HOPKINSSPORTS.COM Sophomore quarterback David Tammaro completed 23 of 50 passes.
The Hopkins football team’s season came to an end in heartbreaking fashion in the first round of the NCAA playoffs.
The Blue Jays fell to the Washington & Jefferson University Presidents on a 46-yard field goal with just 57 seconds left on the clock to give the Presidents a 31-28 win in Washington, Pa.
After an interception and a fumble ended the first drives by the Presidents and the Blue Jays, respectively, the Presidents would capitalize off the turnover by putting together a seven play, 45-yard drive orchestrated by quarterback Alex Rowse.
Rowse would put Washington & Jefferson’s first points on the board with a 16-yard pass to wide receiver Jesse Zubik to give the Presidents a 7-0 lead.
The Blue Jays would strike back on their next drive as sophomore defensive back Patrick Kelly took the ensuing kickoff 61 yards to put Hopkins at the Presidents’ 25-yard line.
Washington & Jefferson’s defense would allow the Blue Jays’ offense just three yards on three plays to force Hopkins to turn to senior kicker Jamie Sullivan, who knocked in a 39-yard field goal to move the game to 7-3.
Attempting to catch the W&J kickoff return team off guard, the Blue Jays attempted an onside kick that bounced into the hands of a President to give the home team the ball on the Hopkins 47.
Rowse’s offense used 10 plays to move the ball into the end zone, with running back Jordan West punching the ball in from two yards out to extend the W&J lead to 11.
Both teams would exchange punts to give Hopkins possession at the start of the second quarter.
The Blue Jays took over from their own 20-yard line and moved the ball deep into President territory.
Sophomore quarterback David Tammaro would gain 16 yards on a run before linking up with junior wide receiver Luke McFadden for a 27-yard gain.
Hopkins would get the ball as deep as the Presidents’ eight-yard line. However, they would be forced to kick once again, with Sullivan putting the 25-yard kick through the uprights and putting the score at 14-6.
Both defenses responded strongly, as the remaining 11:36 of the second quarter went scoreless. The Presidents headed into the locker room at the half holding a 14-6 lead.
Defensive performances on both sides would remain strong as the second half began, with neither offense able to put any points on the board.
That would change midway through the third quarter, however, as senior defensive back Michael Munday intercepted Rowse’s pass in the end zone to give the Jays the ball on their own 20-yard line.
Hopkins would use a strong rushing attack catalyzed by senior Ryan Cary as well as a double pass that let senior wide receiver Brett Caggiano find Cary downfield for a 29-yard gain to get the ball to the Presidents’ two.
Tammaro would then find the end zone the next play and follow it up with another rush to effectively execute the two-point conversion to tie the game up at 14, all with less than five minutes left in the third quarter.
Washington & Jefferson would get the last laugh in the third quarter as West gained eight, 46 and five yards on three straight carries to get the ball all the way down to the Hopkins nine-yard line. Rowse eventually found wide receiver Cody Hearst in the end zone as the Presidents reclaimed the lead 21-14.
The Blue Jays would retake possession with just eight seconds left in the third, leaning heavily on the arm of Tammaro.
The sophomore would complete six of his eight throws for 57 yards in the 74-yard drive, including a touchdown pass from 10 yards away to Caggiano, as Hopkins once again tied the game, this time at 21-21.
The Jays would continue to stay hot. On the first play of the Presidents’ ensuing drive, junior safety Michael Curry would pick off Rowse’s pass to give the Blue Jays the ball back at their own 38-yard line.
Cary would reel in a 29-yard heave from Tammaro along with rushes of five and seven yards before junior running back Tyler Messinger found a crease in the W&J defense. From 21 yards out, Messinger found his way to the endline, giving the Blue Jays their first lead of the game at 28-21.
Washington & Jefferson would not allow Hopkins to enjoy their lead for long, however, as they put together a seven-play, 68-yard drive capped off with Rowse once again finding Zubik from 12 yards away. The Presidents tied the ballgame once again, this time at 28.
The deciding drive of the game came as the Presidents took over with 4:22 left on the clock from their own 30. W&J drove the ball to the Hopkins 29-yard line, leaving the Presidents with a potential 46-yard field goal from kicker Maurico Garibay, who had made just one of three attempts during the regular season.
Garibay’s kick sailed through the air and eventually hit off of the crossbar and through the uprights to give Washington & Jefferson the deciding three-point lead as the Presidents escaped with the 31-28 victory.
“The game didn’t go the way that we wanted it to, but our team never stopped fighting, and we gave W&J a run for their money,” sophomore defensive lineman Weston Brantner said.
He emphasized how grateful the team is for the impact the senior class has made throughout their careers. Next season’s team will need to step up to fill in the leadership positions the seniors this year held.
“We will all miss the character and the talent that this year’s senior class gave to the program, but their impeccable leadership over the years has laid the foundation that we hope to build off of as we prepare for next season,” Brantner said.
Rowse completed 36 of his 61 passes for 391 yards and three touchdowns as well as three interceptions. Defensive back Cole Weston’s 22 carries gained him 124 on the ground, and three President receivers would crack the 100-yard mark.
Zubik tallied 114 yards and two TDs, junior Brandon Barnes gained 103 yards, and Hearst barely passed the 100-yard mark with 101 recorded yards to go along with his touchdown. Defensively, Presidents’ linebacker Dalton Day would lead the team with 16 tackles, and defensive end Tom Marra finished with four sacks.
Tammaro completed 23 of 50 passes for 236 yards and a score along with two picks, 50 yards rushing and a TD on the ground. Cary would gain 64 yards rushing and 92 yards receiving, along with Caggiano’s seven catches for 83 yards and a touchdown. On the defensive end, freshman defensive back Macauley Kilbane led the team with 10 total tackles, and Curry contributed two interceptions.
Sophomore defensive end Arman Koul reflected on this year’s season.
“The way we dealt with adversity this season was phenomenal and I couldn’t be prouder. It’s really sad to see the seniors leave, but the legacy they’re leaving on the program is something that I personally will never forget,” Koul said.
Hopkins finishes their season at 9-2, and Washington & Jefferson’s 11-1 season ended in the second round of the playoffs with a 46-23 loss to Frostburg State University.