A week after a tough loss at Yale, the Georgetown football team (3-1, 1-0 Patriot League) rebounded by crushing Marist (1-3) 52-28 on the back of a sublime performance by senior quarterback Scott Darby.
Coming off the bench in place of junior quarterback Isaiah Kempf, who started for the Hoyas in the first three games before sustaining an injury in New Haven last weekend, Darby was quick out of the gate en route to a performance that earned him Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week honors.
“I was very happy for [Scott],” Head Coach Kevin Kelly said. “I wasn’t surprised that he played well; he is an excellent quarterback.”
The senior connected with junior slot receiver Max Waizenegger on a 39-yard touchdown pass to cap a 10-play, 80-yard opening drive. After junior defensive back Jeremy Moore sacked Marist quarterback Tommy Reilly for a loss of 9 yards, the Hoyas got the ball back. After a solid drive, however, sophomore running back Nick Campanella fumbled to return the ball to the Red Foxes.
The Georgetown defense stepped up again, forcing a three-and-out on Marist’s next possession. After gaining solid field position thanks to a 24-yard return by freshman slot receiver Kevin Macari, Darby led another scoring drive, this one capped by a 13-yard touchdown run. Senior kicker Brett Weiss, who made all seven of his PAT kicks on the day, sent the ball through the uprights to put the Hoyas even further in front, 14-0.
Marist showed a bit of life in the second quarter. Senior running back Ryan Dinnebeil narrowed the score to one touchdown with two plays where he rushed for a combined 16 yards into the end zone.
The Blue and Gray offense struck back quickly, as sophomore running back Brandon Durham took a handoff 64 yards to the end zone on the third play of the drive, giving Georgetown a 21-7 lead with 12:12 left in the first half.
Junior linebacker Robert McCabe intercepted Reilly’s pass on Marist’s next drive, and Georgetown led 28-7 after Campanella made amends for his earlier fumble by punching it into the endzone from five yards out.
Despite a punishing Hoya defense led by senior defensive end Andrew Schaetzke — who earned a conference honorable mention after recording 9 tackles and 2 sacks in the game — the Red Foxes cut the deficit to two scores when Reilly tossed an 18-yard touchdown pass. The score would remain 28-14 through halftime, and it was more of the same for the offense and defense after the intermission ended.
With Georgetown winning the field position battle — something Kelly emphasized after special teams contributed to the Yale loss — Moore managed to pick off Reilly’s pass on Marist’s first drive of the second half and return it 38 yards to the Marist 12, where Darby connected with Waizenegger for the junior’s second score of the game.
“[Waizenegger] is better this year, because he is a year older [and he] understands the offense better,” Kelly said. “He is doing the little things and details better. He’s a good player [who] plays well with both quarterbacks.”
The next drives for both teams were fruitless, after Reilly’s pass was incomplete on fourth down and Darby threw an interception. But Marist found enough to score when Reilly connected on a 75-yard pass to cut the lead to 35-21.
A series of long passes by Darby, ending in a 19-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Jeremiah Kayal, put the Hoyas back up 42-21 to end the third quarter. The Red Foxes answered with another touchdown, this one capped by a 5-yard pass by Reilly, but Georgetown had an insurmountable lead.
Darby finished 18-of-22 passing on the day, totaling 211 yards. His completion rate of 81.8 percent was the highest single-game total in Georgetown history.
Kempf, who sat out the game after his injury at the beginning of the third quarter at Yale, is recovering and should be ready for Saturday’s game.
“Kempf is fine,” Kelly said. “[He is back to] practicing with [the] team.”
While the Blue and Gray’s next drive ended with a punt, senior defensive back Wayne Heimuli intercepted Reilly’s pass and returned it 28 yards to the Marist 21, where Darby connected to Macari to put Georgetown up, 49-28.
The Red Foxes could not finish on their two garbage time drives, but a series of short rushes by Durham set the Hoyas up for a Weiss field goal attempt that sailed through the uprights to provide the final score, 52-28.
Darby’s impressive performance and chemistry with Waizenegger coupled with the strength of the Blue and Gray’s defense, led by Schaetzke and Heimuli, seems to have breathed new life into Georgetown’s hopes in the Patriot League.
After clearing up last week’s special teams problems, it looks like a major focus for the Hoyas this week will be improving their pass defense, which allowed the Red Foxes to put up 305 yards in the air.
“[We are] looking closer at how we are teaching and practicing the coverages,” Kelly said. “We will be better.”
Next up across the gridiron for Georgetown is conference foe Bucknell. Kickoff for that game is set for 1 p.m. on Saturday in Lewisburg, Pa.