Division-III Football Playoffs: Round 2 Preview: Johns Hopkins vs. Hobart
Match-Up: On Saturday at noon Eastern Time the Hobart College Statesmen will take on the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays in the second round of the NCAA Division-III Football playoffs. Johns Hopkins had finished seventh in the final regular season D3Football poll, while Hobart was ninth.
How They Got Here:
The Hobart Statesman are now 11-0 after defeating the Ithaca Bombers 22-15 this last Saturday. The Statesmen offense struggled for much of the day on Saturday as Patrick Conlan and Conner Hartigan combined for 115 yards on the ground, but just 3.1 yards per carry each. Conlan scored twice, and he also had 201 yards passing, but threw 3 interceptions.
Hobart trailed the entire game until the last 12 seconds of the contest, when the Statesmen went 72-yards in 14-plays in 5:02 to take the lead. Conlan went up the middle from 1-yard out to give Hobart the lead, which capped off a dramatic comeback that saw the Statesmen down 15-7 early in the fourth quarter, before rallying for 15 unanswered points. The Statesmen won despite being -4 in turnovers.
It was a battle of odds vs. evens for the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays. They scored 14-points in the opening quarter, only to give up 10 in the second quarter. They responded with 10 of their own in the third, then gave up 6 in the fourth to hold on for the 24-16 win.
Braden Anderson’s two first quarter touchdown passes staked the team to the early 14-0 lead. The Blue Jays QB finished with 286 yards passing and 3 touchdowns. Quinn Donaldson made 7-receptions for 105 yards and 2 scores.
The Johns Hopkins Blue Jays are led by their QB and a dynamic duo of receivers. Anderson has now thrown for 2404 yards and 23 touchdowns, with just 7 picks, despite the 3 he threw on Saturday. Bradley Munday and Quinn Donaldson have 101 catches between them for 1490 total yards and 14 touchdowns. The two complement each other well and pose some matchup challenges for most defenses.
One aspect that is overlooked about this offense is the outstanding play of their offensive line. With no one back gaining even 700 yards, they are overlooked, but the Blue Jays put up 2284 yards on the ground through 11 games, and have only allowed 7 sacks. This is a solid group that is among the counties elite.
These numbers are some key ones for the defense: 28 and 31. The Blue Jays defense has 28 turnovers and 31 sacks. Those are great numbers. They had 4 sacks against Rowan, and really create pressure that forces bad decisions. Linebacker Keith Corliss continues to disrupt offenses in a variety of ways, especially in the way he covers backs and tight ends. Jack Toner is a ball hawk in that secondary and Michael Longo knows how to chase down quarterbacks (10 sacks).
The Statesmen offense is a solid group, led by Conlan. He is mainly a pocket passer but, as the game against Ithica proved, he can run as need be. He has passed for 1801 yards and 13 touchdowns this season. The Hobart running game is much like the Blue Jays in that they have several players who get to carry the ball, and together they have combined for 2500 yards rushing this season.
Junior ILB Jacob Stanley continues to be a beast, making 10 tackles this last Saturday to give him 75 on the season. Along wtih Trayvon Toney, they combine to make one of the most fearsome inside linebacker combinations in the country, combining for 4.5 sacks, 147 tackles, an interception, 6 pass breakups, and 5 forced fumbles. Marcus Jemison and Tyre Coleman are as good a tandem of pass rushers as there are (20 combined sacks), and Todd Collier is a solid cornerback.
The defense gets after the quarterback, making 36 sacks on the season. However, they only produced 8 interceptions and recovered 6 fumbles.
Two similar offenses and two defenses that can attack the quarterback will face off on Saturday. The two are both ranked in the top-10, meaning either one has the skill to win this game. While the Hobart Statesmen can attack the quarterback well, this is an outstanding offensive line for the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays that just doesn’t allow sacks. The Statesmen also don’t create enough takeaways, while the Blue Jays defense is able to do so on a regular basis. Look for the Blue Jays to make a statement.
By Robert Pannier