Unbeaten W. Maryland trips up Hopkins Green Terror's 17-0 win clinches Centennial title, likely NCAA road game

November 15, 1998|By Christian Ewell | Christian Ewell,SUN STAFF

Shortly after Western Maryland completed a successful trip to Homewood Field yesterday by finishing off an undefeated regular season with a 17-0 win over Johns Hopkins, the Green Terror began planning for its next journey.

Its travel agent for this trip, however, will be the NCAA.

The NCAA will announce its Division III playoff pairings this morning, and with No. 3 Western Maryland (10-0, 7-0) a lock to be among the four teams in the South Region, almost everyone was offering suggestions.

Linebacker Tommy Salecky, part of a defense that held Hopkins (7-3, 5-2) to 20 rushing yards, said he wanted to go to Texas and play Trinity College in San Antonio, ranked No. 2 in the South Region.

"We want to travel [to Texas] -- we've earned it," Salecky said after the Green Terror earned its second straight Centennial Conference crown and 20th consecutive regular-season victory in front of 3,761 at Homewood Field. "We want to be known as the team that dominates everywhere."

Western Maryland coach Tim Keating would prefer to stay closer to home, which would mean a return trip to No. 1 Lycoming (Pa.), where the Green Terror lost its first-round playoff game in '97.

"My preference would be not to get on an airplane," said Keating, whose team will likely become the first Centennial Conference team to make the NCAAs in consecutive years and is already the only team to go unbeaten in conference play for two straight seasons.

All the travel plans became necessary because of what Western Maryland did yesterday -- shut down Johns Hopkins.

The Blue Jays, who came into the game with the second-most potent offense in the Centennial Conference, gained only 183 total yards.

Blue Jays coach Jim Margraff had wanted to avoid third-and-long situations on offense, but Hopkins stumbled into that hole on 10 occasions, and converted on only two of them.

On the first third-and-long, Wayne Roccia's hurried pass attempt to Cecil McPherson fell incomplete, forcing a punt. Western Maryland running back Joe Kendorski went for 33 yards on the Green Terror's first offensive play, starting a drive that ended on a 23-yard touchdown pass from Ron Sermarini to Mike Starke, for a 7-0 lead.

But Hopkins' defense stiffened and held Western Maryland to a 25-yard field goal by Brent Sand-rock in the second quarter, putting the Green Terror ahead 10-0.

The problem was that the Blue Jays' offense couldn't get untracked. Adam Gentile became the first Hopkins back to reach the 1,000-yard mark, but was a non-factor otherwise, gaining 24 yards on 14 carries. And quarterbacks Jamie Monica, Roccia and Ron Heleniak combined to complete 14 of 33 passes, with three picked off.

"We had a plan, and I don't think it was a bad one," Margraff said. "We just played against a good team."

Gentile was stuffed constantly by a Green Terror defense that was put in the unusual position of saving the day for the offense. The Green Terror's offense came in averaging 39 points and 454 yards per game. It finished with 308 yards yesterday.

"It's been a while since this has happened," Western Maryland free safety Tom Lapato said. "The offense didn't have its best day, but hopefully, they know that with a touchdown or two, we'll win."

Until the middle of the fourth quarter, Johns Hopkins still had a chance. With time running out, the Blue Jays attempted to convert on fourth-and-three at their 33, but Gentile was stuffed by Derrick Gwyn.

A 5-yard Tony Russo touchdown put the game out of reach.

"It's frustrating when you can't get anything going," said Gentile.

Pub Date: 11/15/98

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