Fourth Quarter Collapse Dooms Football in Loss at Bucknell

November 16, 2019

Photo by John Picker/The Georgetown Voice

On Saturday, the Georgetown Hoyas football team, looking to right the ship on their season, fell short in a 20-17 loss at Bucknell. The Hoyas (5-5, 1-4 Patriot League) held a 17-6 lead going into the fourth quarter, when their defense, which has been the team’s strength all year, seemingly fell apart, allowing for a furious Bison comeback. Senior quarterback Gunther Johnson threw for 118 yards and a passing touchdown for the Hoyas, while junior quarterback Logan Bitkofer had a passing touchdown for Bucknell (3-7, 3-2 Patriot League).

After struggling in the previous two games, Georgetown’s defense returned to form to start Saturday’s game, as Bucknell was unable to notch a single first down in the first quarter. On the Hoyas’ second possession, Johnson orchestrated an efficient drive to the endzone that concluded with a 3-yard touchdown pass to sophomore receiver Josh Tomas. With a 7-0 lead, Georgetown Head Coach Rob Sgarlata made an aggressive decision, calling for an onside kick. The Hoyas recovered, vindicating the decision, but just moments later it went to waste when junior running back Jackson Saffold fumbled at the Bucknell 44-yard line. Bucknell’s freshman cornerback Gavin Pringle picked up the ball and evaded all Hoyas en route to a 56-yard fumble recovery touchdown. However, the PAT attempt was blocked, preserving a slim 7-6 lead for the Hoyas.

Early in the second quarter, the Hoyas were able to get some breathing room. Senior kicker Brad Hurst split the uprights on a 23-yard field goal, increasing the lead to 10-6. This time, it was junior quarterback Joe Brunell who led the offense into scoring position. The Hoyas offense struggled for the rest of the half, but the defense continued its dominance. Bucknell did not notch a first down until there were under three minutes left in the half, and finished the half with just 37 yards of offense.

After Georgetown received the ball to open the second half, they were unable to capitalize on their first drive. On Bucknell’s following drive, however, the defense would once again step up. On third and one, junior defensive back Jonathan Honore intercepted a Bitkofer pass and returned it to the Bucknell 39. A 16-yard pass from Johnson to Tomas helped the Hoyas progress, and Stakely finished off the drive with a 15-yard rushing touchdown. Hurst’s perfect PAT kick made it 17-6. 

Less than a minute into the fourth quarter, Bucknell special teams made a big play, blocking Hurst’s punt attempt. With great field position, it didn’t take long for the Bucknell offense to make its first splash, as Bitikofer completed a 16-yard pass before senior running back Chad Freshnock punched in a 3-yard rushing touchdown. Though the two-point conversion attempt failed, the touchdown made it 17-12 and was enough to give the Bison some momentum. The Hoyas went three-and-out on the next drive, and the Bison offense came roaring back. Following a 15-yard rush by Freshnock, Bitikofer unloaded a 45-yard touchdown pass to sophomore receiver Dominic Lyles. This time, the Bisons would convert the two-point attempt, giving Bucknell a 20-17 and a 14-point swing in a matter of four minutes. 

At this point, the Hoyas had apparently run out of gas. Johnson was intercepted on the following drive and the offense was never able to put together a scoring effort for the rest of the game. 

Georgetown will conclude its 2019 season next Saturday with a game at Holy Cross (6-5, 4-1 Patriot League). The game will kickoff at 1 p.m. ET with a stream available on Stadium. Live stats are available at Follow @GUVoiceSports on Twitter for coverage and continuing coverage of fall sports at Georgetown.

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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