The Georgetown football team dropped to 0-2 Saturday, falling by the score of 23-14 at the hands of the Dayton Flyers (1-0). An inability to stop the run doomed the Hoyas, as Flyers senior running back Connor Kacsor ran for a school-record 301 yards.
Georgetown’s defense, despite not being able to stop the run, was able to create two turnovers against Dayton. Junior linebacker Matthew Satchell forced a fumble early in the third quarter that was recovered by junior defensive back Garrett Powers. However, the Hoyas’ ensuing drive stalled in Flyers territory after failing to convert on fourth down. In the fourth quarter, junior linebacker Hunter Kiselick intercepted a pass that had been tipped by senior linebacker and captain Nick Alfieri.
After two Dayton field goals put the Hoyas in an early 6-0 hole, they grabbed the lead late in the second quarter on a one-yard touchdown run by senior running back Daniel Wright, the first of his career. However, it took Dayton under one-and-a-half minutes to strike back, with a 43-yard touchdown run by Kacsor. Georgetown trailed the rest of the game.
“We missed out on a couple little things here and there in the first two games that haven’t allowed us to get ahead or get the advantage,” junior quarterback Kyle Nolan said. “That’s something that [Head Coach Rob] Sgarlata harps about, doing the little things and everything matters. We’re still focusing on that. I’ve missed a couple assignments here and there, and if we straighten those out and get everything fixed we’ll be alright for the rest of the season.”
Coming off a somewhat shaky opener against Wagner, Nolan played better against Dayton, going 19-of-35 while passing for 179 yards and throwing his first touchdown of the season to sophomore wide receiver Justin Hill. The touchdown — which brought the Hoyas to within six points early in the fourth quarter — came on a clutch fourth-down play in which Hill came down with a jump ball in the back corner of the end zone.
“Justin has worked extremely hard over the past year. His improvement from freshman to sophomore year is exponential,” Nolan said. “I’ve been working with Justin since last season ended and I knew seeing him out there in one-on-one coverage that if I gave him the chance, gave him a good enough ball, he’s going to make the play. During practice we’ve done that a little bit, and I knew that he was going to come through.”
The Hoyas’ running game has been quiet in the season’s early weeks, but improved markedly against Dayton, as the unit rushed for a collective 100 yards on 29 carries — good for a 3.4-yard average. Last week, Georgetown rushed for just 20 yards on 19 attempts — a 0.95-yard average. Junior running back Jo’el Kimpela gained 54 yards on nine carries, but outside of that no one found much success against the Dayton defense. For now, the Hoyas have to keep relying on their young receivers to come through until the running game picks up.
“We’re a little inexperienced, which is a killer come game time if somebody is nervous or something like that, but throughout the season we’re only going to get more comfortable with everything that we’re doing,” Nolan said. “Once guys get more time and get more reps you can only expect to go uphill.”
With the struggling running game, the onus has been on the young receiving corps. On Saturday, 142 out of Nolan’s 179 passing yards were caught by either freshmen or sophomores, including the touchdown. Nolan insists that the loss of 2013 starting receivers Zach Wilke and Daniel Sprotte to graduation hasn’t affected his expectations for the unit.
“We have a young crew,” Nolan said. “There are a lot of skill-position freshman, sophomores and juniors. For the most part … it doesn’t really affect the game plan too much because we just expect guys to go out there and make plays.”
Junior wide receiver Jake DeCicco and Hill both saw the field last season, including a number of starts. Hill played in all 11 games, starting nine and recording 26 catches, while DeCicco had two touchdowns in 11 games as the team’s third-leading receiver. Freshman wide receiver Justin Harrel has also gotten playing time this season and has 40 receiving yards after playing in both games.
“They have done a great job. [Hill] had a great game this past game, making that catch in the corner. I expect those guys to make some big plays,” Nolan said.
Continued improvement from both offensive aspects will be needed when the Hoyas travel to Poughkeepsie, N.Y., to face the Marist Red Foxes (0-2) on Saturday, Sept. 13 at 6 p.m.