Following a tough loss at home to Bucknell (6-1, 2-0 Patriot League), the Georgetown football team is set to face Lehigh University at home this Saturday. In a battle of teams that have yet to win a conference game, the Hoyas (2-6, 0-3 Patriot League) hope to beat the Mountain Hawks (1-6, 0-2 Patriot League) for the first time since joining the Patriot League in 2001.
To do so, Georgetown will have to start executing better down the stretch and figure out how to finish strong in close games. In each of the past two games, the Hoyas have lost by less than a touchdown and after having the ball with the chance to win in the final minutes. However, Head Coach Rob Sgarlata says the tough losses are not affecting his team’s mentality.
“We have a 24-hour rule. So whether we win or we lose we try to handle it the same way,” Sgarlata said. “I think the kids have reacted well. We had a good day on Sunday, which is usually the hardest day for them to kind of snap out of it. That’s the great thing about the Patriot League. You don’t have time to sit here and worry about it or celebrate a win or a loss because you have a game coming up the following week. We’re happy to be coming out against a good Lehigh team, and I think they’ve done a good job preparing. It hasn’t been that different from week one to be quite honest.”
Georgetown is going to have to buck the recent trends to pull out a win against Lehigh. The Hoyas have lost 13 consecutive games in the series, although there have been some close calls. Now, in a down year for the Mountain Hawks, Sgarlata’s team appears ready to finally win one.
“Two years ago we lost to them 17 – 14,” Sgarlata said. “We’ve had a good about three- or four-year stretch. When we came into the league Lehigh was at its pinnacle with Pete Lembo (COL ’91) — who’s a Georgetown alum — up there and they were really good and had gone to the playoffs a couple years. They’re an established program in the league and we’re looking forward to going up against them this Saturday.”
To beat Lehigh, Georgetown’s offense will have to step up and finish the game strong, especially if it is another close game. The Hoyas have had the ball in each of the last two weeks with the chance to win the game but were unable to score either time. However, junior quarterback Kyle Nolan is confident that his offense is more than capable of putting together a game-winning drive.
“We’ve done a good job moving the ball, just got to find a way to get in the end zone,” Nolan said. “We’ve eliminated the penalties, which has been great. It’s allowed us to keep drives going, getting us in good field position. We just have to find a way to get in the end zone.”
Another storyline to keep an eye on going into the game against Lehigh — and the remainder of the season — is senior defensive lineman Alec May’s pursuit of several conference records. With 13.5 sacks already recorded with season, May is only 2.5 sacks away from the Georgetown single season sack record and 4.5 sacks away from the Patriot League single-season sack record. With three games remaining, there is a very good chance he eclipses both of those marks. But May is not focused on any individual accomplishments he may have.
“The individual stats I’m sure at the end of the year I’ll look back and think about, but it’s not something I really focus on game to game,” May said. “It’s more about winning the game and executing plays.”
Meanwhile, Sgarlata views May’s spectacular season as a testament to the defense as a whole. The defensive line has been strong enough that teams cannot focus solely on May. The secondary, led by junior cornerback Ettian Scott, has covered receivers well enough to give May time to penetrate opposing teams’ backfields.
“If you look at that senior group on defense has been together and played a lot of football and been very good together. We’ve had a history of great players in the Patriot League … and Alec May continues that, and I know we’ve talked about [senior defensive lineman] Jordan Richardson and [senior linebacker] Nick Alfieri. I think that … any of the single-season accolades that Nick, Alec or Jordan get is really aggregate of the whole group together. I think it’s more of a group award. And Alec would say that as well. That’s the way he looks at it,” Sgarlata said.
The Hoyas will require big contributions from Nolan and May when they kick off against the Mountain Hawks at 12 p.m. at the MultiSport Facility.