The Georgetown football squad was looking to capture the program’s first-ever Patriot League championship on Saturday when it faced off against defending champion No. 6 Lehigh in Bethlehem, Pa. In the program’s biggest contest since rejoining the Football Championship Subdivision in 2001, Georgetown hoped to complete a remarkable turnaround and earn a spot in the FCS playoffs for the first time in a decade. Unfortunately for the Blue and Gray, Lehigh’s offense proved too much to handle and the Mountain Hawks cruised to a 34-12 victory.
After a decisive and emotional Senior Day victory last weekend against the Fordham Rams, the positive energy surrounding the Hoyas was evident all over the Hilltop. Students rallied behind the team in anticipation of this week’s matchup versus the Mountain Hawks, as large groups of Georgetown supporters filled Lehigh’s Goodman Stadium.
“[That] was the most [fans] I ever remember coming to a road game,” Head Coach Kevin Kelly said.
The support seemed to help the team in the opening minutes. After winning the opening toss and deferring possession to the second half, the Hoyas’ defense, the calling card of the team all season long, came out swarming. Junior defensive back Jeremy Moore forced and recovered a fumble on the third play of the game and gave the offense good field position at the Lehigh 40-yard line.
The offense then drove the ball 34 yards with a big gain coming on a short pass from junior quarterback Isaiah Kempf to sophomore running back Nick Campanella for a gain of 29 yards.
The drive stalled at the Lehigh 6-yard line, however, and the usually reliable senior kicker Brett Weiss missed a 23-yard field goal attempt, slowing the momentum the Blue and Gray had coming out of the locker room.
On the very next drive, the Mountain Hawks marched 80 yards down the field in 11 plays to record the game’s first score, a 6-yard touchdown run by senior wide receiver Matt Fitz. Lehigh senior quarterback Chris Lum completed seven passes for 70 yards and targeted the middle of the field throughout the entire contest.
“That’s our coverage — [the middle of the field] is a soft spot, we just have to manage that,” Kelly said. “But later we tightened up our coverage a little bit and they weren’t able to complete passes over the middle as much.”
After trading punts for the rest of the opening frame, the two sides combined for scores on the next four drives. The Hoyas converted two field goals while the Mountain Hawks opened the second quarter with a field goal of their own as well as a touchdown on their next drive, pushing the score to 17–6 in favor of the Hawks.
Lehigh tacked on another field goal before halftime to lengthen their lead to 14 points at the break, a daunting obstacle for the Hoyas to overcome on the road.
But the Blue and Gray would not go down easily, coming out of halftime with the same fire present at kickoff.
After a 31-yard return by Moore on the opening kickoff of the half, Georgetown’s balanced attack allowed the offense to move quickly down the field.
The drive culminated in a 6-yard touchdown pass from Kempf, which was tipped by senior tight end Tucker Stafford into the hands of junior wide receiver Max Waizenegger.
But the Hoyas were again unable to sustain their momentum. Later that quarter, Lehigh intercepted a pass from Kempf, returned it for a touchdown and stomped on Georgetown’s fading hopes for a conference title.
The Mountain Hawks finished off their scoring burst when Lum scrambled for a short touchdown run at the end of the third quarter. Lum finished the day with 32 completions for 393 yards, while the Lehigh ground attack gained 124 yards.
“They are very good on offense,” said junior linebacker Robert McCabe, who contributed 14 tackles. “When they got in the red zone we knew we just had to knuckle up and keep them from the end zone. Unfortunately, we couldn’t do that enough today.”
The Hoyas gained only 48 yards on the ground and 151 through the air.
On defense, senior defensive end Andrew Schaetzke once again led the way for the Hoyas in his final game, racking up two sacks to place him second on Georgetown’s all-time list and third in Patriot League history.
And although a great season has come to an end, the team’s success — and the senior leaders who helped make it happen — will not fade from the football program’s memory.
“No one will ever forget this football team,” Kelly said. “[The seniors] might not realize it today, but someday they will understand it — we have to celebrate this season. This is a special group.”
Schaetzke expressed similar emotions.
“Every one of those guys put their heart and soul into every play, so we just have to look back and celebrate a great season,” Schaetzke said.
The Hoyas completed the season with a record of 8–3, finishing second in the Patriot League — the highest they have ever placed in the standings.