LANCASTER, Pa. -- A.J. Albert intercepted John Harrison’s two point conversion pass in the waning moments of the fourth quarter to seal a 26-25 Johns Hopkins win over Franklin & Marshall in Centennial Conference (CC) football action on Saturday. The Diplomats (4-5, 3-4 CC) gambled in playing for the win and lost, however, they recovered the onsides kick with 27 seconds left in the game for another crack. With F&M working without the aid of any timeouts, Hopkins (7-2, 5-2 CC) closed the door on the Diplomats after three plays, tackling Ryan Murray on the Jay’s 41-yardline leading to the expiration of the clock.
Hopkins never trailed during the contest, getting on the board late in the first quarter when Andrew Kase plunged in from a yard out for the first of his two touchdowns in the game. The back rushed for 85 yards on 22 carries. His third score from two-yards out marked the first time this season an opponent scored on Sponaugle-Williamson Field. It also gave Hopkins a 20-13 lead.
F&M responded quickly with backup quarterback Mark Mellinger, who went in on a designed run from 14 yards out. The Diplomats went for two but failed to convert on a Harrison to Jay Ridinger pass under the goalposts, keeping it 20-19 in favor of the Jays. Hopkins answered right back, with Tucker Michaels catching a six-yard pass from Tyler Porco, but the Jays missed the extra-point, keeping F&M within a score. It was Michels’ second touchdown of the game. He went in from 48 yards out on a pass Hewitt Tomlin early in the second quarter.
The Diplomats methodically marched 80-yards on 17 plays, chewing up 8:28 of the 8:55 that remained after Michel’s score before Harrison found Ridinger on a similar play to the first failed two point conversion, setting up the second ill-fated try for two.
On that play, Harrison had plenty time but no receivers in his
sight. He dipped into Ridinger’s well once more, but Albert
stepped in front of the forced desperation pass to decide the
Harrison threw for 207 yards and three touchdowns, including a 55-yard toss to Jarrell Diggs that tied the game at 7-7 early in the second quarter. The freshman went 23-34 on the day. Matt Jenschke caught a seven-yard touchdown pass late in the second quarter to knot it at 13-13. Hopkins’ Glenn Rocca blocked the PAT attempt. Harrsion threw another touchdown pass to Alan Williams’ who scored from 34-yards out, only to see it called back on a holding flag.
Penalties were a problem for both teams with the Diplomats being set back 62 yards on seven flags. The Jays lost 77 yards on six penalties, however four were personal fouls resulting in automatic first downs, including a critical penalty that turned a fourth and nine sack into a Diplomats first down on F&M’s final scoring drive.
The Jays worked three sacks in the game, piling up 18 yards of losses for F&M. Kale Sweeney was responsible for two-thirds of the sacks, amongst his three tackles for losses of 13 yards. He had 10 total tackles and a pass breakup in the game. Chris Baldwin led all tacklers with 11 stops (seven solo). Shane Gray led all F&M tacklers with eight tackles, four of which were solo.
Tomlin threw for 210 yards and a score on 14 completions in his 24 attempts. Michels caught eight passes for 133 yards and his pair of scores for JHU.
F&M returns to the gridiron next weekend at Gettysburg for the final contest of the season. F&M needs the win to close the year at .500,