The Georgetown football team will look to end its four-game losing streak in its first conference contest against Lehigh this weekend.
The Hoyas (1-4, 0-0 Patriot League) are coming off a poor defensive performance last week against the Princeton Tigers in which they allowed more than 450 yards for the second consecutive game.
The Mountain Hawks (1-5, 1-0 Patriot League) offense presents another threat to the Hoyas’ struggling defense. Led by junior quarterback Brad Mayes, who has thrown for almost 350 yards per game, the Mountain Hawks have scored 33 points per game this season, more than double the Hoyas’ average.
Georgetown Head Coach Rob Sgarlata said one of the biggest keys to stopping Mayes and the aerial threat is pressuring him early.
“We haven’t been able to get too much pressure with four [rushers], so [we need to] make sure we can make him move out of the pocket,” Sgarlata said.
Along with Mayes, junior running back Dominick Bragalone helps command the offense for Lehigh. Last week, he tallied 186 yards on the ground and a touchdown, good for an Honorable Mention as Patriot League Player of the Week.
Hoya sophomore defensive lineman Khristian Tate, who forced two fumbles last week against Princeton and returned one of the recovered fumbles to the end zone for a touchdown, said that limiting Bragalone was a mental battle.
“We still play our schemes. With Lehigh, though, they get their rushing offense from their [offensive] line. We just got to stay strong, stay in our gap, play the scheme, play what we’re supposed to do,” Tate said.
In last week’s 50-30 loss against Princeton (3-1, 0-1 Ivy League), the Georgetown defense surrendered 457 yards for an average of 6.8 yards per play.
“We gave up way too many big plays, which is something that is not characteristic for us on defense,” Sgarlata said.
After going up 10-0 early against Princeton, Georgetown allowed 50 consecutive points. Tate mentioned that to break the losing streak, the team needs to put in the same effort in the fourth quarter as it does in the first.
“It wasn’t scheme or anything that messed us up [against Princeton]; it was more of our effort that let them get the lead. If we can really string together four quarters of hard football, I feel like we can do really well in this game [against Lehigh],” Tate said.
In terms of playing well on the defensive side of the ball, Sgarlata said that a solid performance from the offense will make the defense’s job much easier.
“We have to make sure that we possess the ball,” Sgarlata said. “It’s basically just taking each series and accomplishing the goal of trying to keep the defense off the field by being efficient on first and second down [on offense].”
Georgetown’s offense will have an easier time with Lehigh’s defense than it did with stingier defenses such as Columbia’s. Lehigh has allowed 46.7 points per game this season, and its struggling rush defense has allowed opponents to rack up more than 276 yards per game on the ground.
“We’d like to get out and establish the run game early, take some pressure off of our quarterback, and be able to control the clock,” Sgarlata said.
Tate said the team has been channeling its frustrations from past weeks into practicing harder to make an impression in its first conference game of the season.
“Since the first loss, we’ve been going as hard as we can. Especially with this game being that it’s a conference game, it’s more of a statement for us. We really need to show the rest of the league that we’re not playing games. We mean business,” Tate said.
The Hoyas will travel to Lehigh for a 12:30 p.m. kickoff at Goodman Stadium in Bethlehem, Pa. on Saturday. Streaming will be available on the Ivy League Network and ESPN Radio of the Lehigh Valley.