COLLEGEVILLE, Pa. – Trailing by three scores entering the fourth quarter of Saturday's Centennial Conference clash with No. 18 Johns Hopkins, the Ursinus College football team's upset plans were on life support.
A few drives later, it seemed that the Bears were destined to deliver a magical moment for the second straight home game against the perennial power from Baltimore. Ultimately, an incredible rally fell a few plays short as the Blue Jays escaped with a 32-29 thriller.
Ursinus (3-2, 2-2) found itself down 32-13 after Hopkins completed a 95-yard march late in the third quarter, but Thomas Garlick and the offense came to life in the last frame. The senior became the program's all-time leader with his 44th career touchdown pass, a 1-yard completion to Alex Lunn that, combined with Samuel Ragland's two-point run, sliced the margin to 32-21 with 12:27 to go.
After forcing a Blue Jays punt, Garlick guided the Bears 94 yards in 13 plays, picking up two third-and-nine completions to Ardashes Dulgerian along the way and plowing in from five yards out. With a two-point conversion pass to Ragland in close quarters, it was just a three-point game with 4:28 to go.
Hopkins was ready to salt the game away after a 15-yard penalty moved the ball to the Bears' 25, but a personal foul put the visitors in third-and-long and Brett Gross sacked quarterback David Tammaro to force a punt.
Taking over at its own 17 with 1:54 remaining, Garlick was sacked twice to end the Bears' comeback dreams.
Tammaro threw for 234 yards and a pair of first-quarter touchdowns to Harrison Wellmann, staking the Blue Jays to a quick 13-0 lead. But the Ursinus defense adjusted, holding high-powered Hopkins to just seven points after halftime and limiting Tammaro to a 16-of-31 completion rate.
Garlick sprinted down the right sideline for 43 yards during a 70-yard drive to open the Bears' scoring, with Ragland plunging in from a yard out for his 30th career rushing TD. A blocked punt eventually set the Blue Jays up with a short field en route to a 20-7 lead, and Mike Eberle's 43-yard field goal made it 23-7 with 2:28 to go until half.
The Bears, however, went 75 yards in 11 plays, one of them a fourth-down conversion on a keeper by Garlick, and trimmed the deficit to ten on the senior's 15-yard strike to Ragland. But the extra-point try was blocked, and the Blue Jays returned it the length of the field for their own 2-pointer and went into the locker room with a 25-13 lead.
The teams traded several empty possessions in the third until Hopkins marched 80 yards in 13 plays and grabbed a 32-13 lead on Luke Yakely's 1-yard rushing TD late in the period.
Garlick finished 15-of-32 for 168 yards and two touchdowns, breaking the previous record held by Frank Vecchio since 2000. He also racked up 107 rushing yards, going over 100 yards on the ground for the second consecutive contest.
Ragland was his typical dynamic self, posting 114 rushing yards and a touchdown and adding seven catches for 76 yards and a score.
Lunn's touchdown catch was the first of his career.
Following a week off for fall break, Ursinus continues a brutal October stretch of three consecutive games against ranked opponents with a Friday night showdown at No. 8 Muhlenberg on October 17.