The idea for Western Maryland yesterday was to prepare for next weekend's Division III playoffs one last time, establish a couple more offensive records and move a game closer to Johns Hopkins in the two programs' storied series.
The Blue Jays, however, came with their own plan.
Getting a record-breaking performance from senior wide receiver Zach Baylin and a resilient defensive effort that forced four turnovers, Hopkins ended the Green Terrors' 33-game Centennial Conference winning streak with a stunning, 21-14 win at Bair Stadium in Westminster.
The Blue Jays, who finished the season 6-3, were the last team to beat the Green Terror in conference play, in 1996, and now own a 40-35-5 edge in a series that began in 1894.
The Green Terror, which came into the game No. 9 in the country in Division III and left with an 8-2 mark, was the highest-ranked opponent Johns Hopkins has ever defeated.
"I was just really proud of the way our guys stuck with our plan and came out and played hard. We just played a good, solid game," said Hopkins coach Jim Margraff.
"We looked at the stage that was set: We're playing the ninth-ranked team in the country, they're conference champions, and we won our last home game last week to secure a winning record.
"Some people would want to go out and play a weak team the next week and win. I want to go out and play one of the top teams in the nation, so we're real excited about it. Our kids knew Western Maryland has a great team, but you want to challenge yourselves like that."
The game became secondary for a brief time late in the fourth quarter when Western Maryland senior wide receiver Chris Hamilton injured his spine after landing awkwardly after a catch.
Western Maryland coach Tim Keating said Hamilton was fine, though he was taken off the field by ambulance to Carroll County General Hospital as a precautionary measure.
Baylin, who became the fourth Blue Jays receiver to gain more than 2,000 receiving yards for a career, finished the afternoon with a school-record 14 catches for 120 yards, and his third touchdown -- a 2-yard grab of a pass from senior quarterback Rob Heleniak -- with 7:58 left, proved to be the decisive score.
Heleniak, primarily sticking with a short-passing game, completed 28 of 45 throws for 242 yards and the three scores to Baylin.
"Basically, we just came out with a plan to keep things simple," Baylin said. "We knew that we'd have to put up some points because their offense is so strong, and Rob just had a great day -- I can't remember a bad pass he threw all game. These are always the guys we want to beat all year, so it's nice," Baylin said.
The Green Terror surpassed 400 points in a season (413) for the first time in program history and broke the school mark for total offense with 4,285 yards this season, but couldn't close out its final drive yesterday to tie the game.
Hamilton's 31-yard catch with 2:59 left gave the Green Terror a first down at the Blue Jays' 33, but the drive ended three plays later when linebacker Marc Della Pia intercepted Boo Harris' pass.
"We knew we could beat this team," said junior linebacker Mike Little, who intercepted a pass and led Hopkins' defensive effort. "We thought we could have been 7-1 coming going into this game because we lost a tough one at Muhlenberg and a tough one to Dickinson. I thought we could play with anybody and we came out here and gave it the best we got. It's a very nice win."
Coming off an impressive, 42-21 win over Division I-AA Jacksonville last weekend, the Green Terror must now wait until this afternoon to find out where it will play in Saturday's opening round of the playoffs. It will be the team's fifth straight postseason appearance.
"The guys that you depend on from week to week to make plays made mistakes today," Keating said. "This loss probably happened when we were coming back from Florida because we didn't prepare well -- it's a team loss."
"It's terribly disappointing, but I'm always looking for a silver lining and maybe it will light a fire under their butts, so I'm going to look at it that way."
Johns Hopkins 0 7 7 7 -- 21
Western Maryland 7 0 0 7 -- 14