The Georgetown football team looks to bounce back in the Patriot League this weekend against Holy Cross after dropping its first two conference games of the season.

DERRICK ARTHUR-CUDJOE/THE HOYA
Junior linebacker J’V’on Butler has recorded ten tackles this season to go along with one sack and two pass deflections.

The Hoyas (1-6, 0-2 Patriot League) lost 17-9 in a close game last week to the Fordham Rams (2-6, 1-2 Patriot League). The Hoyas secured their first lead since their Oct. 7 match against the Princeton Tigers (5-1, 2-1 Ivy League) after kicking a field goal in the third quarter to go up 9-8.

However, the lead was short-lived as the Hoyas allowed a touchdown and a field goal to lose their sixth consecutive game.

Though winless in the Patriot League, Georgetown is still within two games of Lehigh, the first-place team. Head Coach Rob Sgarlata said that the narrow gap between first and last in the league is a constant source of motivation for the team as it prepares for Holy Cross (2-6, 1-2 Patriot League).

“Any time that you play in the Patriot League, you want to do well. Superb things have happened in the Patriot League, so all we can do is try to take care of our destiny and get our first win in the league this weekend,” Sgarlata said.

The Hoyas’ inefficiency on offense has been a persistent problem throughout all their games this season. Last week, the Hoyas converted 2-of-14 third downs, and they have converted less than 20 percent (19-of-96) of third downs on the season.

Sophomore quarterback Gunther Johnson said that one way to improve the team’s third down percentage is to gain more yards on first down and second down. The strategy could prove to play a big role against the Crusaders.

“[Improving our offensive efficiency] just means on first and second down, getting at least three or four yards every time so that way, we don’t have third and 10 plus, which we probably won’t convert because it’s highly unlikely. So this week, we’re just focused on first and second downs and getting yards on those,” Johnson said.

Sgarlata mentioned that, to improve on their play last week, the Hoyas need to identify weaknesses from previous games. The Hoyas’ most glaring problem against the Rams was their offense.  After scoring 30 points against Princeton and 35 points against Lehigh (2-5, 2-0 Patriot League) in the previous two weeks,  the Georgetown offense faltered against Fordham, scoring only nine points.

Time of possession has been a deciding factor for many of the Hoyas’ games this season. Against Fordham, Georgetown held the ball for 25 minutes to Fordham’s 35 minutes. On average, opponents hold the ball for almost nine minutes more than the Hoyas do. This parity tires the defense and gives the opposing offense more time to drive down the field and put points on the board.

“The biggest thing last week was one of our Achilles heels was on offense, being able to stay on the field on third down. Six of the seven penalties we had last week were on offensive, and [they] continually put us behind the sticks,” Sgarlata said.

The Holy Cross offense is led by senior quarterback Peter Pujals, who serves as the team captain and has thrown 13 touchdowns this season. Sgarlata said that Georgetown needs to improve its performance in time of possession to limit the dangerous Crusader offense.

“Especially when you play a team like Holy Cross with Peter Pujals, you don’t want to give them the ball for 40 minutes in a game. That’s been a huge focus for us offensively, and hopefully we can limit their touches by being efficient on our side,” Sgarlata said.

One of the more encouraging aspects of last weekend’s game against the Rams was the Hoya defense. After allowing an average of 45 points per game over the last four weeks, the Hoyas defense allowed only 17 to the Rams’ offense.

Senior linebacker Daniel Yankovich, who led the defense with 11 tackles last week, said that pressuring Rams quarterback Luke Medlock was crucial to a strong defensive performance.

“We haven’t been getting to the quarterback as much as we wanted to, but last week, we put in a bunch of pressures,” Yankovich said. “I feel like that helped us out. Didn’t get any turnovers, which we would’ve wanted, but I feel like we got them running around and making bad decisions, and we got some sacks, which obviously helped us have a good game.”

Yankovich added that the contest against Holy Cross is more than just a Patriot League game.

“We always have battles with Holy Cross, so it should be a good game, and obviously, we want to go up there and beat them my senior year. We want to get the last laugh, so hopefully, we can go up there and get a win,” Yankovich said.

Kickoff is at 1 p.m. Saturday in Worcester, Mass. A live stream of the game will be available on the Patriot League Network.

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