A late comeback attempt by the Georgetown football team fell short Saturday as the team continued its downward spiral, dropping its fourth straight game by a score of 50-30 to Princeton.
After a 41-2 loss to the Harvard Crimson (2-2, 1-1 Ivy League) last week at Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, the Hoyas (1-4) came into Saturday’s away matchup looking for more success against the Tigers (3-1, 0-1 Ivy League). Instead, they lost their fourth consecutive game, with three of those losses coming against Ivy League foes.
As has become status quo through the Hoyas’ last five games, their offense struggled to fire on all cylinders. The offense once again had to rely solely on its passing game for offensive production, as the running game was thoroughly stifled to the tune of 22 rushes for 40 yards — an average of 1.8 yards per rush.
After a turnover-filled performance against the Crimson at RFK Stadium, junior backup quarterback Clay Norris got a chance to redeem himself against the Tigers. However, similar turnover problems plagued the offense and Norris was replaced in the second quarter by sophomore quarterback Gunther Johnson. Norris finished 12-for-20 with 109 yards and one interception.
Norris and the offense got off to a hot start. Norris attempted 11 straight passes to begin the game before a single rush attempt. After a 16-yard pass to junior wide receiver Brandon Williams, the Hoyas scored first when senior running back Alex Valles scampered in for a four-yard touchdown on Georgetown’s first rush of the day.
The Hoya defense quickly created an offensive opportunity when sophomore defensive lineman Khristian Tate forced and recovered a Princeton fumble, rumbling an extra 15 yards after the recovery to give the offense the ball at Princeton’s 19-yard line.
The Hoyas failed to move the ball beyond that and were forced to settle for a 36-yard field goal from sophomore kicker Brad Hurst to make the score 10-0 midway through the first quarter.
The Tigers awoke from their slumber shortly after falling behind in the first quarter. Thanks to a touchdown pass, safety and rushing touchdown, the Tigers quickly reclaimed the lead in a matter of seven minutes and 35 seconds, going into the second quarter up 17-10.
The Hoya offense sputtered in the second quarter and the Tigers roared ahead. After a Georgetown three-and-out to start the second quarter, the Tigers took over at their own 42-yard line. Princeton senior quarterback Chad Kanoff marched his troops right back down the field, capping off the drive with a five-yard touchdown pass to make it 24-10.
The game got out of reach for Georgetown shortly thereafter, when Norris was intercepted by Princeton freshman defensive back C.J. Wall, who returned it 38 yards for the touchdown.
Johnson replaced Norris on the next drive. Johnson, who played at the end of the game against Harvard, fumbled the ball on his third play of the series, although it was recovered by teammate sophomore offensive lineman Ryan Jelinek.
After a failed third-down conversion attempt and a punt from Hurst, the Tigers scored again on another touchdown pass from Kanoff to junior tight end Graham Adomitis to make it 36-10 after a failed two-point conversion.
The Hoyas were helpless to stop the aerial attack of the Tigers’ offense. Kanoff had only four incompletions on the day and threw for 313 yards and four touchdowns. Eight different Princeton players caught passes on the day, highlighted by junior wide receiver Jesper Horsted, who caught nine balls for 112 yards and a touchdown.
When the game seemed out of reach at 50-10, the Hoyas tried to muster a drive together. The Hoyas drove down the field from their own 25, aided by a personal foul penalty, and found themselves at the Princeton seven-yard line. Four plays later, sophomore wide receiver Michael Dereus scored on a rush from seven yards out to make the score 50-16 after a missed extra point.
On Georgetown’s next possession, Johnson completed multiple long passes to get his team back into Princeton territory quickly. After a 36-yard pass to Williams, Johnson scored on a two-yard rush to make it 50-23 with 12:58 left in the game.
Georgetown got the ball right back when freshman defensive lineman Owen Kessler forced a fumble, which Tate recovered and returned 21 yards for a touchdown to cut the deficit to 20 points.
The Tigers snuffed out any hope of completing the comeback, however, when they went on an eight-minute drive that resulted in a 42-yard missed field goal.
The Hoyas got the ball back with 5:05 left, but Johnson’s fourth-down pass to freshman wide receiver Max Edwards fell short of the first down marker. The Tigers took over and ran out the rest of the clock to secure the victory.
Johnson filled in admirably for Norris, finishing 13-for-22 with 149 yards, one rushing touchdown and no turnovers.
“I thought [Johnson] did a good job of extending plays in the pocket and was able to get out and use his legs to run well,” Sgarlata said. “He was our leading rusher, so definitely some things in the second half we can build on.”
The Hoyas travel to Bethlehem, Pa., to open conference play against the Lehigh Mountain Hawks (1-5, 1-0 Patriot League) Saturday.
Kickoff is slated for 12:30 p.m.