After defeating Wagner this past Saturday in Staten Island, N.Y., to push their record to 4–2 on the year in a game that was close throughout, the Georgetown football team heads across town to face intra-city rival Howard on Saturday in the Mayor’s Cup.
A week after coming out slowly against Bucknell, Georgetown (4-2, 1-1 Patriot League) built a 14–3 lead by halftime, going into the locker room in position to control the second half and come away with the win.
“The defense played lights out,” Head Coach Kevin Kelly said. “Offensively we struggled a little bit but we made big plays when we had to make them and Brett Weiss kicked a 49-yard field goal and was 3-of-3 on field goals, so he had an outstanding day as well.”
The Blue and Gray front seven was once again the team’s most impressive group, allowing the Seahawks only 77 yards rushing on 33 carries, an average of 2.3 yards per attempt. They spent the majority of the afternoon in the backfield, on both rushing and passing plays.
The unit sacked Wagner redshirt freshman quarterback Matt Misley three times, broke up seven passes, and grabbed a victory sealing interception late in the fourth quarter to turn in one of their best performances this year. But they were plagued by the same pass defense problems they have had all season, allowing 230 yards on 43 attempts.
“We had a great effort. [We] came out and had probably our most complete game of the year,” junior linebacker Robert McCabe said. “We started out by stopping the run and the defensive line did a great job holding up blockers and making it easy for our linebackers to make plays.”
On offense, the Blue and Gray were able to mix a solid run attack with big plays through the air at advantageous moments, which was plenty on a day when the defense allowed only 10 points. They hope, however, to have a more consistent showing this week.
“We want to sustain drives and keep the defense off the field, give them some rest,” junior quarterback Isaiah Kempf said.
And after a few weeks marked by significant playing time for both quarterbacks, Kempf and senior Scott Darby, Kempf was under center for all but three snaps on Saturday. The junior signal caller controlled the offense well and played a critical role on all four of the Hoyas’ scoring drives.
Kempf, who recorded a touchdown both through the air and on the ground, is expected to get the start, as well as the majority of the snaps, this week as well.
On the opposite sideline, the Bison will have the benefit of a talented dual-threat quarterback, freshman Greg McGhee, who has been named Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Rookie of the Week three times this season.
“He is an athletic player. Very explosive,” McCabe said. “We are going to pressure him and get after him a little bit. He is a freshman so we are going to try and force him into some mistakes”.
McGhee is the heart and soul of the Bison offense, having tossed 849 yards and eight touchdowns while also gaining 216 yards and a score on the ground. He is a big-play threat on any given snap and will surely be the focus of the Hoyas defense.
“He kind of reminds me of Michael Vick,” Kelly said. “He is number seven, he’s a lefty and he runs around a little bit.”
McGhee is aided by senior running back Terrence Leffall, who has averaged 4.4 yards per carry on his way to 350 yards for the season.
Leffall, however, left last week’s game versus Florida A&M with a concussion, and his status is uncertain. He was replaced by a duo of sophomore Andra Williams and freshman Aquanius Freeman.
Perhaps the Bison’s second-most important playmaker on offense is senior wide receiver Willie Carter, who has accumulated 378 yards receiving while snatching five touchdown passes.
The Howard defense is lead by the aptly named senior defensive end Sackie Kerkulah, who has racked up 9.5 tackles for a loss, which have pushed opponents back a total of 51 yards, as well as 5.5 quarterback sacks — stats that rank him near the top of the FCS leaderboard.
“Their front four is probably the best we will face all year,” Kempf said. “We are going to do a lot of motions and stuff to keep their front four [under control]”.
Another major contributor for Howard on defense is redshirt junior linebacker Keith Pough, who has 8.5 tackles for a loss to go along with three sacks and five quarterback hits, as well as a forced fumble.
Kickoff is set for Saturday at 1 p.m. at Greene Stadium at Howard University.