The Hopkins football team faced off against the Randolph-Macon College Yellow Jackets on Thursday, Sept. 5. It was the debut of new coach Greg Chimera, who was given the position after the tragic passing of longtime coach Jim Margraff.
Sophomore wide receiver Harrison Wellmann spoke about playing the first game of the season. “It felt great to just get back onto the field and play against another opponent that counts toward our record… I was just glad I could be on the field with my teammates again,” he said.
The game began well for Coach Chimera and the Blue Jays. The Yellow Jackets were forced to punt the ball away after a 20-yard drive. Hopkins, on the other hand, made the absolute most of their first drive. Eight minutes, 17 plays and 86 yards later, the Blue Jays scored the first touchdown of the game when senior quarterback David Tammaro connected with junior tight end Stephen Gervasi. Hopkins then forced the Yellow Jackets to punt the ball away again after accumulating -4 yards on their second drive.
Wellmann commented on the team’s offensive performance and recognized that there is plenty of room for the unit to improve moving forward. “I think that, for the first game of the season, the goal is to play as hard as you can for all 60 minutes and I believe we did that as a team. Going back and watching the film, we showed glimpses of how good we can be as an offense,” he said.
The second quarter did not go as well for the visiting Blue Jays. With 10 minutes left in the first half, the Yellow Jackets intercepted Tammaro’s pass. Randolph-Macon was able to convert that interception into a field goal after a 46-yard drive, bringing the score to 7-3.
On the next drive senior running back Dane Rogerson fumbled the ball on the Hopkins 30-yard line. Fortunately the Blue Jays were able to stop the drive with 22 seconds left in the half, and the halftime score remained 7-3.
To begin the second half, both teams traded field goals on 60-yard drives, and with 7:36 left in the quarter, the score was 10-6. The remainder of the third quarter was scoreless. However, the fourth quarter was far more eventful. Junior linebacker Ryan Weed intercepted a Randolph-Macon pass within the first few minutes of the quarter and ran it back to the Yellow Jackets’ seven-yard line. After a three-yard rush by Rogerson, Tammaro threw a four-yard pass to Wellmann for the touchdown. Hopkins was now up 17-6 with 14 minutes left in the game.
The next possession, Hopkins scored another interception, this time by sophomore defensive back Ross Andersson, at the Blue Jays’ one-yard line. After a disappointing drive, the Yellow Jackets got the ball back and they were able to score their first touchdown of the game. The Blue Jays were able to prevent Randolph-Macon from successfully converting a two-point conversion, leaving the score at 17-12.
With five minutes remaining in the game, sophomore defensive back Nick Seidel intercepted a Randolph-Macon pass to give the offense a chance to put the game out of reach for the Jackets. Although Hopkins couldn’t convert his interception into a touchdown, the Blue Jay defense continued its strong performance, as junior defensive back Macauley Kilbane was able to get another interception for Hopkins with a minute left of play to formally seal the game. The final score remained 17-12, and Hopkins pulled off the victory thanks to both key offensive plays and ruthless defensive pressure.
After this great start to the season, Wellmann spoke about the team’s mindset looking forward to the rest of the year. “We have a lot of stuff to clean up before we play Susquehanna at home on Saturday,” he said. “This next week we’re going to work extremely hard to fix those minor mistakes we were making and ultimately come back stronger and smarter… Right now the goal is to take it one game at a time and focus on our opponent for the week. But I believe in the back of everyone’s minds, it’s to win a national championship, and we all know we have the potential to go as far as we did last year… It’s just a matter of how we’re going to come together as a team and execute.”
As Wellmann said, the Blue Jays will play the Susquehanna University River Hawks at Homewood Field on Saturday, Sept. 14.