Football | Harvard to Test Surging GU

FILE PHOTO: ISABEL BINAMIRA/THE HOYA Senior wide receiver Justin Hill returns to action this weekend. He has two touchdowns this season.

Senior wide receiver Justin Hill returns to action this weekend. He has two touchdowns this season.

The Georgetown football team (3-0) will travel to Cambridge, Massachusetts to take on No. 19 Harvard (2-0, 1-0 Ivy League) this Friday in a battle of two unbeaten squads.

The Hoyas are seeking to redeem themselves against the school that handed them their worst loss of last season, a 45-0 rout at Harvard Stadium. This year, the team has wiped away the memory of that performance.

“It’s a new year, that stuff’s all in the past — just going in excited for an opportunity. It’s another game, another opponent, so it’s just a new year and we’re excited,” senior quarterback and captain Tim Barnes said.

Harvard will be led by senior quarterback Joe Viviano, a dual threat who threw for 205 yards and ran for two scores in a 32-22 win against Brown (1-1, 0-1 Ivy League) last week. The 6-foot-5 Pennsylvania native commands the starting role of quarterback for the first season. Junior running back Semar Smith, who already has three touchdowns this year, will add to the Crimson’s dynamic rushing attack.

“Our goal as a defense is just to stop the run, and I think our defensive line has been doing a great job all year,” Georgetown senior linebacker Leo Loughrey said. Loughrey adds experience to the Hoyas’ defense, responsible for 18 tackles this season.

Heading the Crimson defensive effort is senior cornerback Sean Ahern, the team’s captain. Ahern holds two All-Ivy League first team selections, and has a forced fumble and two tackles for loss this season. Nonetheless, stopping the passing game has been a bit of an issue for the Harvard defense, which has given 255 yards per game through the air this season.

The Hoya offense will look to senior wide receiver Justin Hill, who returns this week after missing the Columbia game, and junior wide receiver Justin Harrell, who missed all of last season due to injury. Both players have a pair of touchdowns so far this season.

Tim Barnes was 16-of-30 for 124 yards and scored a touchdown last week, but hopes to improve on his performance.

“I didn’t play very well last week, and coach put us in the right plays, I just got to make better throws and just execute better,” Barnes said.

Another key for the offense will be keeping drives alive. Last week against Columbia, Georgetown had only eight total first downs and were just 2-of-17 on third down conversions.

“I think overall execution in our offense has got to be paramount, especially against these good teams we have coming up, we need to be able to move the sticks. Not worried about long drives or putting things all the way together, it’s executing just one, two, three plays in a row and putting together some first downs,” Georgetown Head Coach Rob Sgarlata said.

In what looks to be another major factor on Friday is the turnover battle, as both teams relied heavily on forcing turnovers in their most recent games. The Harvard secondary snatched three interceptions last week, while the Hoyas boasted a plus-four turnover ratio against the Lions.

Both teams have a shorter week of preparation since the game will be played on Friday. Georgetown will also have to account for the long trip, but the team plans to keep most of its normal routine.

“Thursday we’ll travel, and we’ll practice on the way up. We’re really just basically giving up our run-through on Friday. I think it’s a normal routine for the staff and kids as much as possible, which is very important,” Sgarlata said.

The game will likely bring a large crowd. The average attendance for a Harvard home game is over 15,000, let alone a Friday night matchup against an undefeated opponent. The Blue and Gray, however, are looking forward to the atmosphere.

“There’s no better place to play than Friday night against a ranked team, away, on TV. So we’ve been looking forward to this one, to get back up to Harvard, honestly since last year’s game. So it’s an exciting week,” Sgarlata said.

Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m. Friday at Harvard Stadium. The game will be broadcast on ESPN3.

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