ALLIANCE, Ohio -- The challenge for the Johns Hopkins football team was undeniable.
On a cold, blustery Saturday afternoon in northeast Ohio and pitted against 10-time NCAA Division III champion University of Mount Union, the Blue Jays were hoping to keep it close for three quarters and then pull off the upset during the final 15 minutes.
It did not happen -- not even close.
The Purple Raiders, ignited by two early JHU turnovers and four first-half touchdown receptions by their senior wide receiver Jasper Collins, blasted the Blue Jays 55-13 at Mount Union Stadium.
Johns Hopkins (10-2), making its fourth playoff appearance under coach Jim Margraff and coming off a 42-10 win over Washington & Jefferson in the first round of the Division III tournament, believed it could snap the Purple Raiders' string of 65 straight home wins.
But Mount Union (12-0) rolled up 653 yards to Johns Hopkins' 278 yards and had the game secured at halftime.
The game's first major break came at 5:38 of the first quarter. After JHU strong safety John Arena had almost single-handedly stopped Mount Union's offense inside the Blue Jays' 5, Johns Hopkins quarterback Robbie Matey was intercepted when his intended receiver Brendan Hartman bobbled the ball and Purple Raiders linebacker Charles Dieuseul took it away in midair at the JHU 10.
On the next play, Mount quarterback Kevin Burke connected with Collins on a 10-yard scoring strike.
Matey was then picked off by Mount Union All-American strong safety Nick Driskill on the Blue Jays' ensuing possession. Driskill returned the ball to the JHU 26 and Burke capped a four-play drive with a 9-yard touchdown toss to Collins to make the score 14-0.
When Mount's Blair Skilliter polished off an eight-play, 83-yard drive with a 6-yard scoring run at 13:30 of the second period, the Purple Raiders led 21-0 and Johns Hopkins still was looking for its first first down.
The Blue Jays' search did not last much longer. Twenty seconds later, senior Jonathan Rigaud popped a 75-yard scoring run around right end and sprinted past Mount's secondary.
It marked the longest run from scrimmage against Mount Union this season and only the second rushing touchdown yielded by the Raiders in 2012. The Centennial Conference's Offensive Player of the Year, Rigaud had registered the fourth longest rush in Johns Hopkins' history to make the score 21-7.
Mount Union answered almost immediately, moving 79 yards on four plays with Burke finding Collins again on a 29-yard strike at 11:58.
That pitch-and-catch combination struck for a fourth time with 9:23 left until halftime to run the score to 34-7.
Skilliter added a third-quarter touchdown run and Collins set a Mount playoff record with his fifth touchdown reception. In three quarters, the Geneva, N.Y., product caught 12 passes for 228 yards. Burke completed 25-of-36 passes for 388 yards.
Mount reserve quarterback Roman Namdar had a fourth-quarter, 16-yard touchdown pass to Jack Nichols.
Rigaud rushed for 138 yards and one score on 25 carries to lead the JHU offense. Matey managed to complete 17-of-35 throws for 152 yards, but was intercepted three times and sacked four times.
Matey added a late 22-yard touchdown pass to Bob D'Orazio.
Notes: Johns Hopkins captain and Centennial Conference Defensive Player of the Year Taylor Maciow was injured in the Blue Jays final regular season game and missed his second tournament contest. ... JHU coach Jim Margraff completed his 23rd season and is the school's all-time winningest coach at 157-81-3. ... Mount Union began play with a plus-13 turnover margin, while Johns Hopkins came in at minus-7. The Purple Raiders were a plus-1 on Saturday. ... The Blue Jays were meeting Mount Union for the first time as well as the nation's top-ranked team for the first time.