Nov. 11, 2012
BALTIMORE, MD –- The 16th-ranked, Centennial Conference Champion and 9-1 Johns Hopkins football team will host Washington & Jefferson in the first round of the 2012 NCAA Division III Football Playoffs it was announced Sunday evening. This will be the first-ever meeting between Johns Hopkins and Washington & Jefferson and the teams shared no common opponents during the 2012 regular season. The game is scheduled for noon on Saturday, November 17 at Homewood Field and ticket information will be announced on Monday, November 12.
Johns Hopkins earned the Centennial Conference’s automatic bid to the playoffs, while Washington & Jefferson earned the automatic bid from the Presidents’ Athletic Conference (PAC). The winner of the Johns Hopkins-Washington & Jefferson game will play the winner of the Mount Union-Christopher Newport game in the second round on Saturday, November 24. The location of that game will be announced on Sunday, November 18.
Johns Hopkins (9-1) is making its fourth appearance in the NCAA Playoffs and its third in the last four years. The Blue Jays capped the best season in school history in 2009 with a run to the NCAA Quarterfinals and made a return trip last season after posting a 10-0 record in the regular season that earned the Blue Jays the first NCAA home playoff game in school history. The Blue Jays made their first appearance in the NCAAs in 2005. Washington & Jefferson (8-2) is making its 22nd playoff appearance and first since 2009.
Johns Hopkins won its fourth straight and eighth overall Centennial Conference championship this season. The outright title this season is the third in four years (JHU shared the 2010 title) and the fourth overall in school history. The Blue Jays enter the playoffs with a balanced team that has been effective on both sides of the ball. Johns Hopkins is currently averaging 38.6 points and 495.0 yards per game, while the Blue Jay defense has been equally strong as they have allowed just 14.9 points and 272.4 yards per game.
Senior running back Jonathan Rigaud leads the way offensively for the Blue Jays as he has rushed for 1,262 yards and 20 touchdowns to fuel a running game that has accounted for 41 of the team’s 55 touchdowns on the year. Junior quarterback Robbie Matey is completing a Centennial-high 70% of his passing attempts and has thrown for 1,999 yards and 10 touchdowns. His favorite target is junior Dan Wodicka, who counts 76 receptions for 728 yards to his credit.
A talented trio of linebackers leads the way defensively for the Blue Jays. Senior Taylor Maciow counts 78 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and 4.0 sacks to his credit, while classmate Adam Schweyer ranks second on the team in tackles (59) and counts 8.0 tackles for loss, 3.0 sacks and two interceptions on the year. Junior John Arena is the third Blue Jay linebacker with more than 50 tackles on the year (53) and he had 5.5 tackles for loss as well.
The Blue Jay defense has produced 33 sacks in 10 games with 14 different players earning credit on at least one of those. Junior Andy Laychur leads the way with 6.5 of his 24 tackles on the year counting as sacks.
Like Johns Hopkins, the Presidents feature a balanced offensive attack and a stingy defense. W&J is riding the crest of a four-game winning streak into the NCAA Playoffs that culminated with a 31-14 win over previously unbeaten Waynesburg in what amounted to the PAC Championship game in the final game of the regular season.
Junior quarterback Mike Bliss directs the offense for W&J and has thrown for 1,957 yards and 13 touchdowns while completing 61.2% of his attempts. His top target is Alex Baroffio, who counts 74 receptions for 650 yards and five touchdowns to his credit. Hunter Creel (42-556-5) and Dan Lucas (35-402-3) are also capable targets for Bliss, who has also rushed for 227 yards and six touchdowns this season.
Defensively, it starts with pressure for the Presidents as linebackers Ian Hennessy and John Hunter have made a living in the opposition’s backfield. Both have 82 tackles and the duo has combined for 22.0 tackles for losses and 6.0 sacks. The Presidents have accumulated 66 tackles for losses, 21 sacks and 10 interceptions on the year. The unit has held the opposition to an average of 328 yards and less than 20 points per game.
Washington & Jefferson won its 23rd PAC Championship with the win against Waynesburg and the 22 NCAA appearances rank as the second-highest total in Division III history. The Presidents’ 21 all-time playoff wins are tied for the seventh-most in Division III history and W&J finished as the national runner-up in 1992 and 1994.
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