Muhlenberg pins 1st loss on Hopkins

Penalties help blemish perfect record, 14-6

College Football

October 26, 2003|By Ron Cassie | Ron Cassie,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - For the second straight year the Johns Hopkins football team took a perfect record into its game with conference rival Muhlenberg, and for the second straight year the Blue Jays left once beaten.

Hopkins rallied yesterday but could not overcome a pair of first-half touchdowns from Muhlenberg tailback Matt Bernardo and lost, 14-6.

Bernardo, who missed the last 2 1/2 games with an injured shoulder, set Centennial Conference marks with the 61st and 62nd touchdowns of his career. He carried 33 times for 135 yards.

Hopkins (7-1, 3-1) entered the contest on an 11-game winning streak dating back to last fall's 23-10 loss to Muhlenberg at Homewood Field. Its 7-0 start matched the school record set in 1892.

Hopkins, ranked 13th nationally in Division III and allowing an average of just 5.5 points per game before yesterday, hurt itself with six defensive penalties in the opening half.

"We're disappointed in ourselves, we killed ourselves with mental mistakes," said junior linebacker Paul Longo, who made a career-high 14 tackles. "First the offside calls and then the pass interference on the fake field goal. It's not the losing that's tough to take - it's not playing your best - that's tough. I'm not used to this."

Three straight offside penalties dug Muhlenberg (4-2, 4-1) out of a second-and-12 on its 38-yard line and set up Bernardo's first score - a 47-yard burst off left tackle with 2:21 remaining in the first quarter.

"The line got a great seal upfront, our fullback Mike Mrkobrad kicked out the end and then it was a footrace," Bernardo said. "I felt fresh, I had been running and working out, but I hadn't taken any hits in a couple of weeks."

Two possessions later, it was 14-0.

A crucial defensive pass interference call against Hopkins - off a 33-yard fake field-goal attempt on fourth down - put Muhlenberg at the Hopkins 3 with six minutes left in the half. Bernardo rolled in on the next play.

"Bernardo's a terrific back, but what also hurt us was that when he came back they could move the other kid [Mrkobrad] back to fullback," Johns Hopkins coach Jim Margraff said.

Hopkins held receiver Kodi Shay, who'd been averaging 236.8 all-purpose yards a game in check, but was by stung by Mrkobrad, who totaled eight catches and 117 yards.

Late in the second half, starting quarterback George Merrell was replaced by Zach DiIonna, who is a better deep thrower according to Margraff. DiIonna responded with a 52-yard scoring pass to freshman wide-out Anthony Triplin to cut the lead to 14-6 with 7:05 left. But the Blue Jays never threatened again.

Running back Adam Cook, averaging 107.5 yards a game, was held to 60 and top wide receiver Brian Walcott, averaging 66 yards per game, was limited to 31. Overall, Muhlenberg out-totaled Hopkins in offensive yardage 280-192.

"I was itching for the ball the whole game. We missed some opportunities," Triplin said. "We felt a lot of pressure as a group offensively in the second half because the defense had been carrying us all year. We didn't get it done."

Muhlenberg is tied with Hopkins, McDaniel and Gettysburg with one loss in league play. Muhlenberg meets Gettysburg next week, and Hopkins and McDaniel play in two weeks.

Johns Hopkins 0 0 0 6 - 6

Muhlenberg 7 7 0 0 - 14

First quarter M-Bernardo 47 run (Hendershot kick), 2:21 Second quarter M-Bernardo 3 run (Hendershot kick), 6:00 Fourth quarter JH-Triplin 52 pass from DiIonno (kick failed), 7:05 A-N/A

JH M

First downs 12 16

Rushes-yards 23-46 43-109

Comp-Att-Int 18-45-1 14-35-2

Passing Yards 146 171

Total yards 192 280

Punts-Avg 11-37.0 12-29.4

Fumbles-Lost 2-0 1-0

Penalties-Yards 7-37 8-54

Time of Possession 25:51 34:09

Rushing-Johns Hopkins, Cook 12-60. Muhlenberg, Bernardo 33-135. Passing-Johns Hopkins, DiIonno 18-5-1-80, Merrell 27-13-0-66.Muhlenberg, Kelleher 35-14-2-171. Receiving-Johns Hopkins, Cook 9-57, Wolcott 4-31. Muhlenberg, Mrkobrad 8-117.

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