W&L Football Falls at No. 7 Hobart in the NCAA Playoffs, 38-20
GENEVA, N.Y. – Seventh-ranked Hobart College controlled the ball for nearly 37 minutes and held Washington and Lee to a season-low 188 rushing yards in producing a 38-20 victory in the first round of the NCAA Division III football playoffs on Saturday afternoon at Boswell Field.
W&L (8-3) opened the game with an 11-play, 77-yard drive that resulted in a 2-yard touchdown run by senior running back Luke Heinsohn (Charlottesville, Va./Covenant) for a 7-0 lead just 4:33 into the game. Hobart responded with a 17-play, 66-yard drive that ate 7:14 off the game clock and tied the game at 7-7 with 3:09 left in the first quarter. Running back Steven Webb capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run.
The Statesmen (11-0) forced a 3-and-out on the Generals' next possession and then reeled off a 12-play, 56-yard drive that ended with a 3-yard touchdown run by running back Bobby Dougherty for a 14-0 lead at 9:23 of the second quarter.
The Generals knotted the game at 14-14 with 4:32 left in the half when junior quarterback Nick Lombardo (Duluth, Ga./Peachtree Ridge) scored on a 5-yard touchdown run, the 11th play of the 73 yard drive. However, that's when the game shifted as Hobart held the ball for the next 32 offensive plays and 11:52 of game time.
The Statesmen made it a 21-14 game with four seconds left in the first half when they marched 70 yards on 15 plays, with Webb scoring on a 1-yard touchdown run on a fourth and goal. Hobart then took the opening kick of the second half and produced a 17-play, 60-yard drive that ended with a 25-yard field goal by James Hull for a 24-14 lead.
The Generals ran 11 plays on their next possession, but gained just 25 yards and failed on a fourth down attempt from the Hobart 44-yardline. The Statesmen scored seven plays later on a 3-yard touchdown run by Webb for a 31-14 lead with 14:31 left in the game.
W&L cut it to 31-20 on a 9-yard touchdown pass from Lombardo to senior tight end Eli Chester (Cumming, Ga. / North Forsyth) with 10:20 left in the game, but a couple of late turnovers and a 15-yard touchdown run by Hobart quarterback Nick Strang on a 4th-and-1 with 3:08 remaining thwarted any comeback attempt.
W&L gained a season-low 238 yards of total offense on just 55 plays in the game. Heinsohn led the Generals with 85 yards and one touchdown on 14 carries. He finishes his career with a school-record 3,517 yards and a school-record 344 points.
Senior running back Sasha Vandalov (Vienna, Va./James Madison) gained 45 yards on 11 carries and senior running back Brett Murray (Lookout Mountain, Tenn./Baylor School) totaled 112 all-purpose yards, including 42 yards rushing. He finishes his career fourth all-time at W&L with 5,135 all-purpose yards.
Lombardo added 16 yards and a touchdown rushing and completed 4-of-8 passes for 50 yards and a touchdown, finishing the season with 1,010 yards rushing. Senior linebacker Stephen Peck (Grosse Pointe, Mich./Cranbrook-Kingswood) and senior safety Jake Pelton (Charlottesville, Va./Monticello) paced the defense as each posted a career-high 19 tackles in the contest.
Hobart amassed 378 total yards, including 282 yards on the ground. Webb tallied 99 yards and three scores on 21 carries, while Dougherty had 81 yards and one touchdown on 17 carries. Strang completed 10-of-21 passes for 96 yards and rushed eight times for 44 yards and one touchdown. Linebacker Andrew Klindera led the Statesmen defense with 11 tackles.
Washington and Lee finished the campaign with its third straight 8-win season and second trip to the NCAA playoffs in the last three years. Hobart advances to the second round where it will likely play host to Wittenberg.