Fading hopes of in-conference redemption for the Georgetown football team were all but extinguished Saturday in a 34-14 loss to Colgate. The Hoyas (1-7, 0-2 Patriot League) dropped their sixth straight game this season as Colgate (3-5, 2-1 Patriot League) outplayed and overpowered the Georgetown defense on the Hoyas’ home field. Promising developments on the offensive side of the ball, highlighted by a 257-yard performance by sophomore quarterback Kyle Nolan, kept the game from turning into a blowout until late, but continued defensive struggles against an able Raiders offense and an inability to establish a run game mean that theHoyas are still searching for their second win.
“You just got to keep fighting,” Head Coach Kevin Kelly said. “Players got to keep playing, coaches got to keep coaching. We did some positive things today.”
Both teams got off to quick starts consistent with their previous performances this season. Colgate possesses one of the Patriot League’s worst run defenses, and Georgetown had allowed at least 34 points to opposing teams for the last five games. With the Hoyas’ senior running back coming off a career three-touchdown game against Lehigh and the return of last season’s offensive player of the year, senior quarterback Gavin McCarney, from injury, the cards were aligned for an offensive battle.
Both teams obliged, with Colgate scoring touchdowns on its first two possessions while Georgetown added another in between. The Hoyas ended the pattern with a red zone fumble on their second possession on an attempted lateral handoff. Georgetown struggled to end drives with points — two other drives ended with turnovers on downs deep in Colgate territory.
Despite these issues, Colgate could not lock up the game until the fourth quarter. After heading into halftime trailing by 20, the Blue and Gray outscored the Raiders 7-0 in the third quarter, after a 6-yard run by Nolan.
“We were in the game there in the third quarter,” Kelly said. “We had the opportunity to maybe win the ball game but we didn’t. We had opportunities on offense and on defense. We couldn’t slow them down.”
On offense, problems centered on the inability to create an efficient ground game. Senior running back Campanella was stifled by a Colgate defense intent on defending the rush, and could only garner 32 yards, a quarter of last week’s total. Nolan added 27 yards and a touchdown.
“They packed more guys in the box,” Nolan said. “They saw that we ran the ball really well last week, and they were ready to come downhill at us.”
Colgate’s aggressive defense of the run and the short game forced the Hoyas to put the ball in the air.
“They started to man up a little bit and get in the box,” Nolan said. “The man slowed us down a little bit and they started to defend the swing, [which was] key to our game coming in.”
The Hoyas did find some success with the pass, including a 117-yard day for senior wide receiver Zach Wilke, whose performance was capped off by a 55-yard touchdown pass from Nolan on a broken coverage.
“[Nolan] hooked it up for me, put it right on the numbers and I scored. Nobody was there,” Wilke said.
On defense, the Hoyas were unable to stop the run. The Raiders rattled off 309 yards of rushing, led by 100-yard games from sophomore running back Demetrius Russell and McCarney. The dual-threat nature of McCarney, now the third player in Football Bowl Subdivision history to pass for 5,000 yards and rush for 2,500 in his collegiate career, and Colgate’s option strained the Georgetown defense.
“They’ve got a good scheme,” Kelly said. “They’ve got an option type of offensive scheme and they read you … It forces you to water down what you’re doing on defense and they do a good job of executing.”
Georgetown was unable to handle the simultaneous threat of the pass and the run, creating opportunities that the Raiders repeatedly took advantage of.
“That’s why [McCarney] is the preseason offensive player of the year,” Kelly said. “If you looked at the stats, he was already completing 70 percent of his passes, and he does a great job. He has a great scheme.”
The Hoyas will now look to regroup and prepare for the last home game of the season, against Lafayette.
“We’re obviously disappointed with our record and everything,” Nolan said. “[We’re] trying to stay positive throughout the week and get prepared for the next game, try[ing] not to look back as much and looking forward to every game. We got to get back to winning.”
With three weeks remaining in the season, Georgetown still has a chance to finish above .500 in the Patriot League. But as the last winless team in the conference, prospects are slim at best. Kelly still intends to see a strong finish.
“In college football, you only get so many opportunities, and we’ve got three left,” Kelly said. “You have to make the most of your opportunities.”