Monday, November 28, 2016

College Football: Johns Hopkins Football Falls to Mt. Union, 28-21

JHU hosted Mt. Union on Saturday at Homewood Field (photo / Tom Flynn)
Baltimore - While most area college football fans were at home watching the Ohio State vs. Michigan game on Saturday, some 1,100 others made it to Homewood Field to see the Johns Hopkins Blue Jays face the Mt. Union Purple Raiders in the NCAA Division III playoffs. The Blue Jays entered the game at 11-0 while the Purple Raiders arrived from Ohio bearing a 10-1 mark.

By 3:00 pm, both teams had identical 11-1 records as Mount Union topped Hopkins, 28-21. The home team led 21-7 at the half before the Purple Raiders put up three unanswered scores in the second half to claim the victory.

Mount Union advances to the Division III quarterfinals for the 25th consecutive year, while JHU concluded their sixth consecutive season of qualifying for the NCAA playoffs. The Purple Raiders will face Alfred (12-0) this Saturday on the road.

Baltimore's historic Homewood Field (photo / Tom Flynn)

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Southland: Abilene & ACU Challenge for Tracktown Honors


ACU T&F's Rosen Daniel (photo / ACU Athletics for ASN)
It's hard to argue that Eugene, Oregon merits the moniker of Tracktown, USA given its place as the home of the University of Oregon track program and its storied Hayward Field.

Still, with the ascent of Abilene Christian University (ACU) to full NCAA Division I status in the next academic year, a case could be made for its West Texas hometown challenging the leader on the Left Coast. In a recent article for the American Sports Network, I wrote of some of the merits of Abilene and its own considerable history in the sport. - TF

NAIA: Perennial Iowa Power Morningside in Quarterfinals Saturday

The Morningside Mustangs advance (photo / Morningside)
Morningside College is located in Sioux City, Iowa and is a consistent power in the small college football ranks of the NAIA. Prior to the start of the current campaign we caught up with Steve Ryan, the Mustangs' head coach, who heading into the season had a lifetime mark of 132-37 in Sioux City after 14 seasons. 

In his first season at Morningside in 2002, he led his team to a 5-5 mark, snapping a string of 15 straight losing seasons at the college. His very first game was a double-overtime victory over the NCAA DII's Wayne State College.

This Saturday, the 10-1 Mustangs face Saint Francis (Indiana) in Fort Wayne, Indiana in the quarterfinals of the NAIA's 2016 playoffs. 

The interview was conducted via email and edited for clarity. - TF

Fieldhouse: How would you describe your offensive scheme?

Ryan: We're a multiple formation uptempo football team. We try and run as few plays as we can get away with from as many different formations as possible.

Fieldhouse: What is your greatest challenge each August in terms of developing players/units. In my experience, the offensive line is one of the toughest parts of a team to get to work together cohesively, and I was wondering what your experience is there. 

Ryan: I believe that one of the greatest challenges a small college coach has is to figure out is what each of his players can be really good at, fit them into that role, and get them to believe that the most satisfying experience they can have playing college athletics is to be great at their role. 

The building of a team is always the greatest and most rewarding challenge.

Fieldhouse: Describe where you practice, how a preseason summer practice goes, and what is a final, optimal roster size for Morningside. 

Ryan: We practice on our game field every day. We use a one practice a day, then two practices, then back to one practice a day format. We will practice mid-morning and mid-afternoon on field turf. I think it's hot but our guys handle it really well.

We are a fast-paced offense so we practice fast. Most practices are two hours or less. We practice exceptionally well and we get a lot accomplished in those two hours. 

Our optimal size would be between 110-115 players. 

Fieldhouse: What is a characteristic of a Morningside team under your direction that you try to cultivate?

Ryan: We really try and cultivate a team-first mentality on our football team. We do a lot of activities and spend a lot of time working on "team." I believe the consistency of success that we've been able to enjoy over a long period of time is due to the way our players practice together, help coach each other, and work as a unit in practice. 

Fieldhouse: Describe a little of your playing experience.

Ryan: I played football, basketball, and ran track in high school like so many men my age who grew up in small towns in the Midwest. I then played linebacker for four years at Wheaton College (Illinois) and played overseas in Europe for a couple years after graduating from college.

Quarterback Trent Solsma (photo / Morningside)

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Johns Hopkins Football Wins Playoff Opener

JHU's Homewood Field (photo / T. Flynn)
Baltimore - The Johns Hopkins Blue Jays' football team won its NCAA playoff opener against Randolph-Macon on Saturday, 42-21. The #6 Blue Jays will host #8 Mount Union this Saturday at noon in round two of the playoffs.

Hopkins moved out to a 21-0 first quarter lead and held that margin throughout most of the game. Randolph-Macon (9-2) closed the gap to 14 points at times in the second half, but the Yellow Jackets could draw no nearer after Hopkins' gained the initial three-touchdown advantage.

Senior quarterback Jon Germano passed for 418 yards and four touchdowns, including two to sophomore wide out Luke McFadden. McFadden caught 11 passes for 222 yards on the afternoon.

Mount Union will arrive in Baltimore with a 10-1 mark that includes last week's opening round playoff victory against Hobart. The Purple Raiders are the reigning DIII national champions after defeating Wisconsin-Whitewater in the annual Stagg Bowl on December 18, 2015. Mount Union and Wisconsin-Whitewater have combined to win the last 11 Division III titles.

Johns Hopkins facing Randolph-Macon (photo / T. Flynn)

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

College Lacrosse: Hopkins Sets Early Games

(photo - Daniel Kucin, Jr. / Icon Sportswire)
Baltimore - Johns Hopkins men's lacrosse, coming off an 8-7 mark in 2016, will host Denver in a scrimmage at Homewood Field on January 28 followed by the Georgetown Hoyas on February 3/4.

The last time Bill Tierney's Pioneers traveled east to Homewood to start their season, in January 2015, they went on to capture the national championship on Memorial Day to conclude it. The Hoyas will look to bounce back from a disappointing 2016 campaign that saw them go 2-12 after a 10-6 season in 2015.

The Blue Jays have yet to release their 2017 regular season schedule, but it is expected to include traditional non-conference foes Navy and Loyola Maryland, in addition to their Big-Ten schedule.


Saturday, November 5, 2016

Navy Beats Notre Dame in Jacksonville, 28-27





Jacksonville, Fl. - Senior Quarterback Will Worth connected on a critical fourth down pass to split end Jamir Tillman that helped Navy run out the game clock and beat Notre Dame today at EverBank Field, 28-27. The Irish had won the last five contests against the Midshipmen.

Worth began the year as the backup to fellow senior Tago Smith. When Smith was lost to injury in week one, Worth stepped in and has played effective football to lead Navy to a 6-2 overall mark. On Saturday he ran for 175 yards and two touchdowns to pace a Midshipmen attack that churned out 320 net rushing yards.

The win makes the Mids bowl-eligible for the season, and they are currently slated for the Armed Forces Bowl in Dallas-Fort Worth on December 23.

They remain in competition for the bid to the Cotton Bowl as the top-ranked team of the Group of Five Conferences (American Athletic, MAC, Mountain West, Sun Belt, Conference-USA). Should they earn the nod as the Group of Five representative, that would preempt the Armed Forces Bowl bid. The Mids two losses have come to Air Force (6-3) and USF (7-2).

Another Western State Adds Varsity Lacrosse

For several years I've contributed lacrosse articles to the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA).  This week I w...