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

The Butler Didn’t Do It

In what was touted to be a highly offensive matchup, the Georgetown-Butler football game did not disappoint, ending in a 57-56 Hoya overtime win. The game featured 1,106 yards of total offense, 595 of them by the Hoyas.

Senior wide receiver Gharun Hester and sophomore quarterback Dave Paulus stepped up for the Hoya offense, with Hester breaking three school records during the game. His five touchdown receptions and 271 receiving yards were both school bests, and Hester now tops all Georgetown receivers, past and present, with 31 career touchdown receptions. His record-breaking efforts also earned him recognition as one of three Division I-AA player Independent players of the week. Paulus set a school record with six touchdown passes. The two players believe their styles of play compliment each other well.

“If I can scramble, and the defense has to worry about me, and I’ve got a 6-foot-4 All-American receiver downfield -yeah, we definitely compliment each other,” Paulus (71 yards on 12 carries) said.

Amid the background of this epic struggle, however, these records were mere sidenotes in a titanic homecoming struggle.

Butler grabbed the early lead, capitalizing on a Georgetown fumble on its first possession, to go ahead 7-0 on an 80-yard run by Ryan Zimpleman, who had 161 yards rushing on the day. The Hoyas answered, scoring on the ensuing drive that featured a huge pass from Paulus to Hester, his first of nine receptions on the day, setting Georgetown up on the nine-yard line. Paulus later connected with senior receiver George Sumner to knot the contest at seven.

Butler wasted little time, marching back down the field and pushing it in on a one-yard dive over the goal line by Butler quarterback DeWayne Ewing (25-40 for 346 yards and three touchdowns). Ewing scored again seven minutes and 17 seconds later in a nearly identical fashion for his second rushing touchdown of the game, widening the lead to 14, at 21-7.

Two Georgetown possessions later, Paulus and Hester took over offensively for the Hoyas. Paulus found his primary receiver twice, once for a huge gain of 33 yards and again soon afterward as Hester tap danced his way through two tackles into the endzone for the score. In what became a recurring event, Butler sliced through an ineffective Georgetown defense to regain their 14-point cushion, 28-14. The Hoyas would score on their next possession, taking advantage of a gutsy fourth and two conversion, to tack on three more points, courtesy of Marc Samuel’s leg, as the teams broke for halftime.

As the Hoyas returned to the field in the second half, they dominated early in the third quarter.

“We were focused,” Hester said. “We knew we could move the ball, and we came out ready to go.”

And indeed the Hoyas were, after a huge kick-off return by sophomore David Wingate-Robinson to the Butler 34-yard line. Paulus wasted no time hitting Hester on the first play from the line of scrimmage for a touchdown, making it 28-24.

The Hoyas tried to keep the Bulldogs reeling with a beautifully executed onsides kick, but a penalty was thrown against Georgetown for interference, negating the Georgetown recovery and giving Butler good field position on the 50-yard line. The Hoyas would catch a break, scooping up a Bulldog fumble on the ensuing drive.

Head Coach Bob Benson wasted no time returning to the Paulus and Hester show. The duo continued to make the Butler secondary look short and slow, as they combined for two more completions with eleven minutes and nine seconds remaining in the third. The drive ended with another Hester touchdown, putting the Hoyas up for the first time in the game, 31-28.

“We took complete control of the third quarter,” Benson said, “for a second anyway.”

It definitely seemed that way, as Ewing and the Bulldog offense continued to dismantle the Hoya defense with ease, scoring again one minute and 49 seconds after taking possession to regain the lead, 35-31.

“We tried to mix it up [defensively],” Benson said. “We didn’t do a great job, obviously.”

The quick reversal of fortune mounted, as on the next Hoya drive a high snap on fourth down resulted in a blocked punt with Butler recovering on the Georgetown 18-yard line.

After Butler pushed it to the three-yard line, it looked as though the Hoya defense would recover its posture and hold out on yet another goal-line stand, but on fourth and goal, Ewing converted for a touchdown on a play-action pass to tight end Brandon Willett.

With the score 42-31 late in the third, the Hoyas’ woes continued, as a Paulus pass bounced off of Sumner’s hands and was intercepted. This time, however, the Georgetown defense proved capable, stopping Butler and forcing a missed field goal, which would come back to haunt the Bulldogs.

After regaining possession, Georgetown went with what worked, and Paulus hit Hester again, this time for a 69-yard touchdown. The Hoyas went for two but failed to convert. After stopping the Bulldogs and getting the ball back, the Hoyas proved they could score without the talents of Hester as well, driving 72 yards for the score. Senior running back Alex Fonti capped the drive with a one-yard touchdown run.

“He’s a tough football player that we all have a lot of respect for,” Benson said of Fonti, who had 57 yards on 12 carries to go with his two touchdowns. “His play was key to the win.”

Butler took possession on the Georgetown 29-yard line, and on first down, what seemed to be a Butler fumble off a reception was instead ruled an incomplete pass. The Bulldogs retained possession and came up with a clutch conversion on third and 15, pushing it down to the Georgetown 16-yard line. Ryan Zimpleman scored his second touchdown of the day and the Bulldogs converted on their two-point attempt to retake the lead, 50-43.

With 2:09 left on the clock, the Hoyas marched down the field, getting a first on a fourth and inches dive quarterback sneak by Paulus. Georgetown went right back to work getting the ball to Hester. While a pass near the Butler end zone intended for Hester went incomplete, a pass interference call left the Hoyas at the 15-yard line. Paulus then ran the ball down to the one-yard line on a bootleg.

It got scary, however, as Paulus made the mistake of not throwing the ball away when he was in trouble on first and goal, instead dumping it off to junior tight end David Cote for a 16-yard loss. Things looked bad for the Hoyas when Hester made his case for why he is the most clutch player in Georgetown history.

Paulus let fly with a pass over the middle and Hester leapt up amid three defenders to come down with the ball for a touchdown.

It looked as though the Hoyas would go for the win then and there, as Georgetown lined up for another two point conversion, but the play clock ran out, and Benson sent Samuel back in to kick the tying extra point.

At the end of regulation, with the score tied 50 apiece, the teams entered the standard NCAA format of alternating possessions. The format gives each team the ball on the 25-yard line with a chance for two first downs. If one team scores more points than the other after both have had an equal number of possessions, that team is declared the winner.

The Hoyas took the first possession in the overtime. Georgetown scored in short order, handing off to Fonti for the score. Samuel added the extra point to put the Hoyas up, 57-50.

In a game that had featured nothing but offense, it would come down to defense for Georgetown. After the Bulldogs scored a touchdown on their possesion, Butler elected to go for broke and the two point conversion for the win.

“It has a 30 percent success rate,” Benson said of the statistical average for the two-point conversion. “You’re taking a chance.”

Butler went to the air in a timing pattern, but the receiver was nowhere near the ball, and it fell to the ground giving the Hoyas the win, 57-56, the highest total score in a football game in the history of either school.

In spite of their record breaking performances, both Hester and Paulus were both more concerned with the game’s outcome.

“We got the win,” said Paulus, who finished the day passing for 393 yards with 25 completions in 34 attempts.

Hester agreed. “It feels that much better that we got the win,” he said. “Now we get to be regular students and go party a little.”

Georgetown next plays host to Fordham, Saturday at 1 p.m. on Kehoe Field.

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