BALTIMORE, MD – The Johns Hopkins football team entered Saturday's NCAA Quarterfinal game against RPI already riding a 10-game winning streak that had moved the Blue Jays to 11-1 on the year and given the JHU a program first – a home game in the quarterfinals. Sixty minutes after Saturday's game began, the Blue Jays had added two more historic firsts to the 2018 season – a 12th win and a trip to NCAA Semifinals.
Prior to this season, Johns Hopkins had never won more than 11 games in a season and had never advanced past the quarterfinals.
The Blue Jays checked both of those off the program bucket list with a methodical 37-14 victory over the Engineers that saw Hopkins jump to a 17-7 halftime lead and never trail. The win secures a date with top-ranked and unbeaten Mount Union in next Saturday's semifinals. The time and location of that game will be announced by Sunday afternoon.
Johns Hopkins sandwiched a pair of touchdown runs by senior Stuart Walters around a Keaton Ackermann 16-yard touchdown reception to grab a 14-7 lead just over 19 minutes into the game.
Walters capped Hopkins' first drive with a 52-yard touchdown run on third-and-two. He broke through the left side of the line and raced untouched into the end zone to give the Blue Jays the early 7-0 lead.
RPI answered on its next possession as the Engineers went 80 yards in eight plays with George Marinopoulos hitting Ackermann with a perfect fade pass to even the game at 7-7.
Johns Hopkins would take the lead for good early in the second quarter with a 14-play, 65-yard drive that saw the Blue Jays work their way out of a third-and-17 situation and then get Walters' three-yard run to go up 14-7.
RPI had a chance to get to halftime down just seven, but after taking over at their own 21 with just over two minutes remaining in the second quarter, the Engineers went three-and-out and Hopkins took over at the RPI 42 after a short punt. Five plays later, Mike Eberle's 31-yard field goal gave the Blue Jays the 10-point halftime lead.
The 10-point lead was 17 after one possession of the third quarter as the Blue Jays took the opening kickoff of the second half and went 78 yards on 13 plays and Hogan Irwin went over from two yards out to cap the drive. Irwin had converted a fourth-and-one from the Blue Jay 31 to keep the drive alive early and Walters set up Irwin's scoring run with a 19-yard scamper on third-and-one from the RPI 29.
A perfectly executed reverse late in the third quarter resulted in a 23-yard touchdown run by Ackermann that sliced the deficit to 24-14, but that would be as close as the Engineers would get.
Junior quarterback David Tammaro scored on a two-yard run late in the third quarter to push the lead back to 17 at 31-14 and Tammaro hit senior Luke McFadden from seven yards out midway through the fourth to close out the scoring and account for the 37-14 final score. RPI's final three drives of the game resulted in a missed field goal and two turnovers on downs.
Johns Hopkins totaled 521 yards on the day as Tammaro was 26-of-41 for 284 yards and one touchdown and he also rushed for 81 yards and another score. Walters rushed for a game-high 115 yards and the two touchdowns and Ryan Hubley (10-97-0), McFadden (6-81-1) and Walters (6-60-0) were Tammaro's favorite targets in the passing game.
Freshman Robert Fletcher again led the Blue Jays defensively as he totaled a career-high 17 tackles, including three for losses. Sophomore Ryan Weed added a career-high eight tackles and the Blue Jay defense totaled eight tackles for losses and three sacks in the victory.
Marinopoulos was 24-of-44 for 296 yards with the one touchdown to Ackermann, who was his favorite target with seven receptions for 147 yards and the one touchdown receiving; he also had the 23-yard touchdown run. Nick Cella, who entered the game averaging a team-high 75.6 rushing yards per game, was limited to just 12 yards on 13 carries.
Joey Gutowski had a team-high 11 tackles for RPI, but the Blue Jays converted 9-of-17 first downs and all five of their touchdown drives covered at least 64 yards as they used their balanced attack (237 rushing yards – 284 passing yards) to keep the Engineers off balance.
Notes: Johns Hopkins had previously won 11 games in a season three times (2014, 2015, 2016) before notching the school-record 12th today • The Johns Hopkins seniors tied the school record for most wins by one class with their 43rd (43-5) • This is the seventh time in school history that Johns Hopkins has won 11 games in a row • Walters' 115 rushing yards push his season total to 1,111 – he is the fifth player in school history to reach 1,000 in a season • Tammaro broke the school record for passing yards in a season (3,861) and tied the school record for touchdown passes (35) and completions (276) in a season
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