Stonehill College, a Division II football program until 2021 with a 4-5 record last year, beat the Georgetown University football team 23-20.
Entering the match Sept. 16, the Hoyas (2-1) boasted an undefeated record and were 11-point favorites over the visiting Skyhawks (2-1), who finished second-to-last in the Northeast Conference last season.
Despite the defeat at home, graduate running back Joshua Stakely continued his impressive start to the season with 105 rushing yards and vital contributions in the passing game, making 4 catches for 36 yards and 2 touchdowns during the game. Graduate quarterback Tyler Knoop also had a respectable performance, completing 19 passes for 195 yards and 3 touchdowns.
However, a head-scratching end to the game blemished Knoop’s tape on the day. Down 3 points with just a minute left, Knoop arched a beautiful pass to junior wide receiver Brock Biestek for a 37-yard gain on third down, advancing the Hoyas to the Skyhawks’ 35-yard line.
Instead of spiking the ball to stop the clock and taking a shot at an albeit difficult 47-yard field goal attempt to tie, Knoop faked a spike and attempted a pass, but Georgetown’s offensive line did not seem to be on the same page and, trying to recover, illegally blocked the Skyhawk defenders. Backed up 10 yards and now well out of field goal range, the Stonehill defense forced Knoop into a Hail Mary attempt that resulted in a sack and the game’s conclusion — an anticlimactic end to an otherwise intense contest.
On the defensive side, Georgetown recorded 1 sack, 1 broken-up pass and 1 blocked punt. The defense also achieved 6 tackles for loss, led by sophomore linebacker Naiteitei Mose with 8 tackles, including 5 solo tackles and 3 assists.
Through the first two weeks, Georgetown had the highest-ranked defense in the Football Championship Subdivision, due in part to weaker offensive opponents. Georgetown had given up just 186 total yards per game in its first two contests but allowed 175 yards passing and 173 rushing to the Skyhawks.
Head Coach Rob Sgarlata (COL ’94, GRD ’12) told GUHoyas that the team showed fight despite the tough end to the matchup.
“This afternoon was a good back-and-forth game,” Sgarlata said. “There are a number of positives and learning opportunities from this afternoon. I love how our team stayed unified throughout the game.”
The Hoya planned to attend the post-game press conference, but was informed after the defeat that the presser was canceled.
The game was chippy, with the officials calling multiple personal fouls on both sides. After Stonehill’s wide receiver Chris Domercant caught a touchdown to make it 19-13, Georgetown junior safety Kenneth Borders made a late hit and was ejected for targeting from the game. After the clock struck zero, a scuffle broke out at midfield and officials had to separate the two sides.
Despite the close score, Georgetown was never ahead. Stonehill took an early lead with a rushing touchdown from running back Jermaine Corbett. However, the Hoyas responded, tying the score 7-7 with Stakely’s 14-yard touchdown catch.
The Skyhawks managed to regain the lead with another rushing touchdown, but missed the extra point due to a block by junior defensive tackle VeRon Garrison, leaving the halftime score tied at 13-13 after Knoop’s 4-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Nick Dunneman and Georgetown’s subsequent failed extra point attempt.
“Georgetown’s special teams was lacking,” Jasper Hunsinger (SFS ’25), a fan at the game, told The Hoya. “They were unable to get back yardage on punt and kick returns, and more often than not, the offense took the field with their backs far too close to their own end zone.”
Stonehill gained momentum in the third quarter, holding possession for much of it and taking a 20-13 lead with a touchdown catch by Domercant. However, Georgetown refused to back down, answering with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Stakely, making it 20-20 at the end of the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, Stonehill secured the win with a field goal, earning a 23-20 lead with 8:44 remaining. Georgetown started to find a rhythm, driving the ball down field in an effort to pull ahead, but faced adversity when Dunneman fumbled at the Georgetown 46-yard line with 3:31 left to play.
Even then, the Hoya defense held steadfast and gave the offense another possession, but the miscommunication on the final play left the Georgetown crowd stunned as Stonehill players stormed the field in jubilation.
Stonehill will next face Georgetown’s fellow Patriot League member Fordham University (2-1). Meanwhile, the Hoyas travel to New York to face Columbia University (0-1) on Saturday, Sept. 23 at 12:30 p.m.