Hopkins wins second straight ECAC title

Merrell's 2 passing TDs, 1 rushing score lead Jays past King's College, 41-13

College Football

November 23, 2003|By Phillip McGowan | Phillip McGowan,SUN STAFF

About the only place the Johns Hopkins football team failed to perform yesterday was from the sideline.

The Blue Jays couldn't douse coach Jim Margraff with a water bucket, but by that time, they had already made a splash in the Eastern College Athletic Conference South Atlantic championship game at Homewood Field.

Senior quarterback George Merrell threw for two touchdowns and ran for one against King's College yesterday in leading a quick-strike Hopkins offense to a 34-point first half, a 41-13 victory and its second straight ECAC title.

"We just missed him twice," Merrell said of the Jays' attempt to soak their coach. "He's probably happy he's still dry."

Merrell, the game's Most Valuable Player, had much better luck in finding his receivers. He completed 19 of 31 passes for 267 yards, and his two scoring passes gave him a school-record-tying 18 for the season. (John Guglielmo also threw 18 in 1991.)

Hopkins (10-1) finished with 10 victories for the first time, and junior Adam Cook broke the Jays' single-season rushing record. His 63 yards yesterday gave him 1,047, eclipsing Adam Gentile's 1,001 yards in 1998.

Cook broke through a pack of Monarchs and jumped to the outside for a 28-yard gain that clinched the record and set up a field goal that put Hopkins up 34-7 with 2:25 left in the first half.

"Coach set us up well," Cook said. "We were motivated."

Despite the Jays ending the regular season with nine wins and a share of the Centennial Conference title with Muhlenberg, it was Muhlenberg that advanced to the Division III NCAA tournament by virtue of beating Hopkins on Oct. 25.

So Hopkins, who didn't earn an at-large berth, won the right to play host to an ECAC championship for the second year in a row -- Division III football's version of basketball's National Invitation Tournament. The Blue Jays beat Frostburg State, 24-21, last season in the ECAC Southwest championship.

"Initially there was disappointment," said senior defensive back Jonas Nelson, who intercepted two passes. "But we were thrilled to play another game."

The defense set up plenty of opportunities, none bigger than late in the first quarter. After Hopkins took a 10-0 lead on Ben Scott's 22-yard field goal, King's (7-4) substituted T.D. Callahan for Richard Jackson at running back, and the team from Wilkes-Barre, Pa., started to roll. Callahan rushed eight times for 53 yards, advancing them to a first-and-goal at the 1.

A quarterback sneak by David Hessler went nowhere, as did rushing tries by Callahan and Jackson. After a timeout, the handoff went to Jackson. As quickly as a hole to the end zone opened up on the right, defensive lineman Paul Smith closed it up, handing possession back to Hopkins.

"If we can't get the ball in from 1 1/2 yards out in four tries, then we've got some things to work on," Monarchs coach Rich Mannello said.

After a pass interference call advanced the Jays to the 16, Merrell threw strikes of 29 yards to Jason Lehman, 25 yards to Nate Readal, 16 yards to Brian Wolcott and 13 yards to Cook, the last one giving Hopkins a 17-0 lead.

"There's hope in such a decisive victory," said Nelson, referring to the Jays' seemingly bright future after 19 victories in two seasons. He added: "It will be exciting to see where Hopkins goes."

King's College 0 7 0 6 -- 13

Johns Hopkins 10 24 7 0 -- 41

First quarter JH--Wolcott 8 pass from Merrell (Scott kick), 12:31 JH--Scott 22 FG, 6:58 Second quarter JH--Cook 13 pass from Merrell (Scott kick), 14:18 KC--Jackson 10 run (VonTanhaus kick), 10:47 JH--Merrell 1 run (Scott kick), 8:58 JH--Lyons 2 run (Scott kick), 5:12 JH--Scot 20 FG, 2:25 Third quarter JH--Luke 14 fumble recovery return (Scott kick), 3:01 Fourth quarter KC--Jackson 3 run (pass failed), 5:07 A--850.


First downs 24 25

Rushes-yards 51-233 36-209

Passing 177 267

Comp-Att-Int 12-39-4 19-32-1

Return Yards 106 67

Punts-Avg. 3-42.0 4-35.8

Fumbles-Lost 1-1 0-0

Penalties-Yards 8-65 7-51

Time of possession 31:01 28:59

Rushing--King's College, Jackson 29-109, Callahan 10-65, Hessler 10-49, Snelling 1-8, Novia 1-2. Johns Hopkins, Lyons 13-113, Cook 9-63, Merrell 6-28, Wolcott 1-5, Readal 1-4, Stopper 5-1, team 1-(minus-5). Passing--King's College, Hessler 12-39-4-177. Johns Hopkins, Merrell 19-31-0-267, DiIonno 0-1-1-0. Receiving--King's College, Walker 4-84, Letchford 3-24, Snelling 2-31, Nicodemus 1-26, McCulloug 1-7, Jackson 1-5. Johns Hopkins, Triplin 5-53, Lehman 4-74, Wolcott 4-51, Readal 2-28, Moriarty 2-26, Cook 2-19, Lyons 1-16.

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