Hoyas stage comeback on historic homecoming

September 30, 2010

Every sports team has its fair share of doubters. But after Saturday’s homecoming game, you can consider the skeptics of the Georgetown football team answered. The Hoyas proved that their conference-opening win against Lafayette was no stroke of luck by beating defending Patriot League champion Holy Cross 17-7 in a dramatic fourth-quarter comeback. The win keeps the Hoyas at the top of the Patriot League standings, an astounding achievement after last year’s winless campaign.

John O’Leary caps off a thrilling homecoming win for the Hoyas with a TD. (Photo by Julianne Deno)

The Hoyas had plenty of support, as a raucous home crowd filled the stands of the football field.

“I told the guys before the ballgame we had a lot to play for,” head coach Kevin Kelly said. “It was our first home game, it was homecoming, the defending league champs, a Patriot League game. … It feels really good to finally win and win at home, too.”

But even though the defense dominated throughout the game, with the Hoyas held scoreless after the first half, their victory depended on yet another gritty, second-half comeback.

Unable to establish the run game in the first half, the Hoyas turned to their emerging star at quarterback, junior Scott Darby. Darby had one of his most well-rounded games for the Hoyas, completing 26 passes for 191 yards, and rushing for 98. He was named Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week for the second time this season.

“We had a good crowd, everyone was pretty excited,” Darby said. “Overall we fed off each other, fed off the energy of the crowd, just happy be home and win in front of the home crowd.”

The second half opened ominously for the Hoyas after Darby fumbled, which led to Holy Cross’s only score of the day following a 34-yard return and a six-play drive. The Hoyas fought back, completing two fourth-down conversions on the following drive to set up a 31-yard field goal by junior kicker Brett Weiss.

The Hoyas took the lead later in the half after Darby and senior wide out Keerome Lawrence, who had eight catches for the second straight week, led Georgetown into the red zone. They enabled senior running back Philip Oladeji to punch it in from seven yards out. On their next possession, an electric 22-yard run from Lawrence off a direct snap set up Darby to connect with junior wide receiver John O’Leary in the back of the end zone. The touchdown gave the Hoyas some breathing room and a 17-7 advantage.

Despite the offense’s second-half turnaround, the day undoubtedly belonged to the defense, which had allowed over 500 yards of total offense in each of the last two weeks. But they delivered a stalwart performance on Saturday, holding Holy Cross to just 262 yards and 5-for-16 on third down conversions.

“In previous weeks the offense had picked us up big time,” said sophomore linebacker Robert McCabe, who led the Hoyas with 7.5 tackles. “This week it was our chance to pick up the offense. That’s what makes a team, that’ll get the W’s.”

The Hoyas (3-1, 2-0 Patriot League) will look to move to 3-0 in conference play for the first time since joining Division 1-AA in 2001 when they take on Colgate this weekend in Hamilton, New York. In each of their last three games, the Hoyas have overcome slow starts by outscoring their opponents 52-20 in the second half. But Kelly said that this matchup will be the Hoyas’s toughest yet.

“As long as at the end of the ballgame we’ve got more points than they do, I have no problem with that. But against a good team like Colgate, you can’t wait till the second half,” Kelly said. “They’re picked to win the league this year. … On offense, we need to make sure every possession counts because you’re not going to get as many as you normally do.”

With the prospect of their first Patriot League title becoming a real possibility, the Hoyas will try to ride the momentum of what amounts to be their best start of the new millennium. But the toughest trials are still ahead in what is shaping up to be an exciting season for Georgetown football. It’s been a long time since anyone could say that.

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Awesome Hoya Football 3-0 baby Let’s Goooooo!!!