After a commanding home victory over Randolph-Macon College on Aug. 30, the Hopkins football team hit the road on Saturday, Sept. 8 to kick off its Conference schedule against the Susquehanna University River Hawks. The Blue Jays were undefeated against the River Hawks since the latter joined the Centennial Conference in 2010 and looked to add to this unblemished record. However, they ran into an opponent that was keen to rewrite history.
Hopkins opened the scoring in the first quarter, as junior running back Hogan Irwin carried the ball in for a three-yard touchdown. However, Susquehanna quickly responded, as wide receiver Mikah Christian recorded a 51-yard touchdown reception to knot the score up at seven apiece.
The back and forth scoring pattern continued into the second quarter. Senior tight end Patrick Maloney caught the first touchdown of the quarter, splitting the defense and finding his way into the end zone for an impressive 37-yard score.
Following the game, Maloney discussed the touchdown, which was his first of the season.
“I’d say it was just a combination of a good play call and a good read and throw by [junior quarterback] Dave [Tammaro],” Maloney said.
After Maloney’s score, the River Hawks came right back with a one-yard touchdown run from quarterback Michael Ruisch. Irwin then ran the ball in for a two-yard score, but Susquehanna was able to tie the game ahead of halftime, thanks to a one-yard run from junior running back Torey Brown.
Blue Jay senior running back Stuart Walters broke the 21-21 tie early in the second quarter with a three-yard rushing touchdown, but once again, Hopkins’ lead was short-lived. Susquehanna’s running back Aaron Speight pushed the score to 28-all, carrying the ball into the end zone from one yard out.
At this point, the River Hawks, who had been forced to play catch-up throughout the entire game, finally caught a break. A miscue on a Blue Jay punt snap led to a safety and gave Susquehanna their first lead at 30-28. They then extended their lead early in the fourth quarter on Brown’s second one-yard rushing touchdown of the game. Hopkins, now trailing 37-28, was able to narrow the deficit on an eight-yard touchdown catch from sophomore wide receiver Ryan Hubley. However, the team’s comeback ultimately fell short. The Blue Jays were unsuccessful on a go-ahead field goal attempt with 24 seconds remaining in the game, and the River Hawks came away with a 37-35 victory.
The game’s offensive leaders were Hopkins’ Tammaro with 272 passing yards, Hopkins’ Walters with 137 rushing yards and Susquehanna wide receiver Mitch Carsley with 101 receiving yards.
On defense, freshman linebacker Robert Fletcher, senior defensive back Michael Curry and senior safety Ian Lodge led the way for Hopkins with nine tackles apiece. Sophomore defensive back Macauley Kilbane recorded eight tackles of his own, as well as a forced fumble. For Susquehanna, linebacker Connor Thompson finished with a team high of 13 tackles, defensive back Ricky Reyes had the game’s lone interception and defensive lineman Kashief Hyatt recorded a game high of 1.5 sacks.
Hopkins, now 1-1 overall and 0-1 in Centennial play, faces an uphill battle to stay in contention for what is always a neck-and-neck battle for the Conference Championship. However, the players remain focused and are confident that they can bounce back.
Maloney commented on the team’s mindset going forward.
“Obviously 0-1 isn’t where we want to be in the Conference, but we know that we’ve got a lot of talented players, so we just need to have a focused week of practice,” Maloney said.
The Blue Jays will look to rebound and get back in the win column this Saturday, Sept. 15, when they visit the 2-0 Moravian College Greyhounds.