Aidan Curran is a staff writer for The Hoya
The Georgetown football team secured a 16-10 victory on the road against Campbell University on Saturday. The win came after senior cornerback Jelani Williamson returned a fumble recovery for the game-winning touchdown.
“Jelani Williamson, year in and year out, comes up with a huge play,” Georgetown Head Coach Rob Sgarlata said.
It was a sluggish first quarter for both teams as the two sides traded punts back and forth, until the Hoyas (1-0, Big East) struck first on a 42-yard field goal from sophomore kicker Brad Hurst.
The Camels (1-1, Pioneer League) threatened early in the second quarter after big plays from senior quarterback Anthony Robbins, who finished the game 31 of 48 for 269 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
With the Campbell offense on the Hoyas’ five-yard line, junior linebacker J’V’on Butler knocked the ball out of the hands of Campbell redshirt sophomore running back Joshua Jones. Williamson recovered the fumble to extinguish the threat from the Camels.
Neither team neared the opposing team’s red zone for the rest of the half, as the Hoyas went into halftime with a slim 3-0 lead.
Both teams were reinvigorated in the second half. Robbins hit redshirt junior wide receiver Trey Sanders in the end zone for a 19-yard touchdown catch that gave the hosts a 7-3 lead early in the second half.
The Hoyas came back strong with a 33-yard run from senior running back Alex Valles. Once the Georgetown offense reached Campbell territory, senior quarterback Tim Barnes capped the drive off with a sharp pass to sophomore wide receiver Michael Dereus for the 32-yard score, making it 10-7 with 7:46 left in the third quarter.
“It’s been a while since we got to step on the field and play football,” Williamson said. “So that’s always exciting. We had a lot of young people step up, and today we just did our job.”
Barnes, who missed most of last season due to injury and was granted a fifth year of eligibility by the NCAA, finished 14 of 28 for 180 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions.
Campbell got the ball at start the fourth quarter after a punt by Hurst. A 17-yard catch by sophomore wide receiver Zach Roderick brought the Camels down the field, leading to a successful field goal attempt by senior kicker Mitchell Brown to knot the score up at 10.
Robbins completed a short pass to Jones for four yards before he ran out of bounds to stop the clock with 1:30 left to play. On the next play, Williamson recovered the fumble, forced by junior cornerback Blaise Brown and returned it 32 yards for the winning score.
“It was a routine play,” Williamson said of his game-winning touchdown. “Right place, right time. Just picked it up and ran it into the end zone.”
Along with senior linebackers Danny Yankovich, who had 11 tackles and 0.5 tackles for loss, and Cameron Seward, who had 11 tackles and one tackle for loss, the Hoyas’ defense tightened up when it mattered most. Although the defense allowed 329 total yards and gave up 22 first downs, it notched seven sacks, four turnovers and two red-zone stops.
“It’s a belief. The kids have done it so many times that it’s the norm here to play great defense, and they come up big in critical situations,” Sgarlata said. “So I think they’ve done a good job of buying in to what [defensive coordinator] Coach Doherty is selling, as far as being an attack defense and continuing the success that we’ve had over the years here defensively.”
The Hoyas head back to the Hilltop to host the Marist Red (1-1, 1-0 Pioneer League) in their home opener at 1 p.m. at Cooper Field on Saturday.