It’s showdown time for the Georgetown football team. The Hoyas travel to Pittsburgh Saturday to face MAAC league archrival Duquesne in a game that could determine the league champion this season. Either Georgetown or Duquesne has won the title for the last three seasons, with the Dukes winning back-to-back championships in 1996 and 1997, before the Hoyas stole the crown last season. “On October 24, we are playing for the conference. The winner will have a shot at it, the loser will not.” Head Coach Bob Benson said. “Historically speaking, whoever wins this game is in the driver’s seat to win the conference.” Georgetown enters the game at 5-1 overall, [4-1 in MAAC play]( Duquesne, coming off a bye weekend, is 4-2 overall and 3-1 in the MAAC, losing to Fairfield 23-20 in overtime. In last season’sHomecoming game, with the MAAC title on the line, Georgetown came out strong and cruised to a 24-0 victory over Duquesne. This year, playing on the road, the Hoyas will be facing a fired-up Duquesne squad that is gunning for revenge. “Georgetown has become our biggest rivalry,” Duquesne head coach Greg Gattuso told USA Today. “Our football team is very excited about the challenge of playing the team that took the MAAC title away from us last season.” The Hoyas have never won on the road against Duquesne. In fact, they have never even scored a touchdown at Rooney Athletic Field. Despite scoring 152 points this season and holding their opponents to just 74 points, the Hoyas have struggled with turnovers on offense, especially in their opponent’s territory. Moving the ball and scoring will by the key for Georgetown and Duquesne will capitalize on any mistake that they make. Defensively, Duquesne plays a different game than Georgetown has seen in its last few games. Unlike St. John’s and [Siena](, who featured a strong blitz-defense, the Dukes do not play a rush-defense. “They’re not a big pressure team but at the same time, they line up to play,” Benson said. “They stay in one or two defenses and let their kids play.” To effectively shut down the Duquesne offense, Georgetown will have to stop transfer quarterback Tony Zimmerman. Already this season, the sophomore passer from Pittsburgh has thrown 1,107 yards and 12 touchdowns, ranking him 43rd in Division I-AA pass efficiency. The Dukes receiving core is “improved,” according to Benson, and is led by junior Gerald Foster, who has caught 20 passes for 374 yards this season. “He was one of the top-recruited quarterbacks in the country three years ago, and he definitely adds something to their offense,” Benson said. But if any team is going to stop the Duquesne offensive combination of Zimmerman and Foster, it is Georgetown and its strong secondary unit. The Georgetown defense has performed consistently all season and is currently ranked fourth in all of Division I-AA for scoring defense and second in pass efficiency defense. Playing strong for the Hoyas all season is senior free safety Anthony Bartolomeo, who currently leads Division I-AA in interceptions per game, with 0.83 per game. Bartolomeo had snagged an interception in seven straight games but had his streak snapped last weekend against St. John’s. Look for junior defensive end Paul Miller and senior [strong safety Brian Dwyer]( to have strong games against Duquesne. Miller and Dwyer each had six solo tackles last weekend against the Red Storm. They are a consistent force on defense for Georgetown and a key reason that the Hoyas are topping the rankings in Division I-AA statistics. Offensively, the Hoyas need to shake their turnover troubles against a strong defensive team like Duquesne. In last weekend’s game against St. John’s, junior quarterback J.J. Mont threw four touchdowns but also had four passes picked off, two resulting in scores for the Red Storm. In a game as critical as this weekend’s, any mistake that the Hoyas make will be a scoring opportunity for the Dukes. “If you look at us offensively, if we can stop turning the ball over, we’re explosive,” Benson said. Despite turnovers, Mont has led that explosive offensive unit, throwing for 15 touchdowns in six games, just four scores shy of Bill Ward’s (COL ’98) mark. Mont’s favorite target has been sophomore receiver Gharun Hester, who has caught 30 passes for 537 yards and eight touchdowns. The Hoyas will be traveling to Pittsburgh banged up from last week’s physical game against St. John’s. Several starters were questionable as of Wednesday, according to Benson. Senior offensive tackle Skender Derti (knee injury), junior offensive tackle Bob Lenihan (sprained ankle) and senior punter/fullback Charlie Turner are not definite starters for the Hoyas this Saturday. Benson was also unsure about the kicking situation, with starter Paul Wiorowski still nursing a knee injury suffered during the Siena game. Georgetown has a lot on the line this weekend. A win will put them in a good position to challenge for the league championship. A loss makes the rest of the season a greater challenge for the Hoyas. Benson summed up his squad’s game plan in the most simple of terms. “We’ve got to show up and play,” Benson said. “We’ve got to execute and play.

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