By Mike HumeHoya Staff Writer

It was the first step for the Georgetown football team into its new Patriot League schedule, and it was a doozy. Lehigh’s explosive offense scored five touchdowns, three by sophomore tailback Dave Wilson, to defeat Georgetown 41-14 in the Hoyas’ season opener in front of 2,250 fans at Kehoe Field last Saturday.

Georgetown senior quarterback Sean Peterson performed admirably in the loss, completing 23 of 33 passes for 255 yards and only one interception, a diving pick by Lehigh defensive back Ken Pitter on the Hoyas’ opening drive. The interception came as the Hoyas seemed poised to answer Lehigh’s touchdown, scored on the ountain Hawks’ own first possession. After starting on their own eight-yard line, Peterson rapidly drove the Hoyas downfield, completing two passes to freshman running back John Sims and one to sophomore wide receiver Walter Bowser. However, just as it looked like Georgetown would give three-time reigning Patriot League champion Lehigh a run for its money, Pitter’s interception stole the touchdown and momentum from the Hoyas.

The opening offensive drive was also costly to the Hoyas as Sims was forced to leave for the rest of the game due to an ankle injury – a tremendous blow to a team that has lacked depth at running back in recent years.

“Sims is the best back that we have had here in years,” Benson said. “It hurt us badly to lose him on the first drive.”

The loss was obvious to Georgetown’s running game. With Sims on the sidelines, sophomore Dawon Dicks took on the mantle of the primary running back. But Lehigh’s defensive line, weighing in at a combined weight of 1,025 pounds, stopped Dicks and the other Georgetown rushers cold, limiting the Hoyas to only 76 rushing yards on the game and only one yard in the first half.

Conversely, Georgetown struggled to contain Wilson, who ran wild, carrying the ball 23 times for 122 yards. Likewise, the young Hoya defensive backs struggled to stop Lehigh senior quarterback and pre-season All-American Brant Hall. Hall picked apart the Georgetown defense for 306 yards on 17 completions, repeatedly finding his receivers open over the middle.

“We saw from the game tapes that they played a certain defense when we lined up a certain way,” Lehigh senior wide receiver Josh Snyder said. “We just used that to our advantage.” Snyder finished with 182 yards and one touchdown on the day.

Trailing 24-0 late in the second quarter, Georgetown finally got on the board. After a series of goal line plays, Peterson connected in the end zone with freshman receiver Craig Agnello with two seconds left in the half. Law student Marc Samuel converted the extra point to make the score 24-7 at halftime. Still, Georgetown could not convert on the momentum from the end of the first half, going scoreless in the third quarter.

“I liked how our offense came out strong,” said Lehigh Head Coach and Georgetown alumnus Pete Lembo (’92). “I also liked how our defense came out and shut them down in the third quarter.”

After two more Lehigh touchdowns in the second half and the second field goal of the day by junior Brian Kelley, Georgetown would add its final score of the day – a 38-yard touchdown pass from Peterson to sophomore wide receiver Luke McArdle.

Junior Dave Paulus, last year’s starting quarterback, saw significant time as a wide receiver for Georgetown, making two receptions for nine yards. Paulus did take snaps at quarterback for one possession for the Hoyas, but was replaced by Peterson on Georgetown’s next possession.

Despite the loss, Benson noted some positive signs about the status of his team, particularly his young wide receivers.

Agnello was named the Patriot League’s Rookie of the Week for his performance against Lehigh. He finished the day with three receptions for 16 yards.

“Our wide receiver corps may be the best we’ve had in 10 years,” Benson said. “They’re an exciting bunch.”

Benson was also pleased by the performance of his offensive line, an element of Georgetown’s game that was less than solid last year. It limited the larger Lehigh defense to only three sacks on the day and provided Peterson ample time to work in the pocket.

“There were signs of very encouraging things,” Benson said of his line’s performance. Still, Benson cited that winning is, and will be, the primary goal of the program.

“We’re not here to lose. We’re not here for moral victories,” he said.

After its showdown with Lehigh, now ranked No. 9 in the Division I-AA national poll, Georgetown turns its eyes to yet another talented Patriot League opponent in Holy Cross.

“This is a red letter game for us,” Benson said. “This is a rivalry game. This is a game we should be competitive in.”

The past supports Benson’s claim. Georgetown has won two of the last three meetings between the two teams since 1998. Last year the Hoyas lost at home to the Crusaders 38-22.

Benson has mentioned that one of the toughest aspects of advancing into the Patriot League will be facing bigger teams every week and having relatively little time to heal and recover from injuries between every game. This theory will certainly be tested this weekend.

During the Lehigh game, senior tight end Bo Cote and sophomore linebacker William Skultety, in addition to Sims, came out of the game due to injuries. While Cote will return to the Georgetown lineup Saturday, Sims and Skultety remain questionable with ankle injuries.

The Hoyas should be buoyed by the return of senior fullback and team captain Aaron Brown who sat out most of the Lehigh game with injuries.

After Saturday’s game in Worcester, Mass., the Hoyas return home to play Wagner Sept. 15.

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