BALTIMORE, MD – One year after turning loose the greatest passing attack in school history, the Johns Hopkins football team unleashed a lethal running game that churned out 344 yards and four touchdowns in a 36-13 season-opening victory over Randolph-Macon at Homewood Field Saturday afternoon. Complementing the offense was a stingy defense that produced six sacks and held the Yellow Jackets to just 32 yards rushing in Hopkins’ 15th consecutive regular season victory.
It took the Blue Jays exactly one play to take control of the line of scrimmage as senior Jonathan Rigaud got outside on the opening play of the game and scampered 62 yards to set the Blue Jays up at the Randolph-Macon 13-yard line. Rigaud capped the drive with a two-yard scoring run four plays later to stake Hopkins to an early 7-0 lead.
While the Blue Jays got out of the gate quickly on offense, the Yellow Jackets struggled in the early going against an aggressive Hopkins defense that dominated play along the line. Randolph-Macon generated just 48 yards of total offense in the first half with five of their six first-half possessions generating 10 yards or less of total offense.
With the Blue Jay defense doing its part, the Hopkins offense got rolling in the second quarter with touchdowns on three straight possessions that turned the 7-0 lead at the end of the first quarter into a 27-0 lead at the half.
Senior Scott Barletta capped a 13-play, 80-yard drive with a one-yard scoring run that pushed the lead to 13-0 midway through the quarter. The Blue Jays were forced to convert just once on third down on the drive, which saw junior quarterback Robbie Matey complete all four of his pass attempts for 44 yards while also rushing 14 yards.
Randolph-Macon gained just one first down on its ensuing possession and was forced to punt the ball back to the Blue Jays with just over 90 seconds remaining in the half. A 29-yard pass from Matey to junior Daniel Wodicka opened the drive, which later included a 10-yard Matey run and a nine-yard scoring run by Rigaud that pushed the lead to 27-0 at the half. Hopkins outgained the Randolph-Macon 342-48 in the first half alone.After a quick three-and-out by the `Jackets, a drive which sawAndy Laychur and Michael Roccasack RMC quarterback Zac Naccarato on back-to-back plays, the Blue Jays turned to freshman Brandon Cherry and junior JD Abbott to fuel a seven-play, 54-yard drive. Abbott gained 22 yards on three carries to set the Blue Jays up at the Randolph-Macon 21, where Cherry took a handoff and bounced off a would-be tackler at the 15 yard-line and raced into the end zone to make it 20-0.
The `Jackets pieced together their best drive of the game on the opening possession of the second half as Will McGhee rushed for 28 yards on nine carries and had a pair of receptions for 15 yards to account for 43 of the 70 yards on the 15-play drive and capped it with a 10-yard run to slice the deficit to 27-7.
Any momentum gained was gone less than two minutes later as Mike Zikoski sacked Naccarato for a safety to make it 29-7. A 15-play, 88-yard drive that ate nearly eight minutes off the clock in the fourth quarter put the game away for Hopkins as Abbott rushed for 44 yards on the drive and Matey connected with Wodicka from eight yards out to make it 36-7.
An eight-yard scoring pass from Naccarato to Luke Sellers on the final play of the game accounted for the final scoring.
Sophomore Hani Annabi led the way defensively for the Blue Jays as he posted 10 tackles, including 1.5 for losses and one sack, and also forced a fumble. Adam Schweyer counted 2.5 tackles for losses among his nine stops on the day and Laychur (2), Joe DiTrolio (1), Zikoski (1) and Rocca (1) all contributed to JHU’s six-sack effort.
Abbott totaled a career-high 123 yards on 15 carries to lead the 344-yard rushing effort, while Rigaud (97) and Cherry (70) combined to average better than eight yards on their 21 rushing attempts. Matey was an efficient 15-of-20 for 166 yards with the one touchdown pass to Wodicka against two interceptions. He also rushed for 28 yards on seven carries and found Wodicka 11 times for 108 yards.
In all the Blue Jays gained 510 yards of total offense and averaged 7.4 yards per play while limiting RMC to 197 yards and 3.0 yards per play. The JHU defense came up with 10 total tackles for losses.
Despite playing under constant pressure, Naccarato was 17-of-25 for 165 yards and the one TD pass to Sellers, but the Yellow Jackets’ 40 rushing attempts netted just the 32 yards and the three-touchdown run by the Blue Jays in the second quarter was more than they could overcome.
Johns Hopkins will return to action on Saturday, September 8 when the Blue Jays travel to Susquehanna for their first Centennial Conference game of the year.