On Saturday, the Georgetown football team (4-4, 3-0 Patriot League) defeated defending conference champions Lehigh (1-6, 0-2 Patriot League) in an exciting 22-16 double overtime bout. This was the first time that the Hoyas had defeated Lehigh since joining the Patriot League. Though Georgetown had always been confident, many around the league are surely surprised by their 3-0 conference record, as the Hoyas were last in the preseason poll.
Still, head coach Rob Sgarlata isn’t getting too ahead of himself. “I’m not worried about winning the Patriot League. I’m worried about going downstairs and checking the injury report to get ready for Sunday,” Sgarlata said. “This is a one step at a time, one play at a time operation.”
The game got off to a quick start after Lehigh won the coin toss and deferred to receive in the second half. On the third play of the game, junior quarterback Gunther Johnson connected with junior wide receiver Michael Dereus for a 70-yard touchdown reception. Junior kicker Brad Hurst converted the PAT, and the Hoyas jumped out to a 7-0 advantage.
After the Hoyas and Mountain Hawks traded three-and-outs, Lehigh and senior quarterback Brad Mayes picked the ball up on their own 13-yard line. On 3rd and eight, Mayes matched Johnson with a deep touchdown of his own, hitting sophomore wide receiver Jorge Portorreal for an 85-yard touchdown to make it 7-6. However, sophomore defensive lineman Duval Paul blocked senior kicker Ed Mish’s PAT attempt, and helped by good blocking, sophomore linebacker Wes Bowers was able to run the ball all the way back for defensive PAT, making the score 9-6.
On the following drive, Johnson and sophomore running back Jay Tolliver were able to work their way down to Lehigh’s 24-yard line to set up a field goal attempt for Hurst. Unfortunately for Georgetown, Hurst missed the 41-yard attempt wide left. The Hoyas’ failure to take advantage of these scoring chances would continue to be a theme on the day.
However, the Georgetown defense picked up the offense, as two plays into Lehigh’s next drive, sophomore defensive back Cameron Deen intercepted Mayes and was brought down at the Lehigh 45-yard line. Georgetown and Lehigh would trade punts until the end of the quarter.
On the first drive of the second quarter, the Hoya offense was able to push their way to the Lehigh 15-yard line, but was stopped on 3rd and 10, setting up another field goal chance for Hurst. This time, junior defensive back Riley O’Neil blocked the kick for Lehigh. Two punts later, Hurst had another chance, this time a 41-yarder, but he missed wide left once more. The kicking woes seemed to be contagious, though, as with the clock running down in the first half, Mish missed a 39-yard field goal which would have tied the game at nine.
The 3rd quarter played out much like the second, with both teams failing to convert scoring chances. With about six minutes left in the quarter, Mayes’ pass to Portorreal fell incomplete on 3rd and eight on the Georgetown 23-yard line. Not wanting to risk another missed field goal, Lehigh head coach Andy Cohen decided to go for it. This proved risky still when Mayes failed to connect again on an attempt to Portorreal.
The next drive, Johnson connected twice with freshman receiver Josh Tomas, on 38-yard and 23-yard receptions, helping the Hoyas march down to Lehigh’s 16-yard line. Once again, the Mountain Hawk defense made a stop on third down, and Hurst was given another chance. For the third time, Hurst’s kick went wide left. The third quarter ended with the score still at 9-6.
Early in the fourth, with the help of 40 rushing yards from senior runningback Dom Bragalone, Lehigh made their way to Georgetown’s 10-yard line, but was stopped on 3rd and 9. This time, Cohen turned back to Mish, and Mish delivered with a 27-yard field goal, knotting the score at 9-9. Georgetown got the ball back with 3:16 remaining, and was able to get to Lehigh’s 24-yard line. Once again, the Hoyas couldn’t convert on 4th down, but Hurst had a chance to redeem himself with three seconds remaining in the game. This time, though, it wasn’t his fault, as his kick was blocked by junior defensive back Marquis Wilson, sending the game to overtime.
Georgetown got the ball first, and Johnson made quick work of this opportunity. He connected with Dereus for a 19-yard completion, and sophomore running back Jonathan Saffold punched in a 2-yard rushing touchdown. Hurst converted the PAT to make it 16-9.
On Lehigh’s turn, Georgetown looked poised to put the game to bed. Lehigh sat at 4th and 5 on Georgetown’s 20-yard line, and they had to score a touchdown to lengthen the game. However, the Hoya defense that has been so strong in conference play was bested by a 20-yard touchdown pass from Mayes to junior receiver Devon Bibbens, and the game would be sent to a second session of overtime.
This time, Lehigh started with the ball. On 3rd and eight on Georgetown’s 23-yard line, Mayes was picked off by senior defensive back Jethro Francois after the Lehigh receiver fumbled and kicked up the ball. With all the momentum on the Hoyas’ side, they were able to get the job done at last. Saffold broke out for a 22-yard rush, and then waltzed into the endzone on a 3-yard rush to secure the victory and end the game.
The Hoya defense, as previously mentioned, has been instrumental in the 3-0 start to conference play; Georgetown has given up an average of just 11 points per game.
“We’ve really been emphasizing communication, that we’ve got to talk on the field,” Francois said. “That, and energy. Energy from the sideline and on defense. When we make plays, we have fun, and now we’re having fun and everything’s coming together.”
Despite Hurst’s tough day, Sgarlata assured that the team remains confident in him. “He’s our kicker. He’s one of the best kickers in the Patriot League, but sometimes you just have off days,” said Sgarlata. “It’s really important to show Brad that we still have faith in him. He still controlled the game with his punting, and we’re going to stick with him.”
The Hoyas will try to keep their hot streak up next week when they go on the road to take on Colgate (6-0, 3-0 Patriot League). Kick off is set for 12 p.m. ET.
“Obviously we’re going to celebrate this one, but we want to keep going and keep this train rolling next week. We want to go up to New York and beat [Colgate],” Saffold said.
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