Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Senior Tailback Channels Freshman Form

Charlie Houghton always comes back. No matter how hard opponents may try, they just can’t finish him off. For almost four seasons now, Houghton has been Georgetown’s lead speed train, carrying each year’s offensive unit. That machine-like talent of the former All-Canada running back was on display in front of more than 19,000 people last Saturday at Old Dominion, a game in which Houghton rushed for 112 yards on 19 carries in defeat, the first 100-yard rushing game of the season for a Hoya.

“It feels great,” Houghton said. “The line did a good job opening up holes and I just saw the green. It worked.”

He has good reason to be happy. Georgetown’s ground game seemed to have a hit a wall until Houghton’s big game against Old Dominion. The Hoyas have rushed 193 times, gaining just 329 yards – 1.7 yards per rush.

Now, those stats don’t tell the whole truth. They include sacks on the quarterback that can wipe out 15 or 20 good yards. Nevertheless, the spiral has been kinder than the handoff this year, more than 1,100 yards nicer as Georgetown has gained 1,459 yards through the air. So what was so different about Saturday that Houghton was able to explode?

“We mixed it up,” Houghton said. “We had a good mix of runs and we got the ball outside. A lot of pitches and slots – it kept the defense off-balance and I saw a lot of holes.” He also attributed the imbalance to his team’s young quarterbacks Isaiah Kempf and Scott Darby, whom the coaches have allowed to throw more in order to get their confidence up at the collegiate level.

At 6-foot and 215 pounds, Houghton’s confidence is a given. He speaks clearly and matter-of-factly about the game, but always with a smile. Interestingly, with his build he looks more suited for kick returns – which he also handles – and receiver duties, rather than the pounding a running back has to take on each play. This is why the offensive line’s great performance on Saturday was crucial to those 100-plus yards that make statistical geeks go crazy.

“[The offensive line] has definitely come a long way. They’re picking up blocks much better and have done a great job getting things outside – that’s key to opening things up and exploiting facets of the defense,” Houghton said, with emphasis on the “key.”

Don’t think that Houghton’s skills are totally dependent on his line. The kid can pretty much do whatever you ask. In his career, he has rushed 247 times for 1,138 yards, averaging 4.6 yards per carry. He also has 77 receptions for 669 yards and has returned 36 kickoffs for 774 yards. Add it all up, and Charlie Houghton has gained 2,581 all-purpose yards for the Blue and Gray over the last four years, including this season.

Again, the stats can lie to us. And put an asterisk next to those numbers too, because something’s not right about them: They’re too low. Houghton has waged war with his body during the previous three years, in which he suffered a sports hernia, a hyper extended left elbow, turf toe, a sprained left wrist and a broken foot – a lot to deal with and still accumulate yardage at the rate Houghton does. Last year was the worst by far in terms of injury, in which he was limited to just three of the Hoyas’ ten games due to the broken foot. The good news is that last year’s lost season gave Houghton a medical redshirt and another year of eligibility, allowing him to suit up in Blue and Gray one more time in 2010.

“This year has been a lot better – there were no big injuries, so I can keep progressing with my teammates,” Houghton said. “Personally, I just play hard, to the best of my ability and just run the ball hard.”

No other team knows the best of his ability like the Marist Red Foxes. Number 23 has throttled the Marist defense in the two games he has played against them. During his rookie season, he rushed 14 times for 71 yards and caught three passes for 26 yards, including one for a touchdown. The next year, he played his career game in a Georgetown uniform. He rushed 27 times for 163 yards (a career-high), scoring four touchdowns in the loss. In those two games, he averaged 5.7 yards per rush.

However, Marist may have to adjust its game plan for the Toronto native this time around, as this season he has been lining up in the slot on a lot of downs.

“A lot of motions, a lot of pitch-options; I’ll do what I can to make yardage, but I’m happy about the change,” Houghton said.

The move gives Houghton another advantage: more field vision. “I know where everyone is and what their leverage is on the field. I can see what’s going on better and it has augmented my game,”

Houghton said, enthusiastically. “I definitely prefer the switch.”

Yet football statistics mean nothing. They may tell you how talented Charlie Houghton is, but they do not tell you how hungry he is to win. Marist always seems to be a bright time of the year for the tailback, but the Hoyas certainly remember Marist also: The last time the Hoyas won a football game, it was against the Red Foxes by a score of 13-12 in a bruising mêlée. It’s been nine games and 364 days since Georgetown has scored more points than its opponent.

Houghton may be just the answer to his team’s problems. He said that the Old Dominion game was the most he was used all year, and that trend will most likely continue. As for a repeat career game against Marist, Houghton laughed.

“You never know,” he said before taking on a more serious tone. “It’s always tight with them and it’s no different this year. I’m going to execute my phase of the game and we’ll do what we can. I have no personal goals, except to get some touchdowns, but I’ll do what I have to do to get that win.”

It’s full speed ahead for Houghton and the Hoyas to New York on Saturday, the final road game of the season before two home games that will wrap up the 2009 season.

“We need to execute,” Houghton said bluntly but confidently. “The results will come. This is a good team, but whether or not we execute will determine everything.”

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