Hopkins, W. Md. lay it on line Blue Jays, Green Terror hook up in finale with plenty at stake again

November 14, 1998|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

A few of the names have changed, but the game between Johns Hopkins and Western Maryland remains the same.

Today's 1 p.m. matchup on Homewood Field will have the same ramifications as last year's matchup. For the Green Terror (9-0, 6-0), the game means sole possession of the Centennial Conference championship and a berth in the NCAA Division III playoffs.

For the Blue Jays (7-2, 5-1), it's a shot at a share of the conference title and the school's best record since a 6-1 campaign in 1967.

For both, it's a chance to beat their fiercest rivals in the final regular-season game for seniors like Western Maryland offensive lineman Mat Mathias and Hopkins defensive end Larry Gulotta.

"Our number one rival is always Western Maryland. No matter what, it's always a tough game," said Gulotta, who expects a good following in the one week a year where Hopkins cares about football. "We usually get a good turnout against Western Maryland. There's a certain amount of apathy and for years, lacrosse was the only sound team. But when we're playing Western Maryland for the conference championship, the student body gets behind us."

The Green Terror has scored 39.1 points a game in 1998, allowing 11.2 while extending its regular-season winning streak to 19 games. The key has been quarterback Ron Sermarini, who leads the conference in total offense at 201.8 yards per game.

But what Hopkins coach Jim Margraff fears most is the ability of the Green Terror to turn a close game into a runaway. Tim Keating's team has outscored its opponents 114-33 in the second quarter, getting big plays from its special teams and defense in addition to the offense.

"They seem to have a huge run in every game," said Margraff, who noted that the Green Terror leads Division III in turnover margin at plus-2.56 per game. "Western Maryland might be up 7-0, then Ron Sermarini makes a great play. All of a sudden, you're down 28-0. Teams come in playing extremely hard and smart, but they have too many weapons."

Johns Hopkins will try to counteract this by coming up with big plays of its own. Though Western Maryland has 22 interceptions and has given up only five touchdowns through the air, it has been vulnerable to the pass. That's where Hopkins might attack, leaning on quarterbacks Wayne Roccia and Jamie Monica, who have combined for 1,826 passing yards.

"We've got to be aggressive and we'll throw the ball early. They know that," Margraff said. "We're just trying to stay out of third-and-long situations. You have to be fairly productive and you have to make big plays."

NOTE: Gulotta will honored by the Burger King College Football Scholarship program at halftime of today's game. Gulotta, of Calumet City, Ill., has 15 tackles on the season and is a biology/pre-med student with a 3.73 GPA. The company will donate $10,000 to Hopkins' general fund in his name.

Pub Date: 11/14/98

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