No. 10 Johns Hopkins edges Ursinus, 24-18, for share of Centennial Conference title

Interception by Ryan Rice clinches Blue Jays' fifth straight regular-season crown

November 02, 2013|By Tim Schwartz, The Baltimore Sun

Down six and driving, Ursinus backup quarterback Kevin Monahan never saw Ryan Rice sprinting toward the ball.

That is, not until the junior Johns Hopkins defensive back intercepted his pass to the right sideline, all but clinching a 24-18 win over the visiting Bears on Saturday before an announced 2,400 at Homewood Field and giving the No. 10 Blue Jays (8-0, 7-0 Centennial Conference) at least a share of the Centennial Conference regular-season title for the fifth straight season.

The turnover, which came at the Ursinus 38 with 2:50 remaining in the game, foiled the Bears' (6-2, 5-2) chances of an upset.

"I got beat early on in the game and I knew that my number was going to be called later in the game. And I saw the ball and I had to make a break on it," Rice said. "So that was the end of it."

Added sophomore running back Brandon Cherry (Boys' Latin): "It's a great feeling, but we clinched a share. We don't want to share; we want to have all of it."

Hopkins first had to overcome a tough first half Saturday.

Blue Jays freshman kicker Nick Campbell's 32-yarder opened the scoring, but the Bears answered quickly with a 69-yard touchdown pass from Monahan to Jerry Rahill, who went over Rice to bring the catch in before running the final 30 yards untouched to give Ursinus a 6-3 lead after the extra-point attempt failed.

Things got worse for the Blue Jays when freshman returner Bradley Munday could not secure a bouncing ball on the ensuing kickoff and was tackled in the end zone for a safety and an 8-3 deficit.

Hopkins found its rhythm running the ball in the second quarter, and finished a 14-play, 98-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run by senior running back JD Abbott. The score gave the Blue Jays a 10-8 lead with 5:22 remaining in the half.

Although they gained plenty of yards between the 20s, the Blue Jays struggled to score once inside in the red zone, converting only four of seven chances. In one missed opportunity, senior quarterback Robbie Matey fumbled at the Ursinus 7 with 14 seconds left in the first half.

Monahan again found Rahill for a 76-yard touchdown pass to give the Bears a 15-10 lead early in the third. Ursinus kicker Nick Campbell later converted a 36-yard field goal for an 18-10 lead.

Trailing at home seemed to give the Blue Jays needed motivation. After a long, methodical drive that went 90 yards in 15 plays, Matey found senior wide receiver Daniel Wodicka for an 8-yard touchdown pass. The two-point conversion failed, and the Bears had an 18-16 lead early in the fourth quarter.

After Ursinus went three-and-out, Hopkins drove downfield behind Cherry, who carried the offense inside the 20. But the Blue Jays' red-zone problems continued when Abbott lost a fumble on third-and-2 at the 5 with 9:13 left.

Two plays later, the Bears turned the ball over right back to the Blue Jays when junior defensive back Christopher Ibrahim intercepted Monahan's pass at the Ursinus 33.

Matey soon found senior wide receiver Daniel Wodicka up the middle for a 16-yard touchdown pass, and a successful two-point conversion gave Hopkins a 24-16 lead with 6:30 left.

Ursinus' final drives ended with a punt, Rice's interception and a turnover on downs.

Cherry, who gained more than 100 rushing yards for the third straight game Saturday, has become Hopkins' most consistent runner. He finished with 122 yards on 25 carries as the Blue Jays finished with 242 rushing yards total on 58 carries.

"My job is to carry the ball 25 times, get the yardage and let someone else score," Cherry said. "I'm happy to do that."

The Blue Jays can clinch sole possession of the conference title with a victory over visiting Franklin & Marshall next Saturday.

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