BALTIMORE, MD – The 20th-ranked Johns Hopkins football team will enter next week’s regular-season finale at rival McDaniel with its NCAA Playoff destiny in its own control as the Blue Jays rolled past visiting Juniata, 57-14, at Homewood Field Saturday afternoon. The Blue Jays improved to 8-1 overall and 7-1 in the Centennial Conference with the victory, while the Eagles slipped to 3-6 overall and 2-6 in the Centennial.
Johns Hopkins is in a first-place tie with Franklin & Marshall entering the final game of the regular season. With a win at McDaniel the Blue Jays would take the Centennial Conference’s automatic bid to the playoffs by virtue of the 45-7 win over the Diplomats on October 7.
Johns Hopkins made sure it would have its destiny in its own hands next week by using big plays and an opportunistic defense to top the Eagles for the 11th consecutive season.
Hopkins got a 35-yard touchdown pass from David Tammaro to Luke McFadden before the game was three minutes old and added an 83-yard touchdown run from senior Ryan Cary and a 59-yard touchdown pass from Tammaro to senior Brett Caggiano to fuel a 30-point first half for the Blue Jays.
Those three combined scoring drives covered a total of 182 yards and needed just eight plays and less than three minutes of possession time for Johns Hopkins, which rolled up 360 yards of total offense before halftime.
While the offense was generating explosive plays, the defense was busy forcing four first-half turnovers that led to 14 first-half points for Johns Hopkins.
Senior Michael Munday ended two first-half Juniata drives himself with an interception in the red zone and a forced fumble. Juniata did generate 192 yards in the first half, but the four turnovers, a 1-of-8 showing on third down and Hopkins’ explosive plays on offense led to a 30-0 Blue Jay lead at the half.
A back-and-forth third quarter saw the teams combine for five touchdowns and more than 350 yards of offense as JHU pushed its 30-0 halftime lead to 51-14 at the end of three quarters.
McFadden ended the day for the entire Johns Hopkins starting offense just 38 seconds into the second half as he capped a three-play, 46-yard drive with a 25-yard touchdown reception.
From there, Justin Helsel and Jake Notestine sandwiched touchdown receptions for Juniata around a one-yard scoring run by Hopkins’ Hogan Irwin to make it 44-14 with just over two minutes remaining in the third period. An 11-yard touchdown run by junior Tyler Messinger less than a minute later gave Hopkins its 51-14 lead.
After seven of Hopkins’ first eight scoring drives took less than 2:30 off the clock, the Blue Jays went the methodical route in the fourth quarter to close out the scoring as a 16-play, 77-yard drive that ate just over eight minutes off the clock was polished off by a 12-yard touchdown run by senior Chris Martin.
Tammaro was 18-of-27 for 264 yards with four touchdowns in one half and one series of action. Caggiano had three receptions for 101 yards and the one score and two of McFadden’s three catches went for touchdowns.
Cary rushed for a season-high 102 yards on just six carries. His 83-yard touchdown run in the first half was the longest run of his career and the second-longest in Johns Hopkins history; he added two receptions for 16 yards with one of those receptions going for 12 yards and a touchdown late in the first quarter.
Austin Montgomery was 24-of-32 for 297 yards with two touchdowns, but he threw a pair of interceptions, lost a fumble and was sacked four times. Montgomery’s favorite target was Helsel, who had eight receptions for 152 yards and the one score.
The opportunistic Blue Jay defense was led by junior Ian Lodge’s seven tackles. Munday and Grant Mosser had Hopkins’ two interceptions and James Closser, Mike Kalanik and Nick Marinelli all recovered fumbles.
Notes: A win next week would give Hopkins at least a share of its ninth consecutive Centennial Conference title • JHU is 19-1 in its last 20 home games in the month of November dating back to 2001 – the Blue Jays haven’t lost a home game in November in 10 years • Hopkins’ 627-yard effort marked its third game with 600+ yards this season – this is the first time in school history that JHU has posted more than 600 yards three times in one season • Johns Hopkins honored its 17 seniors in a pregame ceremony – the seniors never lost a regular season home game (20-0).