The Georgetown football team will travel to Easton, Pa., to play its second straight conference road game against the Lafayette Leopards on Saturday.
After an impressive 3-0 start, the Hoyas (3-4, 0-2 Patriot League) suffered four consecutive losses, the last two of which were against the top two teams in the Patriot League: Lehigh (6-2, 3-0 Patriot League) and Fordham (5-2, 2-0 Patriot League). Last Saturday, Georgetown managed to remain tied with Fordham into the fourth quarter but ultimately fell 17-14.
The Blue and Gray seek to improve their fortunes against a Lafayette (1-7, 0-3 Patriot League) program that has struggled in recent years. Last season, the Leopards finished 1-10 overall. This year has yet to bring new hope, as the team has dropped seven straight games following a win over Central Connecticut State (1-6, 0-2 Northeast Conference) in its season opener. Most recently, Lafayette’s defense allowed 259 rushing yards and three fourth-quarter touchdowns in a 42-17 collapse at Bucknell (3-4, 2-1 Patriot League).
Nonetheless, the Leopard offense presents a host of challenges. Senior quarterbacks Drew Reed and Blake Searfoss have both seen playing time this season, combining for over 2,000 passing yards. The offense has been creative in its schemes, moving freshman linebacker Mike Dunn to the running back position last week, where he gained 58 rushing yards and a touchdown.
“Coach [Mickey] Fein, the offensive coordinator, finds a way to move the football,” Georgetown Head Coach Rob Sgarlata said. “I think they’re starting to think they can be a little bit more balanced, It will be interesting to see what they roll out for us.”
Junior wide receiver Matt Mrazek leads the team’s receivers with eight touchdowns in as many games this season. His 124 career receptions place him in the top 10 in Lafayette’s history in that category. Smaller and younger receivers freshman Yasir Thomas and sophomore Joey Chenoweth add speed to the passing attack.
“They have a solid receiving corps with No. 17 [Mrazek],” sophomore cornerback Ramon Lyons, who earned a Patriot League Honorable Mention selection last week, said. “We think it will be a good matchup between [the receivers] and the DBs — it’s going to be a battle all Saturday.”
The Georgetown defense limited an offense that averaged 46 points per game to just 17 last week. Fordham’s running back junior Chase Edmonds — who has tallied twelve touchdowns this season — never found the end zone on Saturday. The Hoyas’ defensive effort was bolstered by underclassmen including Lyons, freshmen defensive linemen Khristian Tate and Marquis Parris and sophomore linebacker J’V’on Butler.
“Our kids did a great job running to the football, and I think that was a big deal on Saturday. We’ve had outstanding effort on both sides of the ball but especially defensively last week against one of the best backs in I-AA,” Sgarlata said.
On the other side of the ball, the Hoya offense will look to improve upon its struggles since senior quarterback Tim Barnes’ season-ending shoulder injury. Against Fordham, sophomore quarterback Clay Norris left the game after throwing three interceptions, and freshman Brock Johnson came in, completing 8-of-14 passes for 57 yards. Sgarlata said that the coaching staff has not yet made a decision on who will start this Saturday.
Though the offense has produced a share of long plays this season — including three touchdowns of 50 yards or more — it has seen struggles in the ground game. Running backs junior Isaac Ellsworth, sophomore Christian Bermudez and junior Alex Valles combined for a mere 19 yards on 14 carries last week.
However, stopping the run has been by far Lafayette’s largest weakness. The Leopards have surrendered more than 500 rushing yards twice this year. Leading the defense is junior linebacker Michael Root, who made a career-high 15 tackles last week.
“They’re pretty solid up front – a sound defense – but we think that we can use our speed to get around them,” Ellsworth said. “We’re really determined to get the run game going this week.”
After travelling to New York, the Hoyas will have to weather another road atmosphere on Saturday. However, Sgarlata noted that the Georgetown faithful never fail to turn out.
“I love playing at Lafayette. It’s a great stadium, it’s a good atmosphere and any time we go north we get close to our alums and our fans. We had a great crowd on a rainy day at Fordham so I appreciate those guys for coming out, and going to Lafayette for us is a short trip so no problems with going up there,” Sgarlata said.
Kickoff is set for 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Fisher Stadium.
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