Charles Nailen/The Hoya Sophomore wide receiver Dominique Saunders helplessly observes a postgame celebration by the Monmouth Hawks. A last-minute drive gave the Hawks a 12-10 win.

Georgetown and Monmouth fought a largely defensive battle in warm, humid weather Saturday afternoon at Harbin Field. The Hawks came through with a late scoring drive to hand the Hoyas their third loss in as many weeks, a 12-10 defeat.

The clubs combined for just 503 offensive yards. Georgetown’s ground game managed 145 yards on 34 carries, a healthy sum considering Monmouth had allowed just 19 total yards rushing in its first two matches of the season. The Hoyas meanwhile held the Hawks’ lead back, senior Joe Migliore, to just 15 yards on 11 carries, though sophomore quarterback Brian Boland completed 23 passes for 204 yards.

Georgetown senior linebacker Andrew Clarke was quiet on the defensive line, notching five tackles and one forced fumble. His onmouth counterpart, senior linebacker Joe Sentipal, got much support from his fellow linemen, recording a game-high 12 tackles, including three for a loss.

“Our defensive line did a great job,” Sentipal said. “They freed me up a little bit.”

The victory preserved Monmouth’s (3-0, 1-0 NEC) position atop the Northeast Conference, tied with Sacred Heart for first place. Georgetown (0-3, 0-2 Patriot) remained last in the Patriot League and opened the year with three straight defeats for the first time since 1989.

The Hoyas held the lead for all of the second half before the Hawks marched 68 yards in the final two and a half minutes for the go-ahead score.

“We came through with big plays at the end,” onmouth senior wide receiver Pete Raspitzi, who scored the winning touchdown, said. “[This victory] gives us a little bit of respect.”

The contest was marred by turnovers, costly penalties and miscues on special teams. Georgetown junior quarterback Andrew Crawford threw three interceptions while the Hoya defense picked off Boland twice, including once in their own end zone.

The Georgetown secondary recorded two pass interference penalties on third-and-long, giving the Hawks new life – setting up the second field goal of the afternoon for Monmouth junior place kicker Steve Andriola, as well as the Hawks’ final drive of the game.

Andriola and Georgetown sophomore kicker Michael Gillman, making his first appearance since sustaining a hip injury in the preseason, each missed a field goal attempt. Gillman had a second kick blocked.

The Hoyas came out running the ball, carrying for 20 yards on the first four plays. But the Hawk defense stood firm on third down, and sophomore running back Marcus Slayton’s fourth-and-two conversion effort fell short of the first-down marker at the Hawks’ 48.

Sophomore nose guard Robert LaHayne and senior defensive end Ryan McGovern came together to sack Boland for a seven-yard loss on onmouth’s first play from scrimmage, preventing the Hawks from taking advantage of good field position early. They punted to Georgetown, but the offense sputtered as junior cornerback Rob Lomoriello nearly intercepted Crawford and the Hoyas went three-and-out.

Senior Billy Worfolk returned the ball across midfield, setting up Andriola’s first field goal of the day, a 41-yard boot. The key play was an offside call against Georgetown on fourth-and-one at its 37 to give Monmouth another opportunity to get into field-goal range.

The Hoyas found their stride on the ensuing drive, but that momentum vanished when a Crawford pass to junior tight end Jordan Jarry was nabbed by Monmouth’s Sentipal at his team’s 32-yard line. Clarke forced a fumble on the next play, but Georgetown could only go backwards, losing seven yards on three snaps.

Neither team managed to advance the ball much until the Hawks put together another drive midway through the second quarter. The Hoya defense committed a costly pass interference penalty on third-and-six at their 28-yard line but held firm on the next set of downs, forcing Monmouth to settle for a 26-yard field goal and a 6-0 lead.

Freshman quarterback Alondzo Turner spurred the Georgetown offense into action with under four minutes to go in the first half, carrying four times for 29 yards and converting a crucial fourth down. Crawford returned, completing a six-yard throw to senior wide receiver Walter Bowser before hooking up with senior wide receiver Luke McArdle for a 31-yard score. The Hoyas went into the locker room nursing a 7-6 lead.

Mistakes began to add up for both teams in the third quarter, but strong defensive efforts prevented any scoring. Georgetown sophomore defensive back Jesse Paterson intercepted Boland on the opening play of the second half. But when fourth down came up for the Hoyas, Gillman’s 35-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left.

Defense dominated for the remainder of the period. The Monmouth secondary came up with a huge interception at the Georgetown 41. The Hoyas looked poised to surrender their one-point edge until junior cornerback Byron Anderson beat out the Hawks’ senior wide receiver Billy Lynn in the corner of the end zone to record his sixth career interception.

Georgetown moved the ball to its 47 before punting. Return man Worfolk failed to position himself for the catch and had to dive for the ball at the last second. The pigskin slipped out of his hands and was quickly covered by Hoya defensive back Derek Franks, giving Georgetown new life at the Monmouth 21.

The Hawks made a goal line stand, forcing the Hoyas to go for three points. Gillman’s attempt from 19 yards out was blocked but he received another chance three minutes later following a onmouth fumble. Georgetown moved the margin to 10-6 with 7:33 to play.

Monmouth bounced back, as Boland went 3-of-5 and carried twice for 20 yards to move the ball into the red zone. This time, it was the Hoya defense making a stand, holding the Hawks to a field goal attempt. Andriola’s kick was wide right, and Georgetown got the ball and kept the lead with 5:01 left in the contest.

Crawford faced a barrage of defenders on the ensuing drive with onmouth calling blitz after blitz. The Hoyas lost five yards as they went three-and-out.

Monmouth took advantage of Georgetown’s prevent defense, as Boland completed twice to sophomore wide receiver Miles Austin and three times to Raspitzi, including a 10-yard touchdown grab.

“We should have stuck with the pressure defense,” Clarke said.

Andriola missed the extra point but the damage was done. The Hawks were up 12-10 with 17.8 seconds to play. A lateral by McArdle to sophomore running back Kim Sarin on the return got the Hoyas to the Monmouth 44, but a last-gasp Hail Mary fell to the ground as time expired.

“It’s a big loss. It’s a tremendous loss. You can’t hide that fact,” head coach Bob Benson said.

The winless Hoyas go on the road for the second time this season to visit VMI in Lexington, Va. on Saturday. The Keydets beat Norfolk State, 34-9, last weekend but Georgetown’s sour losses have made it hard for the team to stay focused.

“Every little thing now is a challenge,” Benson said. “We’ve got to regroup and take a look at what we’re doing.”

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