After dropping their sixth-straight game against Yale last Saturday, Georgetown’s football team (2-1) must rebound quickly as they take on another Ivy League opponent when they travel to Princeton (0-1) tonight.
There were nine total turnovers and countless missed opportunities against the Bulldogs, including a game-ending interception in Yale’s end zone as junior quarterback Aaron Aiken went for the win in the Hoyas’ wild, unpredictable 24-21 loss.
It was the kind of gut-wrenching defeat that can linger with a team for an entire season and derail lofty expectations. Head Coach Kevin Kelly, however, thinks his team has already moved past the disappointment and is ready to focus on its next opponent.
“We talked about [the loss] on Sunday, we had practice and I told them, at the end, that’s it for Yale,” Kelly said. “We’ll learn from it, and our guys have had a terrific week in practice.”
Georgetown will look to bring that same sharpness to Princeton Stadium on Friday for their matchup with the Tigers. To do so, they will have to cut back on their turnovers and execute in the red zone, two problems that have plagued the team in its first three games.
“It’s all about execution. Usually, when there’s a mistake in a play, it’s one or two guys at the most,” Kelly said. “We’ve had more of an emphasis on [ball security] this week, and we should be fine.”
After two straight one-win seasons, the Tigers certainly appear to be an easier opponent for the Blue and Gray. However, Princeton has made strides of improvement this year with a revamped look and a new quarterback, sophomore Connor Michelson, running the offense.
“They’re a program that’s changed their mindset,” Kelly said. “You can see they’ve got some character, as far as their leadership and their coaching staff have done a nice job with them.”
Despite the step up, though, Princeton came out looking like the same team of previous seasons in their first game, trailing undefeated Lehigh 17-0 at halftime.
But the second half was a vastly different story, as the Tigers came out strong, held Lehigh scoreless and used their rushing attack, led by senior running back Akil Sharp, to pick up two touchdowns on the ground. While the comeback effort fell just short, 17-14, Princeton showed that it wouldn’t back down.
“At halftime it was 17-0, [but] they didn’t quit, and their defense shut [Lehigh] out,” Kelly said. “Obviously, they’ve got a good defense.”
In a twist that will make the game more exciting for the Blue and Gray, it is the first nationally televised game in the program’s history. Kelly, aware of the anticipation, is working to tamp down his players’ pregame angst.
“My concern is not to have too much juice when the game starts. I am going to tell them everyone’s one man and has one job,” Kelly said. “It doesn’t feel any different when you play [on television], and it’s just like any other football game.”
The Hoyas look to bring that attitude tonight at 7 p.m. The game, held in Princeton, N.J., will be televised on ESPNU.