Despite closing the game with 10 unanswered points, the Georgetown football team lost by a narrow 21-20 margin against the Holy Cross Crusaders on Saturday.

This marks the Hoyas’ (3-6, 0-4 Patriot League) sixth loss in a row, five of which were by 14 points or less, and all of which were without injured senior quarterback Tim Barnes.

Early in the game, it appeared that Georgetown was likely to repeat its 45-7 loss against Holy Cross (4-6, 2-3 Patriot League) last year. On the first defensive play from scrimmage, the Hoyas allowed senior receiver Brendan Flaherty to get behind them and haul in a 46-yard deep ball that would have been a touchdown had he not tripped. The Crusaders capped off the drive seven plays later to take a quick 7-0 lead.

However, Georgetown’s special teams responded immediately. Freshman receiver Michael Dereus fielded the ensuing kickoff at the goal line, ran right, then made a quick cutback and beat the kicker to the corner, taking it all the way to the house to tie the score at seven. It was the team’s first kick return for a touchdown since 2010.

Holy Cross made the game’s next big play when sophomore quarterback Geoff Wade found Flaherty wide open down the field again, this time good for 80 yards to the Georgetown 5-yard line. Wade threw a fade route to the end zone on third-and-goal to complete the drive, and the Crusaders regained the lead 14-7.

The Hoyas responded with a strong offensive drive of their own, in which sophomore quarterback Clay Norris connected strings of short passes for first downs. The young quarterback also showed how comfortable he was moving in the pocket as he dodged sacks and occasionally gained yardage with his legs.

“[Norris] did a good job managing the game. There were a couple plays that broke down, and he pulled the ball down and took off,” Georgetown Head Coach Rob Sgarlata said.

Georgetown stalled in Holy Cross territory, however, and senior kicker Henry Darmstadter booted a 46-yard field goal attempt off the crossbar and through the uprights to cut the deficit to 14-10 in the second quarter. The kick gave Darmstadter the most career field goals in program history with 25.

“Henry’s been doing that for years here for us, I have a lot of confidence in him, I trust him,” Sgarlata said of his senior kicker.

After another long passing play from Holy Cross led to a touchdown to make it 21-10, Georgetown marched back into the red zone. The team lined up for a field goal on fourth down, but Norris, the holder, took the snap, stood up and found junior tight end Jacob Sweitzer for the first-down conversion. The special teams gamble paid off when junior running back Alex Valles finished the drive with a four-yard touchdown run, tightening the game to 21-17 just before halftime.

In the second half, the offense picked up right where it left off, moving the ball methodically and converting third downs, something it has struggled to do all season. Senior receiver Justin Hill became Norris’ favorite target, finishing the game with a season-high 12 receptions for 85 yards.

“I didn’t know if we were going to target [Hill] as much as we did, but he made a lot of plays with the routes we called for him,” Norris said.

Darmstadter added his second field goal of the game, this time from 49 yards out, a new career best for the senior, making it a 21-20 barn burner.

Meanwhile, the Hoya defense remained stiff and did not allow any second- half points. Penetration from the defensive line forced several hurried throws and resulted in three sacks.

“It makes it really easy to play in the secondary,” junior defensive back Jelani Williamson said. “We made it a point to get to the quarterback, and our coaches and defensive line did an excellent job.”

Ultimately, the team was unable to continue its momentum as the offense slowed in the fourth quarter. After Sgarlata used all three timeouts, the Hoyas had a final chance with the ball at their own 1-yard line and under two minutes remaining. After converting a few up-tempo first downs, Norris threw a rather desperate pass looking for senior receiver Tommy Jesson, which was tipped and intercepted with 19 seconds left, solidifying Georgetown’s loss.

Norris finished 25 of 37 for 185 passing yards and added 56 rushing yards on 14 attempts. Defensively, senior defensive lineman Hunter Kiselick and sophomore linebacker J’V’on Butler led the team with nine tackles apiece. Williamson had an interception and a forced fumble, neither of which the offense could convert into points.

“The kids played hard; I love the effort,” Sgarlata said. “But I told [the players] that just playing hard isn’t enough, you have to make some plays down the stretch.”

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