Hopkins puts down Western Maryland, 13-3 Blue Jays' win in rivalry record-tying 7th of season

November 17, 1996|By Jason LaCanfora | Jason LaCanfora,SUN STAFF

Notre Dame against Southern California.

Army against Navy.

Johns Hopkins against Western Maryland.

Believe it or not, those two local Division III schools share something with the giants of college football -- a rivalry that dates to the last century. The teams met yesterday afternoon for the 75th time since 1894, and Hopkins left the field with a 13-3 victory.

This was no ordinary win. "Beat Western Maryland" is the rallying cry for Johns Hopkins alumni. Two years ago, the Blue Jays, who now are 40-31-4 in their series with the Green Terror, made up shirts bearing that message.

But there was another rallying cry yesterday. With the victory, the Blue Jays (7-3) reached the seven-win plateau for just the fifth time in school history and the first time since 1981. Their locker room walls were covered with signs reminding the players of what they could accomplish with a win.

All the intensity and buildup was almost too much for Hopkins coach Jim Margraff, a member of the 1981 Blue Jays team, to take.

"With a chance for seven wins and with Western Maryland, the last week has been very emotional for us," Margraff said. "I had trouble handling it at times. We were really up for this game. I had to tone them down a little bit."

And if tying a school record for wins and beating the Green Terror (4-6) weren't enough, there was still another motivational factor. For 17 Blue Jays seniors, yesterday's game would produce their last memories of college football.

"I feel tremendous for our seniors," Margraff said. "They are great kids. They're exceptional students. They came into this program at 4-6 [in 1993] and 4-6 [in 1994] and they're going out as one of the five best teams in school history."

Margraff made sure they would have something positive to remember. He closed Friday's practice, the Blue Jays' last of the season, with a ceremony for the seniors in the end zone. The rest of the team formed a gauntlet and the seniors walked through, at their own pace, and addressed the other members of the team.

"They took their time saying goodbye to all the underclassmen," Margraff said. "It got pretty emotional. There was some hugging and real emotion there."

But amidst all the senior celebrations, a junior took over. Running back Don Zajick established the tempo. He rushed seven times for 46 yards on a second-quarter drive, setting up the game's only touchdown. The Blue Jays ran the ball 12 times on that drive, totaling 69 yards and taking 6: 20 off the clock.

Zajick capped his 27-carry, 115-yard day on the Jays' final drive, when they moved 64 yards in four minutes to set up a 33-yard field goal that put the game out of reach. In all, Hopkins rushed for 245 yards. It threw the ball a mere 11 times (five completions for 29 yards) and was picked off three times.

"This is always the biggest game of the year for us," Zajick said, "and the alumni and we knew we could run on them. We knew had the talent to drive on them. A lot of running plays; that's all we needed to do."

Pub Date: 11/17/96

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