WASHINGTON, PA – Mauricio Garibay’s 46-yard field goal with 57 seconds remaining hit the cross bar and bounced over for what proved to be the winning points in a 31-28 victory for host Washington & Jefferson over visiting Johns Hopkins in the first round of the NCAA Division III Playoffs Saturday afternoon. The win propels the Presidents into the second round, where they will meet Frostburg St., which topped Wittenberg, 35-7, Saturday afternoon.
Johns Hopkins (9-2) trailed for most of the first three quarters, but had a 28-21 lead after back-to-back touchdowns in a span of less than 90 seconds early in the fourth quarter gave the Blue Jays their first lead of the game.
The Presidents (11-0) needed less than three minutes to force the third tie of the second half as they used seven plays to go 68 yards with Alex Rowse connecting with Jesse Zubik from 12 yards out to cap the drive.
Johns Hopkins appeared poised to retake the lead as they returned the ensuing kickoff to their own 40 and had first-and-10 at the Washington & Jefferson 18 just four plays later, but O’Shea Anderson got inside Luke McFadden down the middle and came up with an interception at the four-yard line to halt the scoring threat.
After the teams traded punts, the Presidents took over at their own 30 with 4:22 remaining and worked their way to the Blue Jay 29 with just over a minute remaining. After a Johns Hopkins timeout, Garibay hit a floater that hit the top of the cross bar and kicked over; the field goal is the fifth longest in W&J history.
The Blue Jays turned the ball over on downs on their ensuing possession and the Presidents took a knee on the final play to seal the victory.
Late-game heroics didn’t look like they’d be necessary for the Presidents early on as they led 14-3 at the end of the first quarter. Zubik capped W&J’s second drive of the game with a 12-yard touchdown reception that was answered by a 39-yard field goal by Johns Hopkins’ Jamie Sullivan to make it 7-3 less than six minutes into the game.
The four-point lead was 11 just over three minutes later the Presidents went 47 yards in 10 plays after recovering an onsides kick and Jordan West went in from two yards out to give W&J the 14-3 lead.
Johns Hopkins then used a 25-7 run over the next 39 minutes to turn the 11-point deficit into the 28-21 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Sullivan’s second field goal of the game, this one from 26 yards, early in second quarter accounted for 14-6 halftime score and the Blue Jays forced the first of three ties after turning a Michael Munday interception in the end zone into an 80-yard touchdown drive that sophomore David Tammaro capped with a two-yard touchdown run and a successful rush on the two-point attempt.
The back-and-forth second half was just getting started as the Blue Jays forced a quick W&J punt after Tammaro’s touchdown, but Sullivan was short on a 46-yard field goal attempt that would have given JHU a 17-14 lead late in the third quarter.
Taking over at the JHU 32 after the miss, W&J was in scoring position quickly as a 46-yard run by West helped move the ball to the Blue Jay nine-yard line and Rowse found Cody Hearst a step behind the defense one play later to give the Presidents a 21-14 lead with 12 seconds left in the third quarter.
That seven-point lead was a seven-point deficit just over three minutes later as senior Brett Caggiano caught a 12-yard touchdown pass from Tammaro to polish off a nine-play, 74-yard drive with 13:31 remaining in the fourth quarter to make it 21-21.
A diving interception by junior Michael Curry on W&J’s first offensive play after Caggiano’s touchdown set up a quick, five-play, 62-yard drive that junior Tyler Messinger ended with a 21-yard touchdown run to give the Blue Jays the 28-21 lead.
That set the stage for Zubik’s game-tying touchdown a short time later and Garibay’s game-winner in the final minute.
Rowse was 36-of-61 for 391 yards with three touchdowns and Zubik was one of three W&J receivers with more than 100 yards on the day as he had nine receptions for 114 yards and the two scores.
Tammaro was 23-of-50 for 236 yards with one touchdown pass and the one rushing touchdown. Caggiano had seven receptions for 83 yards and the one score and senior Ryan Cary added four receptions for a team-high 92 yards.
Dalton Day had a game-high 16 tackles for the Presidents and Tom Marr added seven, including four sacks.
Freshman Macauley Kilbane had a team-high 10 tackles for Johns Hopkins, while Curry had five tackles and two interceptions.
NOTES: Sullivan’s two field goals give him 17 for the year, which breaks the previous Johns Hopkins record of 16 set by Alex Lachman in 2009 • The Johns Hopkins seniors end their career with 42 wins, one shy of the school record for most by one class.
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