After suffering a 35-14 setback to Columbia, the Georgetown football team (1-2, Patriot League) will look to get back on track against Harvard this Saturday (1-1, 1-0 Ivy League). Kickoff is set for 2:00 PM at RFK Stadium.
The two teams will square off for the fourth time in four years, with Georgetown looking for its first victory in the series. The Hoya defense will look to end a two-game slide while Harvard will try to build off last week’s convincing 45-28 defeat of Brown.
Last week in New York, defensive back David Akere led the Hoyas with 11 tackles, while linebacker Cameron Seward and defensive back Ramon Lyons both chipped in with eight. This week, they will have to contend with a Harvard offense that is equally good on the ground and through the air.
When asked about how the Hoya defense will deal with Harvard’s balanced approach, Seward replied, “We’ve played plenty of teams that have great receivers, Columbia being one of them. But I have the utmost confidence in our defensive backs, and our defense as a whole, being able to get a good rush on the quarterback.”
Head Coach Rob Sgarlata agreed with Seward, calling the Harvard offense “really balanced and well-coached.” But he was also confident in his own defensive unit. “It’s really about what we’re doing, so we’re looking to eliminate some of the big plays that we gave up last weekend.”
The Hoya offense will have to make a significant adjustment as well, with junior Clay Norris replacing injured fifth-year senior Tim Barnes at quarterback. Norris, who threw for 179 yards and 2 touchdowns against Columbia, could have a field day against a Harvard secondary which has allowed nearly 300 passing yards per game thus far. However, he will have to be careful to avoid costly turnovers, as the Crimson also intercepted Brown quarterback Nicholas Duncan three times last weekend.
Norris’ teammates expressed support for their new starting quarterback. “It’s just a ‘next man up’ thing, and we have the utmost confidence in [Clay] because we’ve been practicing with him for a long time,” junior receiver Brandon Williams said.
They’re certainly playing like it. Last week, Norris and sophomore Michael Dereus connected for an 83-yard score, the third-longest pass and catch in Georgetown history. Dereus already has 14 catches for 312 yards and 3 touchdowns on the year, while Williams has contributed an additional 7 catches for 121 yards. Coach Sgarlata praised his receivers for making their quarterback’s life easier. “We have some really good pieces around [Clay], and hopefully they can support him this weekend,” he said.
There’s plenty of buzz surrounding the choice of venue, too. Players and coaches alike spoke about the significance of playing at RFK Stadium, formerly home to the National Football League’s Washington Redskins and current residence of local Major League Soccer team D.C. United.
“It’s gonna be really special from me since I’m from the area. My dad’s a big Redskins fan, and I know a lot of people around here, so there’ll be a lot of people at the game,” Williams said.
“It’s a historic stadium,” Seward added. “We’re most excited about getting all the fans and family members out there to hopefully see us get this win.”
Coach Sgarlata echoed his players’ sentiments. “Being able to go down to a stadium like RFK to make a statement about defending the District, it’s really special for us, and hopefully this is the first of many games we have down there,” he said.
“It’s gonna be a team effort, but I think we’ll be able to get the job done,” Seward said.