Five total touchdowns in his third career game were not enough for Georgetown sophomore quarterback Gunther Johnson, as his team’s defense surrendered the most points it has all season on Oct. 14.
Despite a strong offensive performance, the Hoyas (1-5, 0-1 Patriot League) dropped their fifth straight game in a road loss to the Lehigh Mountain Hawks (2-5, 2-0 Patriot League) by a score of 54-35.
Johnson came in again early in the first quarter and replaced junior quarterback Clay Norris, continuing the quarterback carousel that has taken place this season for Georgetown after fifth-year quarterback Tim Barnes suffered an injury against Columbia (5-0, 2-0 Ivy League). Johnson notched the best quarterback performance this season for the Hoyas, completing 18 of 33 passes for 290 yards and two touchdowns.
Johnson, a 6’1”, 193 lb. sophomore, transferred from the University of Arizona after spending last year with the Wildcats’ football team. On Monday, he was named to the Patriot League Honorable Mention list. He was also Georgetown’s leading rusher against Lehigh, gaining 71 yards on the ground on 13 carries, including three rushing touchdowns.
“Gunther does a really good job of extending plays and he has the ability to run the football. I thought Coach Neuberger did a really good job with our scheme, with taking advantage of the dimension that Gunther gives us running the football,” Georgetown Head Coach Rob Sgarlata said.
The Hoyas’ defense got off to a strong start when senior defensive back Jelani Williamson intercepted a deep pass from Lehigh junior quarterback Brad Mayes at the Georgetown 22-yard line.
Norris was benched after the Georgetown offense stalled again on its second drive of the game after the Williamson interception. Nevertheless, the Hoyas went three-and-out on Johnson’s first drive.
The Mountain Hawks struck first on a five-yard rush by junior running back Dominick Bragalone to make it 7-0, and on their next possession, they engineered a nine-play, 77-yard drive that culminated in a touchdown reception by senior wide receiver Troy Pelletier to make it 14-0 early in the second quarter.
Johnson provided the first Georgetown highlight when he found sophomore wide receiver Michael Dereus for an 80-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-7. It was Johnson’s first career touchdown pass and the fifth-longest passing play in Georgetown football history.
The Mountain Hawks went back to work after the Hoyas got on the board, and Mayes connected with Pelletier again, this time for 24 yards into the end zone, making it 21-7 with 8:29 left.
The Hoyas committed two straight penalties to start the next drive, giving Georgetown a 1st-and-25. After rushing for three yards, Johnson hit junior wide receiver Brandon Williams for 23 yards for the first down, the type of crucial big play this offense has struggled to make all year.
Minutes later, Johnson ran the ball in from eight yards out to cut the deficit to seven at 21-14.
The Georgetown defense struggled to make a stop the whole game, however, and Lehigh tacked on two more touchdowns before halftime to go up 34-14.
Lehigh gained a remarkable 628 total yards of offense for the game. Mayes went 31-of-40 with 384 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. The Mountain Hawks had similar success on the ground as well, highlighted by Bragalone’s performance in which he had 24 rushes for 122 yards and two touchdowns.
Pelletier was nearly unstoppable for Lehigh all game, catching 16 balls for 197 yards and four touchdowns.
The Hoyas spent the second half trying to play catch-up, but they could not close the gap with the Mountain Hawks despite Johnson trying to keep putting points up on the board.
Down 54-28 with 1:44 left in the game, the Hoyas went on a rapid 88-yard drive, aided by big plays from Johnson to several receivers, including a 33-yard pass to fifth-year receiver Tommy Jesson. Johnson capped off his day with one more rushing touchdown with four seconds left from one yard out to make it 54-35.
The Hoyas will look to snap their five-game losing streak on Saturday as they return home to Cooper Field to face the Fordham Rams (1-6, 0-2 Patriot League). Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m.