SELINSGROVE, Pa. – An early second-half rally by the Susquehanna football team was halted by costly miscues and a high-powered Johns Hopkins offense as the Crusaders dropped a 49-24 decision to the Blue Jays on Homecoming weekend.
SU (1-7, 1-7) put up a fight after going down 28-7 with a second-half rally that cut JHU’s (4-3, 4-2) lead to only four points (28-24), but turnovers late in the contest proved to be the Crusaders’ downfall for the second consecutive game.
Junior quarterback Matt Lottes (Muttontown, N.Y./Long Island Lutheran) made his first career start and finished with 347 yards on 28 completions with just one interception before leaving in the fourth quarter due to injury. He was sacked a total of six times in the game, however, as Johns Hopkins defense kept him under constant pressure.
The Crusaders’ passing game was in full effect, putting up 363 yards in the air with 133 of those coming from Mike Ritter (Selinsgrove, Pa./Selinsgrove Area). The junior split end caught nine passes, including a long of 34 yards.
Tight end Matt Knouse (Elliotsburg, Pa./West Perry) fell one yard shy of a 100-yard day with 99 yards on seven receptions with two of SU’s three touchdowns.
On the ground, Greg Tellish (Mount Airy, Md./South Carroll) was again the main rusher with 23 carries for 58 yards.
It was SU that took the early, 7-0 lead via a 23-yard Lottes touchdown pass to Knouse.
The Blue Jays responded with a touchdown drive of their own that took just four plays and 1:23 minutes to put together. The key in the drive was quarterback Newitt Tomlin’s 53-yard pass to Jonathan Rigaud that helped set Tomlin up for a two-yard quarterback sneak to knot it at seven-all.
That sparked a stretch of three-straight scoring possessions for Johns Hopkins. It jumped to a 14-7 JHU lead thanks to a Tomlin touchdown pass to Sam Wernick, one of Wernick’s four on the day, to cap off the first-quarter scoring.
SU quickly found itself down 28-7 early in the second quarter when Nick Fazio rushed for a two-yard touchdown.
It remained a 28-7 Blue Jays advantage until late in the first half when Lottes again connected with Knouse for a 28-yard score that made it a two-touchdown game (28-14) heading into halftime.
The Crusaders went into halftime with the momentum and continued to ride that momentum to open the second half. They scored the first points of the quarter on a 26-yard field goal off the foot of senior Bobby Eppleman (Chester Springs, Pa./Great Valley) to put a punctuation mark on a 12-play, 68-yard drive for a 28-17 score.
Johns Hopkins went three-and-out on its next two possessions to help keep SU in the game. Lottes took matters into his own hands when he rushed for an eight-yard touchdown that was made possible by his previous 34-yard connection with Ritter that marched SU into Johns Hopkins territory.
That score lit a fire in the nearly 2,000 Susquehanna fans in the stands but their elation did not last long. It took only three plays for Johns Hopkins to counter with a seven-point drive of its own that ended with yet another Tomlin to Wernick TD reception that made it 35-24.
Two more Blue Jays touchdowns essentially sealed SU’s fate, especially when Lottes went down with an injury. Rich Palazzi (Newfoundland, Pa./Wallenpaupack) took over behind center but promptly threw a pick on his first pass of the game that ultimately resulted in Johns Hopkins’ final touchdown of the game – the fourth touchdown reception by Wernick.
Defensively, SU limited the Blue Jays to only one touchdown in both the second and third quarters but were unable to stop them from putting up big numbers in the first and fourth quarters.
Jack McCarty (Westminster, Md./South Carroll) led the way on defense with 13 total tackles before leaving the game early due to injury, while Aaron Inch (Selinsgrove, Pa./Line Mountain) added seven, including one fumble recovery Teighler Doak (Selinsgrove, Pa./Selinsgrove Area) accounted for SU’s only interception of the evening.
Next game: Saturday, Oct. 30 at Gettysburg – 1 p.m.
- Saturday also marked Senior Day for the football and cheerleading programs as all members of the Class of 2011 were honored in a pre-game ceremony.
- Bobby Eppleman served as honorary captain