SELINSGROVE, PA - In a game of runs, it was visiting Johns Hopkins that had the decisive one as the Blue Jays scored the final 21 points of the game to fuel a 49-24 victory over host Susquehanna Saturday afternoon at Lopardo Stadium. The Blue Jays improve to 4-3 overall and 4-2 in the Centennial Conference, while the Crusaders fall to 1-7 overall and in the Centennial.
The Blue Jays led just 28-24 late in the third quarter before the combination of junior quarterback Hewitt Tomlin and classmate Sam Wernick took over.
Tomlin ignited the game-ending 21-0 run with a 74-yard touchdown pass to Wernick with 56 seconds remaining in the third quarter to push the lead out to 35-24. As it turned out, the pair was just getting started.
After the Blue Jays forced a quick Susquehanna punt, it took Tomlin and Wernick just two plays to hook up and extend the lead to 42-24 as Wernick got behind the defense and hauled in a 34-yard scoring strike on JHU's second play after the punt.
The Crusaders had two chances to slice into the deficit, but Mike Milano and D.J. Hartigan both came up with interceptions in the end zone to kill Susquehanna scoring threats midway through the fourth quarter and Tomlin and Wernick stuck the nail in the coffin four plays after Hartigan's INT.
After picking up a first down that moved the ball out to the JHU 32, Tomlin hit Wernick in stride on the sideline and Wernick raced untouched into the end zone to account for the final scoring with 6:29 remaining.
Wernick finished with seven receptions for a career-high 250 yards and a school and Centennial Conference-record-tying four TD receptions. He ties the JHU mark set by Bill Stromberg against Georgetown in 1980. Each of the four TD passes to Stromberg that day were thrown by current Johns Hopkins head coach Jim Margraff.
Tomlin was 16-of-28 for 384 yards and tied his career-high with four TD passes. He also rushed for JHU's opening touchdown of the game. His 384 yards are tied for the second-highest single-game total of his career.
The Blue Jays spotted the Crusaders an early 7-0 lead as Susquehanna put together a methodical 11-play, 75-yard drive that ate more than five minutes off the clock to open the game. Matt Lottes polished off the drive with a 23-yard touchdown pass to Matt Knouse to stake the Crusaders to the early seven-point lead.
The Blue Jays answered with touchdowns on their first four drives of the game, three of which came in a span of just 6:29 midway through the first quarter.
Hopkins needed just four plays to go 60 yards to answers Knouse's touchdown as Tomlin capped JHU's opening drive with a two-yard scoring run on a quarterback draw. The big play on the drive came on JHU's first play as Tomlin hit sophomore Jonathan Rigaud on a screen pass and Riguad weaved his way 53 yards to the Susquehanna seven yard line. Tomlin went in three plays later to tie the game.
The Blue Jay special teams set up JHU's next touchdown as junior Tyler Brown partially blocked a punt that rolled dead at the Susquehanna 28. Rigaud took over from there as he swept around left end on first down and raced to the end zone to give the Blue Jays a 14-7 lead. JHU's first two touchdowns came less than three minutes apart.
The third of JHU's three first-quarter touchdowns came with just over two minutes remaining in the opening quarter. After forcing a Susquehanna punt, the Blue Jays drove 85 yards on nine plays and capped the drive with a 35-yard touchdown pass from Tomlin to Wernick. Tomlin hit Wernick in stride cutting across the middle of the field at the 15-yard line and Wernick out-raced the defense to the end zone to jump-start his record-breaking day.
The teams traded scores in the second quarter to make it 28-14 at the half. A two-yard run by Nick Fazio came on the final play of a six-play, 70-yard drive that gave JHU a 28-7 lead, but the Crusaders hopped back in the game with an impressive scoring drive in the final minutes.
After recovering a Blue Jay fumble at the Susquehanna 40-yard line, the Crusaders needed just seven plays and 1:25 to go 60 yards with Knouse's 28-yard touchdown reception polishing off the first-half scoring with 1:06 left before halftime.
Susquehanna punched up the first 10 points of the second half as a 26-yard field goal by Bobby Eppleman and an eight-yard scoring run by Lottes trimmed what was once a 21-point deficit to four at 28-24 with just under two minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Wernick hauled in the 74-yard touchdown reception from Tomlin 57 seconds later to ignite the game-ending run. None of JHU's final three touchdown drives lasted longer than 82 seconds.
JHU rolled up a season-high 543 yards of total offense, the third-highest total in the Margraff era and the most since punching up 651 yards against Georgetown in 1991. In addition to his 250 receiving yards, Wernick also totaled 91 yards on four kickoff returns to amass a career-high 341 all-purpose yards – the third-highest single-game total in school history.
Lottes was 28-of-45 for 347 yards with the two touchdown passes and one scoring run. Mike Ritter had a game-high nine receptions for 133 yards and Krouse's seven catches went for 99 yards and the two scores.
Johns Hopkins returns to action next Saturday when the Blue Jays host Juniata at 1 pm.
- 30 -