/playoffs/2018/hopkins-hot-seat-historic-against-mount-union

Hopkins' hot seat is historic against Mount Union

More news about: Johns Hopkins
Luke McFadden running in the open field for Johns Hopkins. (Johns Hopkins athletics photo)
Luke McFadden is one of Johns Hopkins' deep threats, with 17.3 yards per catch and nine touchdowns.
Johns Hopkins athletics photo
 

By Ryan Tipps
D3sports.com

In any given year, Mount Union barely appears mortal. In the lifetime of current players, the Purple Raiders have lost just over a dozen games total, and only a handful before the Stagg Bowl. Their deep runs have become the stuff of Division III legend.

“There’s an aura around a place that’s made history like Mount Union has and their frequent appearances in the finals,” said Johns Hopkins senior defensive lineman Anthony Davidson. “But all of that, while impressive, doesn’t define anyone’s opportunity going into Saturday.”

Like any week, players enter game day with the mindset that they can win -- that they will win. For someone such as Davidson and his Blue Jay teammates, it’s not a stretch into disbelief. Two seasons ago, in a chilly second-round game in Baltimore, Hopkins came closer than most to dismantling The Machine.

Hopkins led by as many as 14 points in that matchup before the Purple Raiders put together a 21-point streak to ultimately win by seven. It was heartbreaking and frustrating for Johns Hopkins.

But that fact is that this school, known more for its academic success than its gridiron success, played nearly pound for pound with the nation’s elite.

“We played well and hung with them,” said wide receiver Luke McFadden. The hope is, of course, to do that and more this coming Saturday in Alliance, Ohio.

The rosters for both teams have been almost completely overhauled since that 2016 meeting, making Davidson’s and McFadden’s status of having already lined up against Mount all that more unique. Still, the 2018 Blue Jays, who have made it deeper into the postseason than any team in the school’s history, have every reason to be energized.

“The way we’ve been playing, I have so much confidence in this team,” said McFadden, a senior and team captain this year. “But playing Mount tight a couple of years ago, that’s even more encouragement.”

Behind the strong arm and collected decision-making of Hopkins quarterback David Tammaro, the team leads the nation in total offense, averaging 564 yards per game. Its defense, too, has elevated itself by holding opponents to barely 300 yards a game, notable in a Centennial Conference that was particularly tough top to bottom this fall.

The impact of the Centennial’s growing strength this year knocked Hopkins over early in the season with a 37-35 conference-opening loss to Susquehanna. The game forced a re-examination of the team -- the accountability, the internal competition. Not since 2010 has a JHU team lost more than one regular season game -- the big question in the aftermath of Susquehanna was how would this team come to define itself?

“Everyone realized, from that point forward, every game was a must-win,” Davidson said. The mentality that came out of that room turned what could have been one of the worst seasons in recent years into the best in school history (with room yet to grow).

Anthony Davidson, JHU defensive lineman (Johns Hopkins athletics photo)
Defensive lineman Anthony Davidson has two and a half tackles for loss and a forced fumble over his past two games.
Johns Hopkins athletics photo
 

“The first two games, we gave up a fair amount of points on defense, but Mickey [defensive coordinator Mickey Rehring] did a great job with some adjustments on how we’re approaching games. We made some personnel adjustments, and we were starting some really young guys,” said coach Jim Margraff, referencing the three freshman starters on defense.

That Susquehanna game didn’t bog down JHU. During 2018, Hopkins beat two playoff teams in the regular season and has matched up well against its first three postseason opponents to land in the national semifinals. This run is historic because, of JHU’s eight NCAA postseason visits, the Blue Jays have never made it this far. Their best prior to 2018 was to the quarterfinals in 2009.

As expected when the brackets were announced, any realistic Stagg Bowl chance for a team on the right-hand side of the bracket would mean getting through No. 1-ranked Mount Union.

