On a gray, dreary day at the Hilltop, Georgetown football (2-7, 0-4 Patriot League) hosted Lehigh (2-6, 1-2 Patriot League) in a conference contest, dropping a close 27-19 decision to the visiting Mountain Hawks. Both teams were seeking their first win in the Patriot League this season.
The Hoyas received the ball on the opening kickoff, but they were unable to move the ball at all, as junior quarterback Kyle Nolan was sacked for a nine-yard loss by Mountain Hawks senior defensive linemen Tim Newton and sophomore T.J. Stubbs on third down. Newton was a thorn in the Hoyas’ side for the entire game, consistently breaking through the Georgetown offensive line and causing Nolan to flee the pocket.
Lehigh moved the ball quickly down the field on its opening possession, using an up-tempo offense to catch the Georgetown defense off guard. Mountain Hawks sophomore quarterback Nick Shafnisky presented a new challenge for the Hoyas defense, as he was the most mobile quarterback the team had faced this season. He finished 17-of-26 for 345 yards and two touchdowns, all while posing a constant rushing threat.
“That kid is a really great dual-threat quarterback and is probably one of the best we’ve seen, especially with his feet,” senior linebacker Nick Alfieri said of Shafnisky.
The Lehigh drive was stalled at the Georgetown six-yard line after Shafnisky overthrew a pass to senior tight end Tyler Coyle in the end zone, but the Mountain Hawks still took a 3-0 lead on a field goal from sophomore kicker Ryan Pandy.
Alfieri had a huge game for the Hoyas, and he was key in containing Shafnisky in the running game. The senior linebacker amassed 18 total tackles and had a half of a sack as well. In the first quarter, Alfieri surpassed the 300-tackle mark in his career, joining Robert McCabe (407) and Nick Parrish (349) as the only players in Georgetown program history with more than 300 tackles.
Lehigh got the ball right back when Georgetown senior running back Daniel Wright fumbled the ensuing kickoff. Coach Rob Sgarlata called the play, “maybe the worst [type of] play in football,” after the game. Three minutes later, Shafnisky found freshman wide receiver Troy Pelletier in the end zone for a Lehigh touchdown. The Georgetown secondary struggled to stop the physically imposing receiver, who finished the game with seven catches for 187 yards and that one touchdown. The 6-foot, 3-inch target made a big play whenever Lehigh needed one. The Hoyas offense could not do much to keep up with the Mountain Hawks, mustering just a field goal in the first half as Lehigh went into the locker room with a 13-3 lead.
Georgetown had a chance to score with 1:19 left in the half and the ball at the Lehigh 43-yard line, but sophomore Henry Darmstadter’s field goal attempt was blocked by Lehigh freshman cornerback Quentin Jones.
Nolan and the Hoya offense finally found their groove in the fourth quarter. Nolan was masterful in avoiding pressure and extending plays to give the team a chance to come back. The quarterback scrambled to the Lehigh 1-yard line after seeing no open receivers and junior running back Jo’el Kimpela scored on the next play.
The score was 20-11 after Darmstadter’s extra point kick was blocked by freshman defensive lineman Tyler Cavenas. Head Coach Rob Sgarlata had plenty of praise for his quarterback after the game.
“Kyle’s a competitor, he’s very physically talented and I really think he’s come into his own as a leader,” Sgarlata said. “I think he’s really coming into his own for us as a leader for the offense.”
Lehigh came right back to score a touchdown, but Georgetown then matched with a Kyle Nolan rushing score. After a successful two-point conversion, the score would stay at 27-19, as the Hoyas shot themselves in the foot with two huge holding penalties that negated two big plays by Nolan.
“You can’t get to the last drive and have a holding penalty. Kyle Nolan created out of nothing two huge plays down the field and we have two holding penalties. It’s those things that kill you,” Sgarlata said.
The Hoyas will have to figure things out quickly, as they travel to the best team in the Patriot League this year, the Fordham Rams (8-1, 4-0 Patriot League), after a bye week. Alfieri discussed the importance of the off week in allowing Georgetown time to recuperate and prepare for the next game.
“I think it’s nice to have a bye, to regroup and recover and get ready for this next game against Fordham. It’s always good to get an extra time off and rest,” Alfieri said. “It’s a long season, we’ve had nine games and we’re going to appreciate the bye week and be smart with it.”