When the Georgetown football team (1-2, 0-0 Patriot League) traveled to Poughkeepsie, NY to play the Marist Red Foxes, they knew that they needed to turn their season around. They had struggled in their previous two games against Wagner and Dayton, posting two losses and scoring only 17 points cumulatively while allowing 44.
Thankfully for the Hoya faithful, the team that showed up on Saturday wasn’t interested in taking yet another beating. The Blue and Gray beat Marist by a resounding score of 27-7 for their first victory of the season.
“The biggest improvement, I think, from the Dayton game was that we ran the ball a little better and we definitely tackled better,” said Head Coach Rob Sgarlata. “It felt great to get a win. [It was a] good total effort, offense, defense, special teams.”
The Hoya defense had an especially big day, as the Red Foxes only gained a total of 140 yards. They managed 13 possessions, 10 of which they were forced to punt away.
Senior linebacker Nick Alfieri starred with a season high 14 tackles and an interception. He was named the Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week for the first time in his career and is ranked second in the Patriot League for tackles, averaging nearly 12 per game.
Rainy playing conditions slowed down the beginning of the game considerably. The Red Foxes were unable to move the ball downfield and turned the ball over on just their third drive. However, things weren’t much better for the Blue and Gray as they were unable to take advantage of Marist’s weak offense. The Hoyas settled for two short field goals instead of punching the ball in for touchdowns.
“We shot ourselves in the foot in the first half. The great thing for our offense is that coming out of the game we put together two 10 plus play drives,” Sgarlata said.
The second half opened the game up considerably as Georgetown was able to drive down the field on their first offensive possession of the half and score. Junior quarterback Kyle Nolan found senior wide receiver Michael Cimilluca for the game’s maiden touchdown.
With the Hoyas up 13-0, the defense went to work and stopped two promising drives with two interceptions. The first, on a play made by junior cornerback Ettian Scott, came at the end of the third quarter, deep in Hoya territory. The second interception of the half, made by sophomore defensive end Phil Novacki, broke the game open. Novacki returned the ball for a touchdown that put Georgetown up 20-0. Novacki was named a College Football Performance Awards Defensive Lineman of the Week Honorable Mention following the game.
Alfieri does not believe that the elevated level of defense that the Hoyas played has anything to do with luck or chance. Instead he’s convinced that the team is finally becoming comfortable in Sgarlata’s system.
“The defense is starting to mesh and gel and we’re all starting to trust each other,” Alfieri said.
The Red Foxes finally managed to put some points on the board, as they returned a punt for a touchdown, but again, the Blue and Gray responded strongly. Nolan drove the team down the field, ate up five minutes of game clock, and scored a rushing touchdown to seal the victory.
The Blue and Gray don’t have much time to celebrate the win, as their upcoming game against Brown (0-0, 0-0 Ivy League) this Saturday at noon is one of the toughest on their schedule. The Hoyas have lost to Brown in each of the past two seasons in blowout fashion and are looking for redemption.
“[Brown is] very well coached and they play hard,” said Sgarlata. “For us, it is a challenge. It should be an advantage for us playing in our fourth game.”
The game also coincides with the 50th anniversary of the return of competitive, intercollegiate football to Georgetown, which will see many alums returning to the Hilltop for the celebration weekend.
“It is a great reminder of the modern day era… For me, it is just another way to look at the entire history of the program,” Sgarlata, who’s been a part of the football program as a player and coach for nearly the past quarter century, said.
Along with a planned tailgate in the McDonough parking lot and a gala dinner on Saturday, the team will have a ceremony during halftime of the game on Saturday to honor General George William Casey II (F’70) and Rory F. Quirk (C’65, MA’71, L’80) for their efforts in bringing football back to the Hilltop in 1964.
The football team hopes that they can carry their momentum from last week into this weeks game. Winning against a traditional conference powerhouse in front of an excited home crowd would be an excellent way to honor a program that is now half a century old, but still struggling to stay relevant and competitive.