And No. 1 is No. 1 for a reason. No team on Hopkins’ schedule is comparable to Mount. Purple Raiders opponents are forced into playing their absolute best game, being fundamentally sound in all positions, and even then, having a little luck doesn’t hurt.

“There are two things: There’s winning football and there’s good football, and sometimes when we’ve won, it hasn’t been great football. But that’s what you’re always searching for, and what better opportunity than playing the No. 1 team in the country,” said Margraff, whose team lost a 2012 game against Mount in addition to the 2016 one.

Mount has great players in skill positions, and their success on the field stems from the ability to exploit weaknesses, fatigue and mistakes better than anyone else.

“We’ve played against some great teams in the past -- against Mount Union twice, against Wesley several times, some fantastic teams and great games,” the coach said. “When I look back 20 years ago and if you would have told me that we’d one day be playing and winning against teams like Washington and Jefferson and Rowan, that seemed like such a long way off. So, it’s great that we’re competing at that level right now.”

But, of course, the need to step up one’s game goes both ways. It’s unlikely this season that Mount has played anyone as complete as this Johns Hopkins squad. The Centennial team that Mount faced last week, Muhlenberg, held its ground for much of the game, and the one team that really pushed Mount this season got blown out in Round 1 of the playoffs.

Hopkins players believe the team’s recent history with the Purple Raiders paves a trail of confidence going into Saturday, giving them the ability to perhaps turn a Mount into a molehill.

“It can certainly be said that that game against them here at our place in 2016 was a significant stepping stone for our program,” Davidson said. “For the longest time, we were always stuck in the first or second round of the playoffs, and we never seemed like we were exposed to the teams in the Top 5, because we’d always run into someone who’d beat us before we got to that point.

“But after we played that game, we took a look around the room and said, ‘There’s absolutely no reason that we can’t compete at this level.’ ”

This is a JHU team that has depth and a multitude of weapons on offense, the kind that should keep Mount defenders on their toes. McFadden, who missed four games because of a broken finger, has that motivating him to extend the season and make up for lost time. He has 675 yards this year, and fellow receiver Ryan Hubley has 886. On the ground, Stuart Walters has topped 1,000 yards, while Tyler Messinger follows with 628. To defend against Hopkins, it’s a pick-your-poison scenario: Stack the box, and the Jays will pick you apart downfield; play on your heels, and they’ll get you in the gut.

Despite the physical and mental toll a football season takes on a player, this is a Hopkins team with more than one more week still in them -- whether they get that depends on Saturday’s performance.

“We’re already in the mind-set that we are going out to win it,” McFadden said. “This isn’t just a we’re-happy-to-be-in-the-final-four situation.”

It’s been repeated over and over the past few days: No one in Maryland is ready for this season to come to an end.

