Match-up: On Saturday at Noon Eastern Time the Rowan Profs (New Jersey Athletic Conference, 7-3, 6-1) will travel to Baltimore, MD to face the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays (Centennial Conference, 10-0, 9-0) in the first round of the Division-III Football playoffs. Johns Hopkins enters the playoffs ranked seventh in the latest D3Football poll, while Rowan received one vote in the latest rankings.
Coaches: Jay Accorsi is in his 13th season as head football coach at Rowan. He has a career mark of 103-38, and this will be his seventh trip to the Division-III playoffs. He has led two teams to the semifinals in the playoffs and one other to the quarterfinals. Coach Accorsi has had just one losing season in his time at the school.
Jim Margraff is in his 25th season as the Blue Jays head football coach, and has turned the Blue Jays into a national powerhouse. He owns virtually every school record for coaching, including most wins. He has a career mark of 177-82-3. Coach Margraff has 18 winning seasons at the school, and the Blue Jays have won at least 10 games in five of the last six seasons, a record of 58-10 during that time. This is his sixth NCAA playoff appearance.
The Rowan Profs are led by junior running back Withler Marcelin. Marcelin is seventh in the country with 1311 yards rushing and adds 11 rushing touchdowns and a 5.4 per carry average. At 5-10, 195 he doesn’t have the size that most coaches like in an every down back, but his 243 carries prove he can take the punishment.
Bill McCarty is a solid quarterback who gets the job done. The junior finished with 1003 yards passing in 10 games, with 8 TDs and a 54.1 completion percentage.
McCarty’s two favorite targets are Russ Forchion and Warren Ollver. Forchion has 34 catches for 383 yards and four touchdowns. Oliver added 23 more, for 226 yards and he scored twice.
The Profs have a very active defense that intercepted 19 passes and broke up 50 more. Linebacker Tyler Jenkins led the team with 78 tackles, and added 3.5 sacks, an interception and 7 pass breakups. The senior has outstanding instincts, and knows how to get into plays. Darren Dungee partners with Jenkins in the linebacking corps, and he added 77 tackles of his own and an interception. He also forced a fumble and blocked a kick. Senior defensive lineman Chris Alvarez led the team with 4 sacks.
For the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays they are led by senior quarterback Braden Anderson. The Blue Jays QB has passed for 2118 yards and 20 TDs, while completing 66.4 percent of his passes. Anderson also proved he is not afraid to run, gaining 426 yards on 45 carries with 9 touchdowns.
The ground attack is split between two primary carriers, Stuart Walters and Brandon Cherry. Walters finished the season with 651 yards on 118 rushing attempts and he scored seven times. Cherry added 468 yards of his own and six scores. Many don’t think of Johns Hopkins as a “rushing team” because they did not have any one back who had a particularly good year, but they totaled 2108 yards rushing during the season, proving they can move the ball on the ground with the best of them.
Two wide outs became the primary targets of Anderson. Bradley Munday made 45 catches for 664 yards and 6 touchdowns and he had a 14.8 yards per catch average. Quinn Donaldson made 38 catches for 644 yards, and he also had six touchdown receptions, plus he had a very impressive 16.9 yards per catch average.
Junior linebacker Keith Corliss leads the defense, recording 70 tackles, an interception, a fumble recovery and 2 pass breakups. While Corliss has been a force for the Blue Jays, sophomore defensive back Jack Toner has established himself as one of the best DBs in Division-III football. Toner has proven that he can do it all. He has recorded 53 tackles, two sacks, 3 interceptions, 7 pass breakups, 10 pass defensives, 2 forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. There is nothing he can’t do on defense, and his team may be the Blue Jays, but he is a straight up ball hawk.
Overall, this is a defense that knows how to make big plays. They had 27 total sacks during the regular season, led by Michael Longo’s 8.5, and added 15 interceptions and 10 fumble recoveries. They apply pressure and force teams into mistakes. When that happens they know how to capitalize.
Rowan: 287.7 yards per game. 21.5 points per game
Johns Hopkins: 446.2 yards per game, 40.2 points per game
Rowan: 267.0 yards per game, 13.7 points allowed per game
Johns Hopkins: 300.2 yards per game, 14.3 points allowed per game
Outlook: The Rowan Profs have an outstanding running game, and have a very dynamic group of linebackers that are active and smart. The Profs have a quality team that deserved to make the playoffs. However, the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays have the kind of team that is built for this time of year. They can play with anybody right now, and will be very tough to beat throughout the playoffs. This may be the best team Coach Margraff has assembled. Take the Blue Jays 35-17.
Tomorrow’s Previews on the Minor League Sports Report will look at:
Wheaton vs. Benedictine
John Carroll vs. Centre
Wittenberg vs. Washington & Jefferson
Mount Union vs. Adrian
By Robert Pannier