On a picture-perfect 66º fall day at Cooper FIeld, the Georgetown football team (3-3, 0-1 Patriot League) lost its third straight game of the season to the Lehigh Mountain Hawks (5-2, 2-0 Patriot League) in a 35-3 blowout.
The matchup against Lehigh was the first of six consecutive Patriot League games to close out the season for the Hoyas. With the loss, Georgetown’s postseason hopes took a serious setback, as winning the Patriot League title is likely the only way in which the Hoyas can reach the FCS playoffs. Nonetheless, Georgetown head coach Rob Sgarlata and his team are more focused on the next five Patriot League games than the one they just lost.
“I told the kids to come in [to practice] with great body language, watch the film and correct the mistakes,” Sgarlata said after the game. “Coaches have to get better and players have to get better. This is what you want. You want to play challenging opponents. You want to be in those games. And if you don’t want that, you’re in the wrong place with the wrong team. Today, we got outplayed by a better team.”
Senior quarterback Nick Shafnisky and the Lehigh offense started off the game quickly, marching down the field and connecting with junior wide receiver Gatlin Casey for a 42-yard touchdown. Casey and the high-powered passing attack gave the Georgetown defense lots of issues throughout the game, as Lehigh finished the game with 348 yards through the air. Casey accounted for 164 of those yards, and put up two touchdowns on the day. While the team was not satisfied with their defensive play, the Hoyas recognized the strength of the Lehigh’s offensive threats.
“I don’t care if you’re playing man, zone, or blitz, at a certain point a guy is going to make a play against another guy on a deep ball,” Sgarlata commented. “That’s a really talented offense. They put up 50 [points] in the last four games against four good defenses.”
In their win on Saturday, however, most of the Mountain Hawks’ 35 points came later in the second half. After an early second quarter injury for Lehigh’s Shafnisky, sophomore second-stringer Brad Mayes replaced him. On a crucial 4th and 8 from the Georgetown 37-yard line, Mayes connected with Casey for a 36-yard gain that led to a Lehigh touchdown and effectively put the game out of reach with a 21-3 deficit for the Hoyas.
“I think it’s huge [for momentum],” Sgarlata said of the fourth down conversion for Lehigh. “If you keep swinging, you can stay at 14-3 and give the offense a shorter field. But the thing that I like about our kids is that we gave up that score on that drive, and I thought that they responded and played just as hard in the series after that.”
From that play on, Lehigh had total control over the game, scoring a late third quarter and early fourth quarter touchdown to reach the final score of 35-3. Lehigh quarterback Brad Mayes finished with 19 completions on 26 attempts for 247 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception.
On the Georgetown side of the ball, sophomore quarterback Clay Norris, who has started the last two games after senior starting quarterback Tim Barnes was injured against Harvard, recorded 15 completions on 25 attempts for just 79 yards. Stagnant offensive play has been a key issue for the Hoyas in their three straight losses, but Norris emphasized that the team is looking to build on this loss.
“We had guys fight, even though the score didn’t go the way we wanted it to,” Norris said. “Guys made good plays, but we opened our eyes up to a lot of stuff we need to improve.”
The Blue & Gray will look to do just that, as they travel to the Bronx in New York to take on Fordham University (4-2, 1-0) in their second conference game.