Sep. 13: All times Eastern
Final - OT
Coast Guard 24, at Nichols 23
Video Box Score Live stats
Final
Western New England 56, at Westfield State 35
Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at Massachusetts Maritime 31, SUNY-Maritime 14
Video Box Score
Final
Becker 12, at Worcester State 10
Video Box Score
Final
William Paterson 28, at FDU-Florham 23
Sep. 14: All times Eastern
Final
at Brockport 14, Framingham State 0
Video Box Score Box Score Recap
Final
at Lawrence Tech 34, Wisconsin Lutheran 14
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Norwich 30, St. Lawrence 24
Video Box Score
Final
Montclair State 28, at Salve Regina 11
Video Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Utica 26, Buffalo State 15
Video Box Score
Final
at Springfield 21, Kean 14
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at St. John Fisher 35, Bridgewater State 28
Box Score
Final - OT
at Mass-Dartmouth 48, Husson 41
Video Preview Box Score Recap Live stats Photos
Final
Shenandoah 35, at N.C. Wesleyan 19
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Endicott 28, Rochester 3
Video Video Box Score Recap
Final
Cortland 31, at TCNJ 7
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Salisbury 24, UW-Oshkosh 19
Video Box Score
Final
at Franklin Pierce 29, Curry 27
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Georgetown 69, Catholic 0
Video Box Score Photos
Final
University of New England 35, at Alvernia 28
Video Box Score Photos
Final
Ferrum 55, at Greensboro 7
Video Box Score
Final
Hamilton 37, at Bowdoin 24
Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at Amherst 27, Bates 13
Video Box Score Photos
Final
Union 54, at Anna Maria 7
Box Score
Final
at Plymouth State 48, Maine Maritime 6
Video Box Score
Final
Wittenberg 36, at Hiram 12
Video Box Score
Final
at Wesleyan 30, Colby 10
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Wooster 17, Oberlin 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Hanover 49, Adrian 28
Video Box Score
Final
Guilford 19, at Methodist 14
Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at Franklin and Marshall 54, Juniata 0
Video Video Box Score
Final
Susquehanna 28, at Johns Hopkins 27
Video Video Box Score Recap
Final
Hobart 38, at Morrisville State 24
Final
at Lycoming 43, Widener 42
Video Box Score
Final
Ripon 45, at Finlandia 12
Video Box Score
Final
Washington and Jefferson 59, at Thiel 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Westminster (Pa.) 45, Waynesburg 21
Video
Final - 4OT
Wesley 24, at Delaware Valley 18
Video Box Score Recap Live stats Audio
Final
at Alfred 15, George Fox 14
Video Box Score
Final
at Wilkes 30, Lebanon Valley 24
Video
Final
McDaniel 13, at Moravian 10
Video Box Score Photos
Final
Muhlenberg 38, at Dickinson 9
Video Box Score
Final
Ursinus 48, at Gettysburg 10
Video Box Score
Final
at Washington and Lee 42, Sewanee 7
Video Box Score Recap
Final
UW-Whitewater 20, at Concordia-Moorhead 10
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at St. Scholastica 41, Presentation 13
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Claremont-Mudd-Scripps 30, at Northwestern (Minn.) 7
Video Box Score
Final
at Tufts 14, Trinity (Conn.) 8
Video Box Score Photos
Final
Ohio Northern 39, at Muskingum 10
Video Box Score Photos Photos
Final
at Hope 80, Defiance 6
Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
Trine 35, at Bluffton 20
Video Box Score
Final
at Heidelberg 35, Wilmington 10
Video Box Score
Final
at Middlebury 17, Williams 13
Video Box Score Photos
Final
Linfield 35, at Rowan 14
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Baldwin Wallace 45, at Otterbein 28
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Ohio Wesleyan 42, at Kenyon 0
Video Box Score
Final
at Fitchburg State 12, Castleton 10
Video Box Score
Final
at Central 45, DePauw 19
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Millsaps 35, at Westminster (Mo.) 10
Video Box Score
Final
Olivet 54, at Concordia-Chicago 24
Video Box Score Recap Recap Photos
Final
at UW-Stevens Point 31, Wabash 28
Video Photos
Final
Carleton 20, at Lawrence 10
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Simpson 27, Chicago 23
Video Box Score
Final
at Greenville 31, Kalamazoo 17
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Concordia (Wis.) 31, at Augsburg 0
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Martin Luther 34, Rockford 20
Video Box Score
Final
