Nov. 15, 2009
BALTIMORE, MD -- The Centennial Conference Champion Johns Hopkins football team will face undefeated Hampden-Sydney in the first round of the 2009 NCAA Division III Football Playoffs it was announced Sunday afternoon. This will be the Blue Jays' (8-2) second appearance in the NCAA Playoffs and this will be the 22nd meeting between Johns Hopkins and Hampden-Sydney. The Tigers (10-0) are making their third appearance in the NCAA Playoffs and will host the Blue Jays on Saturday, November 21 at noon.
While a majority of the games in the all-time series between the Blue Jays and Tigers took place more than 30 years ago, the teams did play a four-game series from 2004-07. Johns Hopkins won three of those four games, including one of two at Hampden-Sydney. The Blue Jays pulled out a 17-16 victory in the last meeting between the two teams on September 1, 2007. In that game, Johns Hopkins senior Patrick Kay blocked a potential game-winning field goal on the final play of the game to seal the win for the Blue Jays.
Johns Hopkins earned its second outright Centennial Conference Championship this season, a championship the Blue Jays sealed with a 38-14 win at McDaniel in the regular-season finale. The Centennial title is the fifth straight for the Blue Jays, who earned at least a share of the title every year from 2002 through 2005. This will be JHU's sixth post-season appearance in the last eight years as the Blue Jays also played in ECAC Championship games in 2002, 2003, 2004 and 2008.
Johns Hopkins has won three straight and eight of its last nine entering the playoffs. The Blue Jays boast a balanced offense and a stingy, opportunistic defense. Johns Hopkins is averaging 33.4 points and 394.6 yards per game on offense and is allowing just 16.6 points and 265.7 yards per game on defense. In addition, the Blue Jay defense has forced 30 turnovers and registered 33 sacks in 10 games and has held their last five opponents to 16 points or less.
Johns Hopkins' balanced offense is led by senior running back Andrew Kase and a host of underclassmen who are due to return next season. Kase is averaging a Centennial Conference-best 127.1 yards per game on the ground and has scored a school-record 20 touchdowns on the year. He holds virtually every Johns Hopkins rushing and scoring record and has rushed for 100 or more yards 23 times in his career.
While the exploits of Kase have been well documented, the Blue Jay offense has also demonstrated a knack for moving the ball through the air as sophomore quarterback Hewitt Tomlin has thrown for 2,086 yards and 15 touchdowns. He is just the second quarterback in school history to throw for 2,000 or more yards in a season and tied the JHU single-season record with seven 200-yard passing games this year.
A trio of talented receivers - all of which are due to return next season - give Tomlin and the Blue Jays an array of weapons in the passing game. Junior Dan Crowley leads the team with 48 receptions for 668 yards and four touchdowns, while sophomore Sam Wernick counts 40 receptions for 339 yards and one score to his credit. Junior Tucker Michels is just behind Wernick on the receiving charts as he has 37 receptions for 573 yards and four touchdowns.
The most experienced unit on the team is the offensive line, which counts seniors Mike Stoffel, Tim Miller and Anthony Catanzano among the starting five. Junior Ryan Lino and sophomore Ed Rodger join the senior trio in the starting lineup. The unit has allowed just four sacks in 304 passing attempts this season.
Defensively, the Blue Jays have forced at least two turnovers in 11 straight games dating back to last season and are led by an experienced front line and a talented sophomore class. Seniors Colin Wixted (SS) and Glenn Rocca (DE) are the leaders of the defense as they have combined for 100 tackles, 17 tackles for losses and 8.5 sacks. Wixted counts 52 tackles and 8.0 tackles for loss to his credit, while Rocca leads all JHU defensive linemen with 48 tackles and has team-bests of 9.0 tackles for losses and 5.5 sacks on the year.
The top three tacklers and four of the top six are all members of the Blue Jay sophomore class. Sophomore safety Mike Milano leads the team with 62 tackles and ranks second on the team with three interceptions on the year. Classmates Tyler Brown and Ryan Piatek, both linebackers, rank second and third, respectively, on the team in tackles. Brown has 61 tackles and 3.5 sacks to his credit, while Piatek has 58 tackles and 7.5 tackles for loss on the year.
Junior place-kicker Alex Lachman has been a steady force for the Blue Jays throughout his career and this season has been no different. He is 39-of-42 on extra points and 12-of-16 on field goals this year. He became just the third player in Centennial Conference history with 30 career field goals to his credit when he nailed a 21-yard attempt in the regular season finale at McDaniel.
The Tigers feature a high-powered offense that is averaging 37.7 points this season. Senior quarterback Corey Sedlar has thrown for 3,012 yards and 30 touchdowns against 15 interceptions. The Tigers count eight different players with 23 or more receptions on the year and quick starts have been the norm for HSC as the Tigers have outscored the opposition 119-27 in the first quarter this season.
Defensively, the Tigers are allowing just 17.0 points and 302.8 yards per game. HSC has forced 27 turnovers on the year and has registered 31 sacks as well. Junior linebacker Trevor Ikwild leads the team in tackles (83) and counts eight pass breakups to his credit as well.
Johns Hopkins and Hampden-Sydney had two common opponents this season in Gettysburg and Randolph Macon. The Blue Jays defeated Gettysburg (41-23) and Randolph-Macon (35-31) on back-to-back weekends in September, while the Tigers also hold wins over the Bullets (46-43 in OT) and Yellow Jackets (34-27) as well.
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