A memorable game for the Georgetown football team led to a disappointing outcome, as the Hoyas suffered a 41-2 loss to the Harvard Crimson on Saturday afternoon at the historic Robert F. Kennedy Stadium.
RFK Stadium is the premier multipurpose stadium in Washington, D.C., managed by Events DC, the official convention and sports authority for the District of Columbia. The stadium is named after Harvard graduate Robert F. Kennedy, who played for the Crimson in 1946 and 1947 before he became attorney general and represented New York as a senator.
Georgetown Head Coach Rob Sgarlata said that despite the loss, the opportunity to play at such a venue was good for the team.
“The outcome’s not what you want, but the experience for the kids was something that was good,” Sgarlata said. “Generate some excitement on campus, as well as to get our kids in a big venue.”
The game got off to a rough start for Georgetown (1-3) when Harvard junior wide receiver Justice Shelton-Mosley carried Georgetown sophomore Brad Hurst’s first punt of the game 91 yards to the house for the touchdown.
The mistakes piled up early and often for the Hoyas. On their next drive, after the punt-return touchdown, Georgetown pieced together a nice drive against the Harvard (2-1, 1-0 Ivy League) defense. Junior quarterback Clay Norris, filling in for injured fifth-year quarterback Tim Barnes, completed passes to sophomore wide receiver Michael Dereus and senior wide receiver Justin Harrell to get the offense to midfield.
However, Norris was sacked at the Harvard 35-yard line and fumbled the ball, which was recovered by Harvard junior defensive tackle Richie Ryan.
“That’s not as good as Georgetown can be. We didn’t play well today against a good football team,” Sgarlata said. “I give them a lot of credit. They earned the win. But we didn’t put ourselves in a good place and gave up some opportunities to make that a football game.”
In the first half alone, the Hoyas had four turnovers. For the game, Georgetown finished with four fumbles, three of which were recovered by Harvard, and one interception.
The Crimson took over at their own 34-yard line and marched right back down the field, thanks to a 29-yard pass from freshman quarterback Jake Smith to junior wide receiver Henry Taylor to the Hoyas’ 25-yard line. Four plays later, Harvard scored on an 11-yard rush by junior running back Charlie Booker III, making the score 14-0 with 5:50 left in the first quarter.
One of the few bright spots for the Hoyas during the day was junior defensive back Blaise Brown, who caught two interceptions. His first came in the second quarter when he intercepted Smith at the goal line to stop the bleeding defense for Georgetown.
“I just saw the quarterback roll out, and I saw the guy in front of me. I kind of figured he was going to throw it to him, and I just broke on it,” Brown said.
The game got out of hand at the beginning of the second quarter when Norris was flushed out of the pocket and threw a wobbly pass while being tackled. The pass landed in the outstretched arms of Harvard senior cornerback Raishaun McGhee, who returned it 23 yards for a touchdown.
Turnovers especially plagued Norris on Saturday. In addition to the interception, the backup quarterback lost the ball twice. With Barnes out due to injury and no other quarterback on the roster with game experience, the Hoyas had to ride out the game with Norris under center.
“[It was] up and down,” Sgarlata said. “He did a great job on a couple of drives; he threw the ball really well. He’s got to eliminate some of the self-inflicted wounds. Playing against a good opponent, you got to take care of the football. Those two turnovers killed us.”
The lone points of the day for the Hoyas came in the form of a safety. With the Crimson punting from their own end zone, sophomore tight end Hunter Wegner snapped the football way over the head of senior punter Zach Schmid out of the end zone.
The Crimson eased their foot off the gas pedal in the second half. After an early 39-yard field goal in the third quarter made the score 34-2, Harvard did not score any more points until their final touchdown of the game in the fourth quarter, when senior quarterback Joe Viviano hit Taylor again for a 30-yard touchdown to make it 41-2.
“I just feel like we have to play harder, honestly,” Georgetown senior running back Isaac Ellsworth said. “I feel like the coaches are putting us in the right positions to be successful. The only difference between us and Harvard today was they wanted it more. They played harder; the coaches don’t have anything they can do for us. It’s up to the players to play harder.”
The Hoyas travel to Princeton, N.J. to take on the Princeton Tigers (2-1, 0-1 Ivy League), who lost last weekend to Columbia (3-0, 1-0 Ivy League), a team that has already beaten Georgetown this season.
Sgarlata said that the road ahead for the Hoyas does not get easier, and the team needs to focus on improvement.
“I told the kids, ‘Guess what? We play Princeton next week.’ So every week, it’s all about us,” Sgarlata said. “If we can improve every week, we’ll win games. And that’s our focus right now, is just on Georgetown.”