ALLIANCE, OH - Top-ranked Mount Union scored touchdowns on back-to-back possessions after Johns Hopkins turnovers late in the first quarter and the Purple Raiders never looked back in 55-13 victory over the 15th-ranked Blue Jays in the second round of the NCAA Playoffs at Mount Union Stadium Saturday afternoon. The win sends Mount Union (12-0) into the NCAA Quarterfinals, while Johns Hopkins sees its season end at 10-2.
A lot of things needed to go right for the Blue Jays in their matchup with the Purple Raiders (12-0), but the two early turnovers and the deadly combination of sophomore quarterback Kevin Burke and senior wide receiver Jasper Collins was more than Hopkins could handle.
Burke hooked up with Collins for touchdowns five times, including strikes of 10 and nine yards on the two possessions after JHU's early turnovers to stake MU to 14-0 lead late in the first quarter. The Blue Jay defense had stopped Mount Union inside its five-yard line, but the Raiders turned a bobbled pass on JHU's ensuing possession into an interception and Burke hit Collins on the next play to make it 7-0.
A Nick Driskill interception on JHU's first play of its next possession turned into another quick score as Burke connected with Collins again - this time from nine yards out - to account for the 14-0 lead.
That lead held until early in the second quarter, when a six-yard touchdown run by Brian Skilliter capped an eight-play, 83-yard touchdown drive for Mount Union that ignited a scoring spree that saw the teams combine for 27 points in just over four minutes.
Johns Hopkins senior Jonathan Rigaud answered Skilliter's run with a 75-yard touchdown run of his own that trimmed the deficit to 21-7 with 13:10 remaining in the second quarter. Rigaud's run is the fourth-longest in Johns Hopkins history and the longest against the Mount Union this season. The longest previous run against the Purple Raiders this season had been 22 yards.
Any momentum gained from Rigaud's touchdown run was gone less than four minutes later as Burke and Collins hooked up twice more before the second quarter was six minutes old.
The Raiders needed just four plays and 67 seconds to go 79 yards after Rigaud's touchdown with Burke connecting with Collins from 29 yards out to make it 34-7. A nine-yard strike just over two minutes later made it 34-7 with that score holding through halftime.
"Coming in you hope to play well, not turn the ball over and stay close until the second half," Johns Hopkins head coach Jim Margraff noted in the post-game press conference. "You've got to be perfect and they need to help you out and that didn't happen today."
Mount Union took any second-half drama out of the game in the first 10 minutes of the third quarter as the Raiders needed just 2:50 to go 57 yards on the opening possession before Skilliter went over from one-yard out and the Burke-to-Collins connection polished off its day with a 45-yard touchdown play with 5:25 remaining in the third.
The teams traded fourth-quarter touchdowns with Roman Namdar hitting Jack Nicholls from 16-yards out for Mount Union and Robbie Matey floating a 22-yard touchdown pass to Bob D'Orazio in the back corner of the end zone for the Blue Jays.
Burke was 25-of-36 for 388 yards and a career-high-tying five touchdown passes, all of which went to Collins, who had 12 receptions for 228 yards and the five scores. Chris Denton added 125 yards on nine receptions for the Purple Raiders, who rolled up 653 yards of total offense in the victory.
Rigaud paced the Blue Jays with 138 yards and the one touchdown. His 138 yards rushing are the most by an opponent against Mount Union since the 2010 National Championship game. Mount Union entered the game allowing an average of just 37.4 yards per game on the ground.
"They have a very good defense; very fast and physical," Rigaud stated. "I tried to be patient and we did what we could, but they are a very good team."
Matey was 17-of-35 for 152 yards with the one touchdown and three interceptions. Seven of his completions went to junior Dan Wodicka, while D'Orazio added five receptions for 53 yards and the one score.