The Georgetown University football team (3-0, Patriot League) picked up another close win on Saturday against Columbia University (0-2, Ivy League) in the Hoyas’ annual homecoming game by a score of 17-14.
In addition to the importance of winning a homecoming game with countless alumni and current students in the stands, the Georgetown victory over Columbia gave the Hoyas the right to hoist the Lou Little Trophy for the second straight year, an annual tradition which started in 2015.
The trophy honors College Football Hall of Fame Head Coach Lou Little, who coached at both Georgetown and Columbia, starting in 1924 and 1930 respectively, and represents the storied past of both programs. Georgetown will retain the trophy until next year’s matchup.
The homecoming matchup also had some added meaning to a number of Hoyas on both the football and cheerleading teams, who decided to make a statement by kneeling during the National Anthem. In total, 10 football players and 17 of the 19 cheerleaders at the game kneeled. The decision comes amid the controversy sparked by San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who chose to kneel during the singing of the Star Spangled Banner during a preseason game in response to ongoing racial injustice in the United States.
The Voice will have a follow-up piece to take a closer look at this decision made by members of the Georgetown football and cheerleading teams, which can be viewed below.
Multiple Hoyas on both the football and cheerleading teams are making a statement by kneeling during the National Anthem pic.twitter.com/jvYmVGSNUd
— Voice Sports (@GUVoiceSports) September 24, 2016
Once Saturday’s game started, it was a tough, and at some points ugly, defensive battle, but the Hoyas initially had total control of the game. Senior quarterback Tim Barnes opened up the game with a 44-yard touchdown pass to freshman wide receiver Michael Dereus less than three minutes into the game. The deep pass to Dereus capped off a seven play, 70-yard drive for the Hoyas, giving them a 7-0 lead and immediate momentum.
“I just put it out there,” Barnes said of the throw to Dereus. “Coach told me all week to try to out-throw them. Mike [Dereus] had his man beat by five yards, so I just threw it as far as I could.”
The Blue and Gray offense remained quiet for much of the half after the opening touchdown, but did convert a field goal off a forced turnover at the end of the first quarter thanks to senior kicker Henry Darmstadter, making it 10-0 as the quarter closed. Later in the half, a 22-yard punt return by junior running back Alex Valles gave the Hoyas a short field, and Barnes capitalized off of it with a 9-yard rushing touchdown which put Georgetown up 17-0 as the half ended.
While Georgetown dominated the first half, especially in the field position battle, the second half was almost a complete reversal, as Columbia flipped the field position in their favor and had all the momentum for much of the third and fourth quarters.
“[The battle for field position] was awful,” head coach Rob Sgarlata said. “It was really tough. But like I told the kids in the locker room after the game, the sign of a tough team is one that doesn’t play great and still wins close games.”
The third quarter was particularly difficult for the Hoyas, who started with the ball from within their own 20-yard-line a total of five times, one of which was from their own 1-yard-line. The Columbia offense was able to capitalize off this field position after an early touchdown drive made it 17-7 and put the Lions right back in the football game. The rest of the quarter was a battle between the punters, seniors Harry McCollum of Georgetown and Matthew Panton of Columbia, who punted four and three times respectively in the third quarter alone, with all of McCollum’s punts occurring deep in Georgetown territory.
McCollum’s excellent punting play, often from within Georgetown’s own end zone, was not enough to stop the Lions from picking up another touchdown early in the fourth quarter, when junior quarterback Anders Hill punched it in on a nine-yard rush, bringing the game within three points for Columbia with a score of 17-14, with Georgetown in the lead.
The Georgetown defense and special teams stepped up in the fourth quarter in response to Columbia’s second touchdown and did not allow the Lions to score another point. However, whether Georgetown could hang on for a win or not was unclear until sophomore linebacker J’V’on forced a fumble on a punt that was recovered by Georgetown with 2:45 left to play. From there, the Hoyas were able to wind down the clock and close out the game with a third consecutive victory.
“I was really proud of how the kids played the fourth quarter,” Sgarlata said. “They played their tails off in the fourth, and that’s how they got the win.”
Georgetown has a quick turnaround this week, as they travel to Cambridge, Massachusetts to take on Harvard University (2-0, 1-0 Ivy League) on Friday night. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:00pm.