After dominating Davidson last Saturday, the Georgetown football team will kick off their conference slate by playing host to Patriot League foe Lafayette in another evening game this Saturday.
In their opening contest, the Blue and Gray controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball, holding the Wildcats to negative yardage on the ground and constantly causing pressure in the backfield.
“It was a great win,” Head Coach Kevin Kelly said. “[It was] a good way to start the season. Good things in all three phases.”
Kelly acknowledged that his team did make mistakes, however, and that Lafayette will be ready to capitalize if they are repeated.
“Some mechanical errors on offense, offsides, penalties — things like that. We had a couple blowncoverages on defense, on special teams we had some substitution errors,” Kelly said. “Little things like that, that when you play a real good football team, they can catch up to you”.
After beginning the 2010 season with a similar victory over Davidson in North Carolina, the Hoyas went to Easton, Pa., where they defeated the Leopards 28-24 in their first league victory since 2007. The Blue and Gray will attempt to repeat that feat on Saturday.
And while Lafayette was trounced this past weekend by 11th ranked North Dakota State, 42–6, the Leopards were chosen to finish fourth in the Patriot League Preseason Poll — one spot ahead of the Hoyas — and will be a tough test for the up-and-coming Georgetown squad.
“Lafayette will be real hungry coming in here,” Kelly said. “So we are going to have an angry football team on our hands.”
Lafayette is more talented than Davidson on both sides of the ball, making them a more challenging foe in a game that carries greater significance for both programs.
“They are big upfront on both sides of the ball. They are a physical football team,” Kelly said. “That is the transition we are going to have to make, especially on defense.”
Because of this, the Hoyas have spent the week focusing on a game plan to combat their physical opponent, and the players are prepared for the challenge.
“We know the competition coming in is going to be a lot better,” said senior linebacker and special teams captain Nate Zimmel. “So we have to one-up our performance all across the board on offense, defense and special teams.”
On offense, the Leopards feature a dangerous quarterback in senior Ryan O’Neil, who managed to complete 15 of 20 passes for 144 yards and a touchdown despite constant pressure from the North Dakota State defense.
O’Neil’s biggest weapons are seasoned senior receivers Kyle Hayes and Mitchell Bennett, who combined for over 70 receptions and nearly 1000 receiving yards last season. Seniors Scott Biel and Anthony Buffolino — two second team all-Patriot League honorees in 2010 — anchor the offensive line.
The Lafayette defense, led by senior lineman Mike Grimaldi, senior linebacker Ben Eaton and senior defensive backs Evan McGovern, Kyle Simmons, and Brandon Ellis, also poses a challenge for Georgetown.
“They are a lot bigger up front than Davidson. Their linebackers, too,” junior quarterback Isaiah Kempf said. “They have a solid secondary. Their whole defense is really seasoned. They are almost all seniors so they will know what they are doing with their schemes,” he said.
Sophomore running back Nick Campanella, who ran for 82 yards and three touchdowns last weekend, voiced many of the same concerns as his coach and quarterback.
‘They are a lot more physical than Davidson, so they are going to be a different type of challenge on D,” Campanella said.
But if the Hoyas can successfully employ a strategy similar to the one used against the Wildcats, in which they controlled the run while containing the pass, the Blue and Gray could very well walk away with another victory.
“We have a lot of matchups we like. Especially with the way Nick ran the ball last game, we have a really good running attack, especially with our other quick guys,” Kelly said. “I think we can definitely do some damage that way.”
Either way, the Hoyas are excited to get their Patriot League season underway.
“We are ready to show the conference what we’ve got,” Campanella said. “As long as we get a W on the board, we will be happy.”
Kickoff is 6 p.m. Saturday evening at the MultiSport Facility.