Dave Erfle, a senior tri-captain for the Johns Hopkins football team, wore a wide grin and a message on his T-shirt -- the words "We're Back" sandwiched betweeen "Hopkins" and "Football" -- after yesterday's game.
It was a message the Blue Jays just had finished delivering with a 31-21 victory over Western Maryland before a Homewood Field crowd of 1,078 on a cold, wet afternoon.
The game featured two record-smashing offensive stars, as junior Eric Frees of Western Maryland rushed 37 times for 273 yards and two touchdowns, and Hopkins sophomore Paul Ferreri ran 37 times for 252 yards and four touchdowns.
This was the 68th game in the annual rivalry, and for a change it meant even more to both teams.
The victory gave Johns Hopkins (5-4-1) a winning season for the first time since 1985. Western Maryland (6-3-1), meanwhile, was playing for the Centennial Conference championship.
Dickinson, with a 13-0 win over Ursinus, claimed first place at 5-1-1, followed by Western Maryland at 5-2 and Johns Hopkins at 4-2-1.
"Our big things were a winning season and to keep them from winning the title on our turf," said Hopkins defensive back Brian Hepting.
The game turned on big plays, but not the ones first-year Hopkins coach Jim Margraff expected. An 11-yard touchdown run on a fourth-and-one call and a recovery of the kickoff that followed were the keys to a 10-point burst in the last two minutes of the half that sent the Blue Jays winging, 24-14.
Sophomore John Guglielmo, who went all the way at quarterback, passed 16 yards to Dan Flynn, and Ferreri and senior fullback Eric Mont took care of the running. There was 1 minutes, 16 seconds left in the half when Ferreri dashed into the end zone, marking the eighth game the Jays scored in their two-minute drill.
The ensuing squib kick ricocheted off Western Maryland's Jeff Lawn and was covered by kicker Marzio Trotta at the Hopkins 41. Successive passes to Ferreri for 14 and 23 yards, the latter to the Western Maryland 3-yard line, set up Trotta's 19-yard field goal, his second field goal of the year.
Frees broke one of those big plays Margraff expected, racing 94 yards to score with less than six minutes gone. Hopkins scored on its next tow series for a 14-7 lead.
Ferreri, a 5-foot-8, 185-pound athlete from suburban Buffalo, N.Y., who was challenged by Margraff's comment that Frees was Ferreri with speed, responded by running 19 and 46 yards for scores.
Western Maryland tied the score at 14 by going 43 yards in 13 plays, with frees -- who carried 10 times in the drive -- going the last 2.