Hoyas drop Patriot League opener to Lehigh, 41-14

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September 6, 2001

Coach Bob Benson rests his elbows on his knees, then gently lets his head fall into his hands. He scratches his temples, rubs his eye intensely. Finally, after what seems like an interminable silence, he raises his head and begins to speak, his Georgetown Hoyas football shirt now untucked, no longer the picture of coaching calm-within-the-storm he was moments before.

“You gotta start somewhere,” says Benson, who rescued Georgetown football from relative obscurity,” so you might as well start at the top.”

Georgetown entered into the Patriot League last Saturday with a whimper rather than a bang, but they were facing the best team the Patriot has to offer: Lehigh. Following a 41-14 thumping, including a 24-7 defecit at halftime, the Hoyas are left to re-evaluate the future of their foray into this league.

Less than two minutes into the game, Lehigh QB Brant Hall had already hooked up with his favorite target, Josh Synder, who would finish with nine receptions for 182 yards on the day. Synder hauled in this pass for 11 yards to conclude a five play, 41-yard drive. Hall finished 17 of 30 for 306 yards on the day, including a 62-yard bomb in the second quarter. Hall is widely regarded as one of the most athletic quarterbacks in the Patriot League.

“He’s extremely hard to defend,” Benson admitted.

The statistics of the game begin to tell the story. In the rush-oriented Patriot League, Lehigh racked up nine first downs on the ground as opposed to Georgetown’s one. The Mountain Hawks gained 139 net yards on the turf, as opposed to Georgetown’s dismal 31. Dawon Dicks (CAS ‘04), the primary Hoyas tailback, passed for more yards?33?than he gained on the ground?28?thanks to a trick play.

Dicks’ bomb was sharper than some of starting QB Sean Petersen’s (CAS ‘02) throws from earlier in the game, but Petersen recovered to finish 22 of 33 for 255 yards and a pair of touchdowns, getting over 20 yards out of five of his receivers. Petersen’s main rival for the position during August, David Paulus (CAS ‘03), got no time behind center, but did receive time at wideout, getting two balls thrown his way for nine yards total.

“We’ll absolutely continue to use Paulus as a wideout,” Benson said. “He’s a great athlete.”

Georgetown’s best chance to strike was entering the second half, because they had scored with two seconds remaining in the second quarter on a Petersen to Craig Agnello (CAS ‘04) touchdown pass. Unfortunately, Lehigh managed a stop on Georgetown’s first possession of the third quarter, and scored the only points of that period on a one-yard run by David Wilson.

“We had the momentum and the mindset going into the second half,” Petersen said, now clad in his warmup jersey, “but we couldn’t capitalize.”

This Saturday, the Hoyas travel to Massachusetts to collide with Holy Cross. Three years ago, it was a windswept victory against Holy Cross that set a young Hoyas team en route to prominence and a tradition as one of the top teams among the I-AA independents. Magic could strike twice.

“Trying to recover from Lehigh and going up to Holy Cross is going to be tough,” Benson said.

Benson’s head is down against his hands now, again, temples scratching, eyes rubbing. He looks up again, momentarily, at the three quarters empty Team Room 1, to the side of the Sports Information Office.

“We’re gonna win here,” he says.

And despite the setback to begin the road, you can’t help but believe him.

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