Forget that the Johns Hopkins offense has grabbed all the attention this season. Forget that the Blue Jays have a quarterback who makes 250-yard passing days routine.
Yesterday, the story at Homewood Field was defense.
Although the Blue Jays defense was hardly dominating, it was impenetrable when it had to be, and Hopkins held on for a 16-14 victory over Franklin & Marshall.
"Our motto is bend but don't break," said safety Tom Baugher.
Hopkins led 16-8 with four minutes to play, but the Diplomats were driving. Franklin & Marshall quarterback Bill Meekings completed a pass to Nick Cardellino at the 15, but Baugher laid a punishing hit on him and jarred the ball loose. Safety Brian Hepting recovered the fumble.
"I just tried to hit him as hard as I could," Baugher said.
Hopkins then ran three plays and punted, giving the Diplomats another chance with 2 minutes, 53 seconds to play. But Hepting was the hero this time. He intercepted a pass at the Hopkins 23.
"We knew it was going to come down to us and we had to pull
together," said Hepting, who was playing his final game at Homewood Field.
The Diplomats got the ball again, and this time they scored, when Meekings ran in from 3 yards out with 28 seconds to play.
But junior linebacker Stu Markley forced Franklin & Marshall fullback Jake Kolen out of bounds before getting in for the two-point conversion.
"The first thing we talked about in preseason was defense," said Hopkins coach Jim Margraff, who has a career record of 8-0-2 at Homewood Field. "Our defense has played hard all year long. Today they really put it together."
Offensively, the Blue Jays (5-3-1, 3-3 in the Centennial Football Conference) were able to stretch and contract the Diplomats defense like an accordion in the second quarter.
Quarterback John Guglielmo threw short pass after short pass outside. Just when the Diplomats (5-4, 4-2) moved out to cover those plays, he would use a draw play up the middle.