At the half of Georgetown football’s contest with Bucknell last Saturday, sophomore quarterback Gunther Johnson had individually outgained the entire Bison offense with 144 yards rushing to the Bucknell’s 96 total yards. Johnson’s remarkable first half was not enough, though, as Georgetown eventually fell to Bucknell 12-0.
Johnson did most of his damage on the ground, breaking off huge first-down runs of 37, 21 and 38 yards for the Hoyas in the first half. But penalties derailed the momentum Johnson created for the offense as the Bison (5-5, 2-3 Patriot League) capitalized on turnovers to take a 3-0 lead into halftime.
The Georgetown (1-9, 0-5 Patriot League) defense turned in yet another mammoth effort, with senior defensive back and captain David Akere accounting for nine tackles and standout freshman linebacker Wesley Bowers accruing a team-high 10 tackles on his way to Patriot League Rookie of the Week honors.
Senior running back Isaac Ellsworth said he feels confident in Bowers’ leadership and work ethic and the program’s trajectory after the Class of 2018 graduates in the spring.
“I remember meeting [Bowers] when he came and visited last year and seeing how enthusiastic he was and how his work ethic has developed him even at such a young age,” Ellsworth said. “He reminds us a little bit of Ray Lewis out there on the field with his ferocity and tenacity out on the field. We definitely see the future is in good hands with him on the team and leading the linebacking corps.”
Bowers and the Georgetown defense came to play against Bucknell, allowing less than 100 yards of total offense in the first half. But on short fields in the second quarter, Bucknell threatened to build a sizable lead. The Bison held the ball twice within the 20-yard line, where the Hoyas were able to hold them and force two field goal tries.
In the second half, Georgetown’s offensive woes would continue despite Johnson’s ability to throw and run. Early-down penalties proved costly for the Hoyas as they were forced to punt on four out of their five second-half drives, allowing Bucknell to dominate time of possession. The Bison eventually broke through Georgetown’s stout defense, scoring a touchdown with eight seconds left in the third quarter that sealed the game.
Avoiding penalties will be a big theme for the team as it looks ahead to Colgate this weekend in its season finale. Head Coach Rob Sgarlata said avoiding those pre-snap mistakes is a key to a cleaner game against the co-leader of the Patriot League.
“This was another weekend where we let penalties kill us as we started drives, so that’s something we’ll look to clean up as we are getting ready for Colgate,” Sgarlata said. “For us it’s about being consistent: We had seven penalties and four of them were pre-snap, so we have to keep ourselves out of the first and 15 situations, and that’s something we’ve been focusing on this week.”
Georgetown faces a tough opponent in the Colgate Raiders (6-4, 4-1 Patriot League), who are tied with Lehigh (4-6, 4-1 Patriot League) for the number one spot in the Patriot League standings. The Raiders’ stout defense ranks first in the conference, having allowed 40 fewer points than the next best unit and only 18.2 yards a game.
“They’re probably one of the better defenses I’ve seen in the conference,” Sgarlata said. “They run to the ball, they’re well-coached and everyone that has played them has had a hard time running the ball on them. We have to establish a run game so we can be two-dimensional.”
Two star sophomore linebackers lead Colgate’s defense: Nick Ioanilli, who leads the team with 57 total tackles on the season, and Nick Wheeler, who leads the team with 9 sacks.
On offense, true freshman quarterback Grant Breneman has led the Raiders since the season opener and already has over 1,300 yards passing coming into their final game of the season. Senior running back James Holland Jr. has aided this young and talented team, providing three 100-yard rushing performances in his last four games.
Senior defensive lineman Kendall Catching said Colgate’s offense will use an option attack to spring Holland and that the Hoyas must play sound, assignment-driven defense to stop Colgate’s balanced attack.
“Colgate has a really solid scheme on offense; they like to use the option a lot. So that means that each player has to do their job and do it well,” Catching said.
The contest against Colgate will take place this Saturday at Cooper Field, where Georgetown will honor 26 Seniors in the Class of 2018.
“For Isaac [Ellsworth] and I coming here from Texas, football is a very important part of our culture, and it’s a very important part of what makes us who we are,” Catching said. “We’ve put a huge amount of blood, sweat and tears into this program, so to see it come to an end is a bittersweet thing. We’ll have that little piece of us missing the rest of our lives, but we’re thankful to have been able to play college sports.”
Ellsworth expects emotions to be running high as a chapter in each of these players lives ends.
“It’s definitely an accomplishment for me, when I get to look back on my life. Being able to play Division 1 football has been a dream come true, especially at a prestigious school like Georgetown. I think this weekend might be a little emotional, and we’ll try to give this team and this program everything we’ve got on this last game,” Ellsworth said.
Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. and will be televised by GUHoyas.