Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Blue and Gray Prepares for Clash With Big Red

Eight passing yards. One hundred sixty-five yards of total offense. Forty-nine yards’ worth of penalties. Eleven punts.

And a victory?

In what has become something of a trend for the Hoyas, Georgetown football did just enough to emerge victorious from last Saturday’s game against Duquesne.

This week’s opponent, however, will demand a better performance from the Hoyas.

Saturday’s contest pits Georgetown (3-3, 1-2 Patriot) against its second Ivy League foe of the season, the Cornell Big Red (2-2, 1-1). Combine last week’s impressive 27-13 home win against No. 20 Harvard with an undefeated home record and the inevitable highs of a homecoming game, and Georgetown can certainly plan on a Cornell squad full of confidence and momentum.

Consider for a moment that Harvard beat Holy Cross by 10 – a team that defeated the Hoyas by 42 points. Also consider that the Crimson downed Brown by a field goal just a week after the Bears beat the Hoyas 35-3. Now add to the equation that Harvard lost to Cornell by two touchdowns. After doing the math, it might seem that the Hoyas shouldn’t even bother making the trip to Ithaca, N.Y.

But as the Hoyas can attest after Saturday’s gritty victory, statistics and numbers carry underwhelming significance.

Despite Cornell’s impressive resume, Georgetown Head Coach Bob Benson seemed indifferent. “We just need a great work week,” he said. “We have to take it a game at a time and worry about ourselves.”

Passing the ball will be a chief concern for the Hoyas on Saturday, and they may have to rely on someone other than starter Nick Cangelosi to right their ship. After suffering a foot injury in the Duquesne game, Cangelosi spent Tuesday’s practice in a boot on the sidelines. Benson was uncertain as to the junior quarterback’s status for the upcoming game against Cornell.

Benson was nevertheless adamant about making the passing game right. “If we don’t balance out the offense,” he said, “It’s going to be a long day.”

Cangelosi may not be the only piece of the passing puzzle to have caught the injury bug. Senior tight end Glenn Castergine, last year’s second leading receiver, has been limited by injuries to just three receptions on the year. Top wide out Kyle Van Fleet, a sophomore, has also been plagued by nagging injuries. Eight of Georgetown’s offensive starters, including four offensive linemen, were unable to practice on Tuesday. To have any chance on Saturday, the Hoyas will need to get healthy.

Georgetown’s defense, however, looked as strong as ever against Duquesne. The Hoya defensive units allowed just seven points in the overtime contest. Linebacker Medhi Hassan and fullback Jason Carter, both seniors, notched an interception each, and Senior defensive end Michael Ononibaku had his second straight standout performance. He tallied 13 tackles, three of them for a loss, and two sacks.

“These guys have been playing together for a long time,” Benson said of his defense. “They are starting to gel. [This week] they need to turn the ball over, make more plays and set up field position.”

Cornell’s offense, like that of the Hoyas, relies primarily on the ground attack. Running back Luke Siwula, just a sophomore, has amassed 488 yards and five touchdowns in only four games. Quarterback Ryan Kuhn has done his part, too, averaging over 70 rushing yards per game with three touchdowns. The Big Red has run the ball into the end zone nine times, while its opponents have accomplished the feat just thrice.

In the air, Kuhn is much more suspect. Playing in four games, the sizeable senior has thrown five interceptions and just one touchdown – Cornell’s only passing TD in 2005. Brian Romney, a senior wide out, has done most of the receiving duties, grabbing 14 balls for 141 yards. A second-team all-Ivy selection in 2004, Romney is regarded as one of the Ivy League’s top big-play threats.

According to Benson, the key to victory, as always, is to stop the run. But the coach added that Cornell runs trick plays from time to time and that he is counting on his defense to be ready.

The Cornell defense, despite having allowed 91 points in just four games, is a formidable one. Led by senior safety Kevin Rex (50 tackles, a sack and two interceptions), the Big Red has forced eight fumbles, sacked the opposing quarterback seven times and held its opponents to a solid 145 rushing yards. Coming off of 477 total yards against a ranked Lehigh team, Harvard managed just 226 total yards against Cornell

The numbers aren’t necessarily pretty. The statistics are hardly gaudy. But as Benson and his squad could tell you, football games are won not on paper, but on the field. Games are decided not by common opponents or national rankings, but by effort, heart, skill and a lot of luck.

This Saturday at 1 p.m. on Cornell’s Schoellkopf Field, Georgetown will look to set aside the numbers, ignore the statistics and play a full 60 minutes of solid, hard-fought football. If they can do that, then the only numbers that matter – those on the scoreboard – could very well favor the Hoyas.

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