BALTIMORE, MD — The 10th-ranked, Centennial Conference Champion and 10-0 Johns Hopkins football team will host St. John Fisher in the first round of the 2011 NCAA Division III Football Playoffs it was announced Sunday evening. This will be the first-ever meeting between Johns Hopkins and St. John Fisher and the teams shared no common opponents during the 2011 regular season. The game is scheduled for noon on Saturday, November 19 at Homewood Field.
Johns Hopkins earned the Centennial Conference’s automatic bid to the playoffs, while St. John Fisher grabbed one of the six at-large bids available to the tournament after a runner-up finish in the Empire 8 Conference. The winner of the Johns Hopkins-St. John Fisher game will play the winner of the Delaware Valley-Norwich game in the second round on Saturday, November 26. The location of that game will be announced at the conclusion of first round action.
Johns Hopkins (10-0) is making its third appearance in the NCAA Playoffs as the Blue Jays previously qualified in 2005 and 2009. The Blue Jays capped the best season in school history in 2009 with a run to the NCAA Quarterfinals. St. John Fisher (8-2) is making its fourth playoff appearance and first since 2007. The Cardinals have won at least one game in each of their three previous appearances with a trip to the NCAA Semifinals in 2006 and a quarterfinal appearance in 2007.
Johns Hopkins earned its seventh Centennial Conference championship, including its third outright title, this season. The Blue Jays will carry a school-record 15-game winning streak into Saturday’s game against the Cardinals, which will be the first home NCAA Playoff game in school history. The Blue Jays’ 15-game winning streak is the second-longest active winning streak in all divisions of college football. Only two-time defending Division III national champion Wisconsin Whitewater’s 40-game winning streak sits ahead of Johns Hopkins’ 15-game streak.
The Blue Jays enter the playoffs with a balanced team that has been effective on both sides of the ball. Johns Hopkins is currently averaging 42.6 points and 500.3 yards per game, while the Blue Jay defense has been equally strong as they have allowed just 12.1 points and 229.1 yards per game.
Senior quarterback Hewitt Tomlin leads the way offensively as he has thrown for 2,459 yards and 23 touchdowns against just five interceptions. He is completing better than 68% of his passes and topped 10,000 career passing yards in JHU’s 28-24 win over McDaniel in the final regular season game of the year.
Hopkins features a talented trio of receivers in senior Sam Wernick (71-644-8), junior Scott Cremens (49-616-9) and sophomore Dan Wodicka (75-1,162-6) and a breakaway threat at running back in junior Jonathan Rigaud (123-768-11).
On a defense full of seniors, it’s junior linebacker Taylor Maciow who leads the team in tackles with 77 to his credit entering the playoffs. Senior Kale Sweeney and junior strong safety Adam Schweyer are tied for second on the team in tackles (57) with Sweeney also topping the squad in tackles for losses (10.0) and sacks (5.0). The Blue Jay defense has allowed just 12 touchdowns in 10 games, has allowed the opposition to convert just 33-of-146 (.226) third-down opportunities and has produced 33 sacks and 19 turnovers on the year.
St. John Fisher is averaging 32.0 points and 369.4 yards per game and the Cardinals feed off junior quarterback Ryan Kramer, who has rushed for a team-high 840 yards and 12 touchdowns and thrown for 1,460 yards and 13 more scores. He has a pair of talented targets in Ryan Schmidt (61-615-5) and Ryan Francis (42-556-7). The Cardinals have turned the ball over just 13 times in 10 games and have taken over games in the second and third quarters, where they have outscored the opposition 188-94.
Defensively, the Cardinals are stingy and opportunistic as they are allowing just 319.1 yards per game and have registered 18 interceptions on the year. Dave Vosburgh is the headliner on defense for St. John Fisher as he counts team-highs of 99 tackles and 11.5 tackles for losses to his credit. The son of head coach Paul Vosburgh, he counts nearly 300 career tackles to his credit and his 99 tackles are more than 30 above the next closest player on the team.
The game will also match a pair of head coaches who rank as the all-time winningest coaches in school history. Johns Hopkins is led by Jim Margraff, whose 147 all-time victories (147-78-3) are more than double any other coach in Blue Jay history has amassed. Paul Vosburgh is in his 21st season as the head coach at St. John Fisher and sports a 118-98 record.