Patriot League contenders, beware. Georgetown’s victory over defending champion Holy Cross showed that the upstart Hoyas are for real.
Georgetown (3-1, 2-0 Patriot League) defeated Holy Cross (1-3, 0-1 Patriot League) 17-7 at MultiSport Facility to maintain its place at the top of the conference standings and record its first Homecoming win since 2006. After a scoreless first half, the Hoyas rallied from a 7-0 third-quarter deficit to defeat Holy Cross for the first time since 1999.
“To come here for our first home game, homecoming, and to be able to really turn things around, it really means a lot to the program,” said Junior wide receiver John O’Leary, whose fourth-quarter touchdown catch sealed the victory. “And it’s going to give us a lot of momentum going forward.”
Georgetown quarterback Scott Darby completed 26 of 44 passes, but it was the junior’s ability to lead the option and scramble away from pressure that allowed the Hoyas to consistently move the ball in the second half. The junior ran for 98 yards on 24 carries in addition to his 191 yards in the air and showed a penchant for getting just beyond the first-down marker. Darby’s effort was good for Patriot League offensive player of the week, the second time he has won the award this season.
Senior slot receiver Keerome Lawrence caught eight passes for 51 yards and ran for 22 yards on the ground on two carries, and O’Leary-who missed the Hoyas’ first two games with an injured back-notched six receptions for 47 yards and a touchdown.
But it was the Hoya defense that carried the day, surrendering a lone touchdown after a Darby fumble that gave Holy Cross the ball at the Georgetown 41. The Blue and Gray defense kept the game close until the offense put everything together in the second half, and once Georgetown took the lead, Holy Cross showed no signs of being able to drive the length of the field to mount a comeback. The stifling defense held the Crusaders to 262 yards, and Georgetown outgained Holy Cross 167-86 on the ground. Holy Cross senior quarterback Ryan Taggart was limited to 163 yards on 22-for-34 passing, and the Crusaders never exhibited any downfield aerial threat against the Hoyas’ secondary.
A defensive slugfest in the first half saw the two teams enter the locker room locked in a scoreless tie. Both defenses prevented the other team from moving the ball effectively in the first two quarters, and neither side reached the red zone.
Holy Cross took the ball on its opening drive at the 28 and drove to the Georgetown 39, but a fourth-and-one run up the gut was stopped short. The two teams fought for field possession for the remainder of the opening quarter, each punting twice, before Georgetown finally got its first scoring opportunity early in the second.
Freshman running back Dalen Claytor burst 20 yards down the sideline on a short pass in the flat to the Holy Cross 34. Three plays later, Georgetown faced fourth-and-two at the Holy Cross 25, but rather than attempting a 42-yard field goal, the Hoyas went for it, but a downfield pass intended for O’Leary fell incomplete.
After trading punts in the field position battle, Holy Cross looked like it might finally break the deadlock with about five minutes remaining in the second quarter. But after the Crusaders moved the ball to the Hoyas’ 36, a pair of false start penalties stalled the drive and the contest remained scoreless through 30 minutes.
“That first half was like a tennis match,” Georgetown Head Coach Kevin Kelly said. “Everybody was volleying and nobody was scoring any points.”
But a rejuvenated Georgetown offense came out of the locker room, driving the ball deep into Holy Cross territory on the opening possession before the Hoyas’ only turnover short-circuited the possession. On third-and-three at the Crusader 24, Darby kept the ball on the option and had it knocked loose, with the ball falling right at the feet of Holy Cross senior defensive lineman Mude Ohimor, who returned the ball 34 yards to the Georgetown 41. The Crusaders took advantage of the game’s first giveaway to open up the scoring. On the sixth play of the ensuing drive, Taggart hit sophomore wide receiver Gerald Mistretta for a 12-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
“We had a little bit of a letdown there,” Kelly said. “At that point in the game it could have gone the other way, but again, it’s a credit to the kids, they dug right in.”
Sophomore defensive back Jeremy Moore – last week’s Patriot League special teams player of the week – gave Georgetown great field position on the ensuing kickoff with a return to the 47. The Hoyas then went on a 15-play, 39-yard drive that included a pair of fourth-and-7 conversions, capping it off with a 31-yard field goal to get on the scoreboard.
The game remained 7-3 until a sack by junior defensive back Jayah Kaisamba and senior defensive linebacker Danny Thompson forced Holy Cross to punt from its own 16 early in the fourth, and freshman slot receiver Zack Wilke’s 16-yard return to the Holy Cross 40 gave Georgetown its best field position of the afternoon. The Hoyas continued to pound the Crusader defense with option runs, which along with a couple of screens to Lawrence moved the ball to the seven. Senior running back Philip Oladeji then punched it into the end zone with a powerful inside run, and Georgetown grabbed a 10-7 advantage that brought the crowd to life.
After a Holy Cross three-and-out and a short punt to the 50 with 6:28 remaining, the Hoyas marched down the field again to put the game away. A seven-yard third-down completion to Lawrence gave Georgetown a first down at the 36, and two plays later, Lawrence took a snap in the wildcat formation and ran 22 yards around the right side of to the nine-yard line. A couple short rushing plays left the Hoyas with third-and-goal from the seven, and when Darby dropped back to pass he found O’Leary wide open in the end zone for a touchdown that all but clinched the victory.
“It felt really good to seal the game like that,” O’Leary said. “[Offensive Coordinator David] Patenaude just made a great call. It couldn’t have been better actually, I was wide open . [and] Scott made a good throw.”
Holy Cross took over at its own 20 with 2:46 to go, needing a miraculous comeback, and when senior linebacker Paul Sant’Ambrogio intercepted Taggart’s pass with 1:30 left, the celebration began on the Hilltop.