Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Neither is a successful football program.

For Georgetown, that will have to be the mantra going into the off-season, as they come out of a 4-7 (2-4 Patriot League) season.

The 2005 campaign did mark an improvement for Hoya football. The program’s four wins totaled one more than the previous season, in which Georgetown failed to win a single Patriot League affair. A member of the league since 2001, the Hoyas have won two league games in just one other season (2002).

But against Holy Cross, Lafayette, Lehigh and Colgate, the top four teams in the league, Georgetown lost by a combined score of 140-34. If the Hoyas want to establish themselves as a contender in the Patriot League, they cannot afford to suffer such lopsided defeats.

From start to finish it was offensive woes that plagued the Hoyas. Injuries played a large part in limiting the offensive production, as veteran starters were injured early on. Senior wide receiver Dominique Saunders was injured in the first game of the year, while senior wide receiver Steve Ekechuku played in just four games, and, and senior tight end Glen Castergine missed five games, not to mention that senior running back Kim Sarin sat the entire year. Additionally, the offensive line – most notable Liam Grubb and Robert LaHayne – was ravaged by injuries.

Even taking into account the injuries, the statistics were undeniably ugly. The Hoyas were outscored 292-110. The 110 points were their fewest since 1984, when they played just seven games versus this year’s 11. Georgetown’s 10.5 points per game was the worst in all of Division 1-AA.

The passing offense was sixth out of the seven Patriot League teams, while the rushing offense was seventh. Total offense was also – and predictably – last in the Patriot League, ten yards fewer than sixth-place Fordham. Additionally, the Hoyas’ 134 first downs were 14 fewer than their closest competitor, also Fordham.

It did not help that Georgetown was the most penalized team in the league at 49.0 per game.

Despite the injuries, junior quarterback Nick Cangelosi was able to look elsewhere to pinpoint the source of Georgetown’s struggles.

“We weren’t consistent,” he said. “I wasn’t consistent throughout the year. We had signs of success, against Brown and in a few other games, but we couldn’t stay consistent.”

Still, the bright spots for the Hoyas were numerous. As far as individual accomplishments were concerned, the defense garnered many accolades. Senior defensive end Michael Ononibaku was named to the all-Patriot League first team, and senior defensive back aurice Banks and junior defensive end Alex Buzbee were named to the second team. Additionally, both Cangelosi and Castergine pointed to the play of junior defensive tackle Julius Griauzde as integral to the success of the defensive unit.

“He doesn’t have a lot of accolades, but he is one of our best,” Castergine said of the underappreciated Griauzde. “He’s been playing great, stopping everything in the middle. Anything [in the middle], he’d end up stopping.”

Indeed, the 2005 campaign was a relatively successful one for the defense. The Hoyas ranked 25th out of 116 Division 1-AA teams in the nation in total defense, third in the Patriot League. They were just 64th in scoring defense, but that can be attributed to the exceptional field position the Georgetown offense handed to their opponents. Best of all, though, the Hoyas led the Patriot League and were fourth in the nation with just 136.91 passing yards surrendered per contest.

The defensive unit was the team’s most valuable asset. Head Coach Bob Benson pointed to the defense as the team’s “Most Valuable Player.” Castergine commented, “The defensive unit has always been playing great. Whether it was Buzbee, Ononibaku or [Banks].”

The high point of the season for the Hoyas was, fittingly, homecoming. After falling behind at home against Fordham, the Hoyas put together an astonishing 21-0 second half run to eclipse the Rams, 24-21. It was Castergine who finally put the Hoyas on top on a 14-yard touchdown reception with just 49 seconds remaining.

“[Beating] Fordham, getting to 4-4 . was a big homecoming win,” Benson said. “We got to .500. It showed we are progressing as a program.”

As high as they were after beating Fordham, losing a few weeks later to Davidson was equally depressing. Needing a win to get back to .500 and maintain the chance to finish over .500, the Hoyas fell 10-3. Termed a “turning point” by Cangelosi and a “heartbreaker” by Castergine, Georgetown understood the gravity of their loss to a team that was 3-6 entering the contest.

“You can’t lose to people you have to beat,” said Benson, who did not have to think long about the low point of the season.

Ultimately, .500 was not to be for the Hoyas, and following the Davidson loss, they suffered a crushing defeat to Colgate. Despite the fact that this season was the Hoyas’ best in the Patriot League, Georgetown fans were left with a sour taste in their mouths.

Nevertheless, Castergine was upbeat about what the improvement meant to the Georgetown program.

“The improvement on last year was my favorite part [about the season.] The program is getting better,” he said.

Benson echoed that sentiment, saying that their brush with .500 is something that they should build off of in the near future.

To improve even more next year, the Hoyas will surely have to improve on offense. “Being last in the nation in anything is unacceptable,” Benson said. “We need to do a lot of things; we need to look at everything. No point is too little, no point is too big.”

Cangelosi, who has two years of eligibility remaining, said, “There is going to have a lot more chemistry between myself and the running back and the receivers. We have a core that we can build off.”

It is impossible to forecast what Georgetown football will do next year. But if Benson’s track record is any indication – he brought the Hoyas from division 3 to Division 1-AA where the Hoyas dominated the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference of to the Patriot League – an improvement is just on the horizon.

Still, over four years ago, in October of 2001, in the midst of their first Patriot League season, THE HOYA wrote, “How long it will take until the Hoyas will compete annually for the Patriot League title is anyone’s guess. The team’s effectiveness will largely be determined by future recruiting classes, which in turn will hinge on the construction of a proposed new stadium facility in the center of campus.”

Since then, the recruiting classes have been solid enough, the future stadium is still surrounded by uncertainty (both literally and figuratively), and Georgetown is certainly yet to compete for the Patriot League title.

Unfortunately, how long it takes until the Hoyas get there is still anyone’s guess.

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