. Wesley converted just six of 17 third down chances and averaged just 2.0 yards per rushing attempt, but the combination of Callahan to Koudossou had the final big play in a game full of big plays and emotional swings.
Notes: Wodicka became JHU's career receptions leader with three catches today • He finishes his career with 260 receptions, two more than former record-holder Bill Stromberg (258 • 1978-81) • The loss today snapped Hopkins' school-record 11-game home winning streak • Wesley advances to the second round of the NCAA playoffs for the ninth straight year.
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