at Lake Forest 44, Grinnell 0
Video Box Score Photos
Final
Bethel 38, at UW-River Falls 20
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at St. Norbert 27, UW-Eau Claire 21
Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at Crown 23, Beloit 6
Video Photos
Final
Aurora 48, at Elmhurst 22
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Howard Payne 56, at McMurry 37
Video Box Score
Final - 2OT
at UW-La Crosse 33, Illinois Wesleyan 27
Video Box Score Recap Live stats Audio
Final
at Knox 44, Iowa Wesleyan 0
Video Box Score
Final
at Nebraska Wesleyan 25, Illinois College 20
Video
Final
Gustavus Adolphus 41, at UW-Stout 31
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at WPI 6, RPI 3
Box Score Recap
Final
St. Olaf 33, at Luther 20
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at La Verne 43, Willamette 33
Video Box Score
Final
at Pomona-Pitzer 20, Lewis and Clark 0
Video Video Box Score
Final
at Pacific Lutheran 17, Cal Lutheran 10
Video Box Score
Final
Hartwick 30, at Alfred State 20
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Western Connecticut 41, Dean 16
Video Box Score
Final
Alma 35, at Manchester 7
Video Box Score Photos
Final
Randolph-Macon 30, at Averett 27
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Albion 48, at Franklin 26
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Berry 34, LaGrange 9
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Anderson 27, Cincinnati Christian 23
Box Score
Final - OT
Hampden-Sydney 27, at Christopher Newport 24
Video Box Score Live stats Audio
Final
Carnegie Mellon 31, at Geneva 6
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Marietta 44, at Capital 7
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Bridgewater 37, at Stevenson 22
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Centre 27, Maryville (Tenn.) 22
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Grove City 26, Bethany 15
Video Box Score
Final
Austin 27, at Southwestern Assemblies 26
Video
Final
at Loras 42, Benedictine 14
Video Box Score
Final
at Hardin-Simmons 16, Trinity (Texas) 10
Video Box Score Photos Photos
Final
at Dubuque 37, Pacific 26
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Buena Vista 27, Concordia (Neb.) 24
Video
Final
at Birmingham-Southern 45, Huntingdon 13
Video Video Box Score
Final
at Eureka 41, MacMurray 24
Video Box Score Photos
Final
Hendrix 26, at Texas Lutheran 23
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Mary Hardin-Baylor 56, Albright 15
Video Box Score
Final
Valley City State 67, at Minnesota-Morris 7
Video
Final
at Wartburg 38, Monmouth 9
Video Box Score
Final
Rose-Hulman 30, at Rhodes 0
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Hamline 31, at Macalester 27
Video Box Score
Final
Louisiana College 20, at Belhaven 14
Final
at Texas A&M-Kingsville 72, Sul Ross State 0
Final
at Redlands 58, Puget Sound 7
Video Box Score
Sep. 15: All times Eastern
4th - 15:00
0 Cornell
35 Coe
Live stats Video
Sep. 5: All times Eastern
Final
Johns Hopkins 17, at Randolph-Macon 12
Video Box Score Recap Recap
Sep. 6: All times Eastern
Final
Delaware Valley 37, at Kean 7
Video Box Score Recap
Sep. 7: All times Eastern
Final
at RPI 52, Allegheny 14
Video Box Score Recap
Final
North Central (Ill.) 43, at Christopher Newport 13
Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
Wesley 69, at Franklin Pierce 0
Video Box Score Photos
Final
at Muhlenberg 45, TCNJ 26
Video Video Box Score
Final
Ithaca 66, at St. Vincent 28
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at Washington and Jefferson 16, Wittenberg 8
Video Box Score Recap
Final
at John Carroll 21, UW-Stevens Point 7
Video Box Score
Final
Centre 45, at Hanover 31
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Berry 31, at Maryville (Tenn.) 10
Video Box Score
Final
at Bethel 42, Simpson 10
Video Video Box Score
Final
Wheaton (Ill.) 38, at Monmouth 0
Video Box Score
Final
St. John's 14, at UW-Stout 7
Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final - OT
at UW-La Crosse 21, Concordia-Moorhead 14
Video Box Score Recap
Final
Whitworth 50, at La Verne 24
Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at St. Thomas 69, Trinity International 3
Video Video Box Score Recap Photos
Final
at UW-Whitewater 42, Dubuque 7
Video Box Score Photos
Final
Mount Union 66, at Rose-Hulman 14
Video Box Score Photos Photos
Final
Hardin-Simmons 64, at Sul Ross State 0
Box Score Photos