Georgetown football head coach Kevin Kelly does not believe there are any moral victories in football, but Georgetown’s most recent loss to No. 9 Fordham is at least encouraging. The Hoyas (1-5) fell to the Rams (7-0) 34-12 last Saturday. Heavy underdogs, the Blue and Gray held the Rams’ offense to a season-low 26 points.
“There are no moral victories, we need to score more points. We need to keep the opposing team out of the end zone and we need to start fast and finish strong,” Kelly said.
Although Fordham is a Patriot League opponent and NCAA eligible, this game will not count in the Blue and Gray’s conference record because the Rams gave athletic merit aid to their Class of 2014, which made them ineligible to compete in this season’s Patriot League.
Despite the seemingly lopsided loss, the Hoyas actually won the second half. After a Fordham field goal early in the third quarter, the Blue and Gray trailed the Rams 31-0. But in the final 24 minutes of the game, Georgetown outscored Fordham 12-3.
Offensively, freshman quarterback Tim Barnes, making his first collegiate appearance, led the Hoyas. Barnes replaced senior quarterback Isaiah Kempf in the last series of the first quarter and proceeded to throw for 124 yards on 16-31 passing. With just over a minute remaining in the fourth quarter, Barnes dropped back into the pocket and completed a 15-yard touchdown pass, his first career touchdown, to senior wide receiver Michael Cimilluca.
In the loss, the Georgetown defense had one of its best performances of the season. After three consecutive games of allowing more than 43 points, the Hoyas defense allowed only 26 points; Fordham’s third touchdown came on a Kempf pick-six. This feat is impressive considering the high-powered Rams offense has averaged 40.6 points per game.
Most notably, the Hoyas limited Rams senior running back Carlton Koonce to 25 yards on 14 carries. Prior to Saturday’s game, Koone was averaging 125 rushing yards on 22 carries per game. Meanwhile, Fordham’s junior quarterback Mike Nebrich led the passing attack for the Rams, throwing for 405 yards and a touchdown on 35-of-45 passing.
“I was proud of the way we played in the second half against Fordham,” Kelly said. “We executed better in all three phases of the game, and that will give us something to build on against Lehigh.”
The Blue and Gray will look to rebound tomorrow when they travel to Bethlehem, Penn. to take on No. 16 Lehigh (5-1, 0-0 Patriot League). The only blemish on the Mountain Hawks record is a 52-34 loss at the hands of two weeks ago. Most recently, Lehigh defeated Columbia 24-10 in New York last weekend.
Despite putting up seemingly impressive numbers against Columbia, Lehigh did not play its best offensive game. The Mountain Hawks managed 440 yards, while their season average has been 485 yards a game. Additionally, Lehigh scored 24 points, far below their season average of just over 33 points a game.
Facing their second consecutive top-20 opponent, the Hoyas will once again be up against a team with a high-powered offense. Senior quarterback Brandon Bialkowski leads the Lehigh passing attack, throwing for an average of 362 yards per game and almost three touchdowns per game. Bialkowski’s favorite target is senior wide receiver Lee Kurfis. Kurfis has had seven consecutive games of over 100 yards receiving dating back to last season.
Although the Mountain Hawks boast a 5-1 record, they have not been dominating teams thus far this season. Four of their five wins — all except the Columbia game — have been one-possession games including a one-point victory over Princeton and a double overtime victory against Central Connecticut. Lehigh is outscoring opponents by about two points a game.
The weak spot on the Lehigh team is its defense, which allows an average of 465.8 yards of total offense to opponents. They have been especially susceptible to the run, giving up over 220 rushing yards per game.
“We’ve practiced better the last couple weeks and guys are starting to get healthy,” Kelly said. “We’ve overcome some adversity and there is more of a sense of optimism. We know that these next five games are the ones that count and it starts with Lehigh on Saturday.”
The Hoyas will look to end their four-game losing streak tomorrow in Bethlehem, Pa. Kickoff against the Mountain Hawks is set for 12:30 p.m.