Slow Start Hurts Hoyas as Davidson Takes Season Opener

August 31, 2019

On Saturday, the Georgetown football team (0-1, Patriot League) dropped their season opener at Davidson (1-0, Pioneer), 27-20. It was all Wildcats from the start, as they ran out to a 20-0 lead in the first half, but the Hoyas woke up in the second half and put together a valiant comeback effort. In the end, Georgetown’s inability to get on the board in the first half doomed them. 

Senior quarterback Gunther Johnson had a solid season debut for the Blue & Gray, accumulating 134 yards on 11 for 19 passing while notching two passing touchdowns, both of which were to senior wide receiver Michael Dereus. For Davidson, senior slot receiver William Wicks, senior running back Jorrell Story, and junior running back Wesley Dugger combined for 240 of the team’s 355 rushing yards. 

Davidson started with the ball and set the tone with a 15-play, 87-yard march down the field. They got some help from two Georgetown penalties, but the drive was shouldered by Wicks, who contributed 47 yards on the ground, including a 25-yard play to get to the Georgetown 1-yard line. Junior quarterback Tyler Phelps needed only make one completion on the drive, but it was a 17-yarder to senior tight end Hunter Louthan. Dugger finished the drive off with a 1-yard rushing touchdown, and freshman kicker Chris Bonoffski converted the PAT to make it 7-0.

The Hoyas looked primed to even the score on the next drive, driving the ball down to Davidson’s 9-yard line thanks to three completions and 12 rushing yards from Johnson. After three unproductive downs with a touchdown in near sight, head coach Rob Sgarlata elected to go for it on fourth down, but Johnson was unable to make a play, turning the ball over on downs. Not missing a beat, the Davidson offense put together another impressive drive, travelling91 yards in just under six minutes of play. On the third play, Phelps connected on a 40-yard pass, and the Wildcats proceeded to run the ball relentlessly, concluding with a 3-yard rushing touchdown from Story. This time, however, Bonoffski missed the PAT, leaving the score at 13-0.

The Hoyas got the ball back and did next to nothing, before senior kicker/punter Brad Hurst boomed a school-record 76 yard punt. Like clockwork, however, Davidson punished the Hoya defense, putting together a 99-yard drive to finish out the half. They continued their recipe of relentless ground attack as Story, sophomore slot receiver Eli Turner Jr., and redshirt senior slot receiver Khaleel Shaw combined for 78 yards on the drive. Story punched in a 1-yard rush to cap it off, and Bonoffski was good to make it 20-0.

The second half was a very different story, however. Johnson stepped up immediately, connecting for a 51-yard completion to sophomore wide receiver Joshua Tomas. Johnson followed that with a 10-yard pass to get to the Davidson 5-yard line, and sophomore running back Herman Moultrie punched in a touchdown run to kick off the Hoya comeback effort. Hurst’s PAT attempt was blocked, so Sgarlata had to settle with six points.

Two plays into Davidson’s next drive, the Georgetown defense followed Johnson’s lead, as junior defensive back Cameron Deen jumped Phelps’ attempt at Georgetown’s 34-yard line. Johnson couldn’t put anything together thereafter, as the Hoyas punted after five plays, but the defense had his back again. Senior defensive lineman Marquis Parris forced a fumble from Dugger, and junior lineback Owen Kessler recovered the ball for the Hoyas. This time, the offense was able to capitalize. After three straight rushes by Moultrie III achieved a first down, Johnson rushed for eight yards then hit Dereus for a 12-yard touchdown. Hurst connected on the PAT to make it 20-13. 

The defense forced another fumble on the next drive, allowing Johnson to pick the ball up at the Davidson 4-yard line. After Moultrie III pushed the ball up to the 1-yard line, Johnson and Dereus connected again for a touchdown pass in the flats, and Hurst converted. Just like that, the game was 20-20 at the end of the third.

Both offenses struggled to begin the fourth. Davidson turned the ball over on downs, and then the Hoyas punted after three plays. On the next drive, however, the Wildcats turned back to their successful formula from the first half, as Phelps tallied 63 all-purpose yards, 30 of which were rushing. Wicks punched in a 2-yard touchdown rush, and Bonoffski was good to give Davidson a 27-20 lead with just under five minutes to go. 

The Hoyas, looking for a miracle drive, fell short. At 4th down and 2, junior running back Jackson Saffold was only able to get one yard on his rush, turning the ball over and allowing the Wildcats to run out the clock and secure the victory. 

As was to be expected, there is a lot that the Hoyas can improve upon after the first game of the year. With that being said, the third quarter outburst showed that this Georgetown team has potential. If the team can play like that with increased consistency, they will have a chance to make some noise in the Patriot League.

For now, the Hoyas will look forward to Marist (0-0, Pioneer), who they will host next Saturday for their home opener at Cooper Field. Kick-off is set for 12:30 p.m. ET. Follow @GUVoiceSports for game day updates and continuing coverage of Georgetown fall sports.


Tristan Lee
Tristan is the Voice's sports executive and a senior in Georgetown College. He mostly covers Georgetown's football, basketball, and baseball teams.

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