|T.J. Josey comes up with the catch between St. John's defensive backs Chris Harris and Max Jackson. One defender missed, the other's momentum carried him out of the play and Josey was able to amble into the end zone to complete a 51-yard touchdown catch.
Photo by Joe Fusco, d3photography.com
Mary Hardin-Baylor survived a fourth-quarter flurry to edge St. John's, while UW-Whitewater held off Bethel and Mount Union and Johns Hopkins advanced as well in Saturday's national quarterfinal games.
The No. 2-ranked Cru held on to defeat the No. 3 Johnnies, 21-18, first when Elijah Cross intercepted a pass at the 2-yard line, then when Jefferson Fritz picked off Jackson Erdmann in the end zone.
In between the two picks, the Johnnies special teams blocked a punt and Erdmann hit Will Gillach for a touchdown. St. John's followed by recovering an onside kick, and Erdmann hit Adam Essler for a 27-yard catch-and-run down to the 25-yard line, but Erdmann's final interception allowed the Cru to kneel it out. Gillach, Essler and Joey Eckhoff each had more than 100 yards receiving for the Johnnies, as Erdmann finished 28-for-48 for 418 yards, two scores and three picks.
Mary Hardin-Baylor (13-0) had taken a 21-11 lead with 10:31 left in the game when Jase Hammack found T.J. Josey deep downfield. Josey made the catch in double coverage, saw two St. John's defenders collide, and took it into the end zone for a 51-yard touchdown catch.
The game times for the national semifinals, featuring Johns Hopkins at Mount Union and UW-Whitewater at Mary Hardin-Baylor, will be set by ESPN. Game times will be announced on Sunday.
Muhlenberg stayed within striking distance of No. 1 Mount Union for three-plus quarters before the Purple Raiders scored on drives of 38 and 4 yards to put the Mules away in a 38-10 win. Muhlenberg struck first when Mount Union turned the ball over on its first two possessions, but the Purple Raiders scored 24 consecutive points, the last coming on a 20-yard interception return for a touchdown by Louis Berry. Josh Petruccelli led Mount Union (13-0) with 35 carries for 219 yards and three touchdowns, taking the reins of the offense on a first-quarter drive after D'Angelo Fulford left the field, reportedly needing a new contact lens. Fulford finished just 10-for-23 for 61 yards, but the Purple Raider defense limited Michael Hnatkowski to just 6-for-27 passing for 89 yards and picked him off three times.
David Tammaro completed 26 of his 41 passes for 284 yards and a score and running back Stuart Walters looked like his old self with 16 carries for 115 yards and two scores in Johns Hopkins' 37-14 win vs. RPI. Walters broke loose for a 52-yard touchdown run to open the scoring with 10:08 left in the first quarter. After the Engineers answered with an 80-yard drive, Walters and the Blue Jays answered. Keaton Ackermann ran for his second TD of the game to cut the lead to 24-14, but JHU answered with two long drives to put the game away and advance to the national semifinals for the first time.
UW-Whitewater returned to the national semifinals after a two-year absence as the Warhawks defeated Bethel 26-12. Whitewater picked off Royals quarterback Jaran Roste four times and held him to 61 yards rushing.
Ronny Ponick and the Warhawks (12-0) turned two early Bethel miscues into quick touchdowns and went up 15-0 after the first quarter. Roste's two touchdown runs came in the final six minutes of the first half, to pull Bethel (11-2) within 11 points, but Roste was picked on the 3-yard line late in the third and the Royals never got back into Warhawk territory. The Warhawks won despite completing just one pass on the afternoon, while Wilber also threw one interception in nine attempts on a rainy, cold day. But Alex Peete ran for 123 yards on 24 carries and Ponick had 21 rushes for 117 yards and two scores in the win.