Football fails to overcome early deficit in home opener

September 16, 2017

In its first home game of the 2017 season, the Georgetown football team (1-1, Patriot League) fell to the Marist Red Foxes (2-1, 1-0 Pioneer League) by a score of 14-12 on Saturday afternoon.

The Hoyas were unable to muster any offensive momentum during the first half of the contest. Georgetown’s first two drives ended in three-and-outs, and senior quarterback Tim Barnes was intercepted on the team’s third offensive possession. The Hoyas finished the first quarter with only 12 yards of total offense and entered Marist territory just once before halftime.

“Starting off in the first half, we weren’t putting too many plays together,” said Barnes. “It starts with me. We’ve just got to execute better.”

Photo credit: Georgetown Sports Information

Marist began its first drive in good field position on its own 49 yard line. After a 26 yard pass completion to junior wide receiver Juston Christian, the Red Foxes had prime position on the Georgetown five yard line. An incomplete pass, rush for no yardage, and three yard pass completion presented Marist with fourth and goal from the Georgetown two yard line. On the ensuing fourth down attempt, Georgetown’s senior safety David Akere shot a gap to stop senior running back Marcellus Calhoun at the line of scrimmage, causing a turnover on downs.

“It’s really big, but it’s what’s expected,” said Georgetown Head Coach Rob Sgarlata. “Our defense has had a really good year… that’s one I expect them to come up with.”

After being stopped on the goal line, however, Marist’s offense found its groove. Starting with excellent field position at the Georgetown 40 yard line, junior quarterback Mike White led the Red Foxes down the field for its first touchdown. After Barnes’s interception again gave Marist solid field position at the Hoyas’ 36, Calhoun converted a rush from the six yard line for a touchdown to make the score 14-0 with 14:26 remaining in the second quarter.

White led the first half charge for Marist, completing 16 of 23 passes for 126 yards and a touchdown. Christian recorded five first half receptions for 56 yards.

“[Christian] is a talented player,” said Sgarlata. “He played well [last week], and he’s been a big part of their offense for two years.”

The Hoyas finally got their offense rolling near the middle of the third quarter. Starting on the 50 yard line, Barnes hit three different wideouts for completions during the drive, which culminated in a two yard touchdown run by junior running back Christian Bermudez. The extra point was blocked, causing a score of 14-6 with 7:48 remaining in the third quarter.

Seven straight completions by White on Marist’s next drive brought the Red Foxes to the fringe of the red zone. The Georgetown defense dug in on the next set of downs, forcing a 37 yard Marist field goal attempt that swung wide right and kept the deficit at one possession.

After both offenses stalled to begin the fourth quarter, Georgetown nailed the first big play of the game. Barnes hit sophomore wide receiver Mike Dereus on a deep route over the middle for a 44 yard touchdown with 4:48 remaining in the game.

“Mike ran a great route,” said Barnes. “The offensive line gave me plenty of time. I just tried to give him a chance to go make a play, and he did.”

Photo credit: Georgetown Sports Information

Trailing 14-12, the Hoyas opted to attempt a two point conversion. Georgetown was unable to convert, as the ensuing pass from Barnes failed to find Dereus in the back of the end zone.

“We just tried to throw the ball to Mike and give him a chance to go up and get the ball. We had the look we wanted,” Barnes said.

Marist’s next drive stalled near midfield, forcing a punt. Georgetown took over at its own 26 yard line with 1:06 remaining and no timeouts left, still trailing by two. A tricky hook and lateral that found Dereus’s hands ended with him being tackled at the Marist 28 yard line with no time remaining on the clock, ending the game.

The defense was a bright spot for Georgetown following last week’s solid performance in the team’s 16-10 win over the Campbell Fighting Camels. The Hoyas allowed no points in the second half and stifled Marist’s rushing attack throughout the entirety of the game, as the visitors finished with only 58 rushing yards.

“We made adjustments coming into the half,” said junior defensive back Ramon Lyons. “After that, we just buckled down and played our game.”

“Any time you can stop the run and make somebody one-dimensional, you have a shot.” said Sgarlata.

Marist finished the game with 294 yards of total offense, while Georgetown only accrued 262. The Hoyas struggled to put long drives together, converting on only five of 17 third downs. White finished with 236 yards passing and one touchdown, and Barnes tallied 217 yards passing, one touchdown, and one interception. Christian ended with seven receptions for 88 yards for Marist, while Dereus finished with five receptions for 72 yards and a touchdown for Georgetown.

The Hoyas will be back in action next Saturday at Columbia (1-0, Ivy League) in New York. Marist will host the Jacksonville Dolphins (1-1, Pioneer League) at home next weekend.

Nick Gavio
Nick is the Voice's former editorial board chair. Follow him on Twitter at @nickgavio, where he primarily retweets cute puppy videos.


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