CHRIS BIEN/THE HOYA Junior slot receiver Max Waizenegger catches the first of two touchdown passes in the Hoyas’ 14-13 win Saturday night.
Junior slot receiver Max Waizenegger catches the first of two touchdown passes in the Hoyas’ 14-13 win Saturday night.

A week after showing off a powerful offense that steamrolledDavidson, Georgetown’s football team (2-0, 1-0 Patriot League) squeaked past Lafayette (0-2, 0-1 Patriot League) 14-13 on the back of a stellar defensive play and two touchdown passes.

For a while it looked like the defense’s performance would be in vain, until a late Georgetown touchdown pass and a recovered Lafayette fumble gave the Hoyas their second win of the year in a thrilling league opener.

“If you look at the game, statistically it was about the same. I think both sides were roughly equal,” Head Coach Kevin Kelly said. “As far as moving the football, it was a defensive battle, but we made the plays when we needed to at the end of the ballgame.”

The travails of both teams’ offenses became clear almost immediately when the Leopards and theHoyas traded unproductive drives to start the game. The Blue and Gray in particular seemed to struggle to convert on third down.

The Leopards opened the scoring with a field goal after senior quarterback Ryan O’Neil’s passing attack had led the visitors down the field.

“We told [the team] before the game that it was going to be a tough, physical game. Every Patriot League game is going to come down to this,” Kelly said. “Lafayette’s going to win a lot of football games this year and our team was very resilient; we didn’t give up.”

Trailing 3-0, junior quarterback Isaiah Kempf struggled to run or pass the football during much of the second quarter. Senior kicker Brett Weiss’s 48-yard field goal attempt sailed wide right, and the Hoyas’ search for an offensive spark continued to be fruitless.

However, the Leopards were doing no better, punting on all three of their second quarter drives. When Georgetown regained the football with 1:25 to go in the half, it didn’t seem a particularly auspicious time for a touchdown drive.

But Kempf suddenly found another gear and the Hoyas began to rapidly move the chains. After connecting on three passes in a row — two to sophomore wide receiver Zack Wilke and one to senior wide receiver Patrick Ryan — the Blue and Gray had the ball on the 19 yard line.

From there, Kempf found junior slot receiver Max Waizenegger on a perfect 19-yard pass, and the Hoyas took a 7-3 lead with 26 seconds to go in the half after Weiss converted the extra point. Lafayette couldn’t muster much offense on their next drive, and Georgetown took the four-point lead into the intermission.

“We had a tough time running the ball tonight,” Kelly said. “It helps the throwing game when you can run the football and that’s something we’ll work on this week.”

Both teams were forced to punt on their opening drives, but the Leopards eventually found some offense in an unexpected source. An injury to O’Neil forced backup quarterback Andrew Shoop into the game, and the junior led a drive that culminated with a 38-yard touchdown pass.

Both teams continued to struggle offensively through the rest of the quarter, though. Georgetown’s defense, led by senior defensive back Wayne Heimuli and senior defensive lineman Andrew Schaetzke, prevented another Shoop-led touchdown drive.

With the Leopards leading 10-7, the stage was set for an exciting fourth quarter and the Hoyas did not disappoint.

After Lafayette connected on a 31-yard field goal, it was time for the Georgetown offense to step up. Just as he had at the end of the first half, Kempf led a thrilling 55-yard drive down the field, capped by two spectacular passes — one 22-yard completion to junior wide receiver Jeff Burke and another 13-yard touchdown pass to Waizenegger. Weiss again converted the extra point, giving the Hoyas their second lead of the contest with six minutes left.

“Isaiah’s a great quarterback. He’s a gunslinger; he throws the ball really well. He can really do whatever he wants with it,” Waizenegger said. “I was really in the right place at the right time.”

The Lafayette offense responded immediately, moving the ball almost at will until Georgetown sophomore defensive back Dustin Wharton jumped on a Leopards fumble with 1:10 remaining.

Even then, though, the Hoyas couldn’t just run out the clock as the visitors got the ball back with five seconds left following a punt. Schaetzke sacked Shoop as time expired to extinguish Lafayette’s faint hopes of a comeback, and the Blue and Gray sideline flooded out onto the field.

“We had that last drive, Max made a helluva catch and a run and that sealed it and we had to hold them in terms of getting points at the end,” Kelly said. “Schaetzke stripped the ball and recovered it and that was it.”

Despite the win, the Hoyas know they have significant room for improvement The team was flagged five times for 55 yards in Saturday’s game.

“Those are some of the things you have to clean up after two ballgames and then going into the third week,” Kelly said.

After two home games, Georgetown will go on the road over the next five weeks, starting with a matchup against Yale on Saturday. The Bulldogs won last year’s meeting on a dramatic late touchdown against the Hoyas, but that isn’t discouraging Kelly or the team.

“Yale is an excellent football team. They haven’t played a game yet but, you know, we owe them one,” Kelly said.

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