By ANDREW JOHNSON
As has been the case for much of the last three seasons, the dominance of the Hopkins football team has become almost routine. It often seems like an explosive offensive performance coupled with a strangling defensive presence is a foregone conclusion when the Jays take the field each and every week during the regular season, regardless of the opponent or the atmosphere.
This was the case once again this past Saturday, as the Jays trekked north to Gettysburg and vanquished the Bullets by a final line of 36-7. With the win, the Jays improved to 7-0 on the season, including a sparkling 6-0 in the Centennial Conference.
The Bullets fell to a respectable 5-2 on the season, with a 4-2 mark in the conference. The win pushed the Jays’ undefeated regular season streak to a remarkable 28 games, meaning that Hopkins has not suffered a regular season defeat in two and a half years.
The Jays raced out to a 22-0 halftime lead on the backs of standout offensive performances from their usual slate of playmakers.
On the opening drive of the game, junior quarterback Jonathan Germano hit receiver Quinn Donaldson for a huge 46-yard completion.
The 70-yard drive was capped off when Germano took the snap and raced up the middle for a three yard touchdown keeper.
A touchdown scamper from senior running back senior Brandon Cherry would increase the margin to 13-0, while the defense stifled the prolific Bullets’s attack to the tune of three punts and three forced turnovers in Gettysburg’s first six possessions.
Hopkins would capitalize on those errors, turning them into nine second-quarter points. Standout senior linebacker Keith Corliss stepped in front of a pass and set up the Jays with great starting field position at the Bullets’s own 32-yard line. A one-yard run by the dynamic Cherry would increase the Hopkins lead to 19-0 late in the first half.
Hopkins would expand their lead in the second half on the backs of a strong rushing attack led by Cherry and junior Stuart Walters. Hopkins totaled 430 yards of total offense, which included 250 on the ground.
Cherry powered his way through the Bullets defense to the tune of 119 yards and two touchdowns while Walters added 83 yards and a touchdown of his own. Junior quarterback Jonathan Germano completed 21-33 passes for 180 yards and a touchdown while also toting an additional 44 yards and a score on the ground.
Despite the Bullets’s average of 477 yards per game, the Hopkins defense held the vaunted Bullets offense to only 321 yards while only surrendering a single touchdown. The Jays were paced by standout junior linebacker Jack Campbell, who finished with a career-high 15 total tackles in the contest. Perhaps more significantly, Campbell also added a half sack and one-and-a-half tackles for loss while recovering two fumbles and forcing another. When asked to comment on the victory, Campbell focused on the importance of forcing turnovers, which had been a vital part of preparation in the days leading up to the game.
“Our coaching staff really emphasizes creating turnovers in practice and to come up with five was really big for us,” Campbell said. “I thought we played with great intensity from the start and kept it going the entire game. The main focus going into the game was everyone doing their job against the triple-option offense, which can make you pay for small mistakes. We executed our game plan, and came up with some huge turnovers for a really solid performance.”
Another standout defensive performer was the previously mentioned Keith Corliss, whose critical second-quarter interception enabled the Jays to blow the game open late in the second half. His 11 tackles in the contest gave him 207 for his career, a truly impressive mark. When asked to discuss the defense’s resounding success against a high-powered foe, Corliss credited the coaches for instilling an excellent game plan and the overall focus of the team.
“Early in the week, our coaching staff looked at the film and put together a game plan that we practiced all week,” Corliss said. “I think all year, and especially these last couple weeks, we’ve been really focused at practice and have done a good job at preparing for the offenses we are going to see. The scout team gives a great look which is really important so we get a game-like feel every day, which makes the game a lot easier to adjust to. We’ve been able to make in-game adjustments to things we’re seeing, so it really just comes down to everyone doing their job and communicating.”
The Blue Jays will look to continue their dominance next week, when they host the Ursinus College Bears on Homewood Field at 1 p.m. on Oct. 31.