Charles Nailen/The Hoya Sophomore linebacker Andrew Clarke jumps for an interception in Saturday’s win.

It wasn’t pretty, but senior Dave Paulus’s two touchdown passes and a strong defensive effort led the Hoyas to a 24-17 victory over former Metro-Atlantic Athletic Conference foe arist on Senior Day at Harbin Field.

Senior Trenton Hillier’s final home game proved a memorable one, as he leaped to receive a Paulus pass, shook a defender and then tip-toed down the sideline for the 64-yard touchdown, providing the eventual game-winning margin in the third quarter.

“Dave [Paulus] and I have been playing together for years,” Hillier said. “When I saw I had a man-to-man match-up I broke off my route and went for it. I was inches from going out of bounds after I caught it.”

All around, Georgetown (4-5, 1-3 Patriot League) executed in all aspects of the game, limiting Marist (5-4) to just 150 yards on the ground, roughly 60 yards below the Red Foxes’ season average in that category. The defense also forced three fumbles and two interceptions to disrupt the Marist offense.

Offensively, the Hoyas scored on their first possession of the game for the first time this season, taking advantage of a conversion on fourth and seven on a pass from Paulus to junior receiver Luke McArdle to Marist’s 24-yard line. Sophomore running back John Sims scampered into the endzone on a 4-yard run seven plays later to put the Hoyas up 7-0.

“I think we’re playing more as a team,” Bob Benson said after his 100th game as the Hoyas’ head coach. “We still do some things that are ridiculous, but we’re getting better.”

Among those ridiculous things were five fumbles, three of them recovered by Marist and two of them leading to Marist scores.

On their first drive of the game, the Red Foxes marched back down the field and were poised to score when the Hoyas deflected a would-be touchdown pass into the arms of junior linebacker William Skultety. Skultety, however, couldn’t hang onto the ball, fumbling at the Marist 1-yard line. The Red Foxes recovered and scored on the next play.

“We were trying to get [Skultety] to go down,” junior linebacker Andrew Clarke said. “I may have even knocked it out of his hands.”

McArdle answered two series later, putting the Hoyas up 14-7 with a leaping grab along the far sideline, ditching his defender and running into the endzone for a 58-yard score, much the same as Hillier would do almost 17 minutes later. Freshman kicker Michael Gillman drilled a 33-yard field goal to account for the Hoyas final tally of the game with 14:49 remaining in the game.

Paulus won his third game since assuming the starting role at quarterback, though he looked shaky at times completing only 10 of 23 passes for 201 yards, though 122 of those came on the two scoring strikes to McArdle and Hillier. Paulus’s string of five straight appearances without an interception ended after senior Adam Ercoli tipped a ball to himself early in the second half.

With 15 tackles, Clarke played a large part in stopping the running back tandem of Chris Price and Alfredo Riullano, who torched Georgetown for a combined 266 yards rushing, to just 148 yards in this game.

“The defensive line really opened some gaps for the linebackers,” Clarke said. “We just had fun out there.”

“Andrew Clarke is having a great year,” Benson said. “He has just risen up to become a very good Patriot League football player. I think we had a very well thought-out defensive game plan. We let the playmakers make the plays.”

The win is the third for Georgetown in its last four games and leaves open the possibility that the Hoyas could finish with a winning season.

“From a team that was 1-4, they’ve accepted everything I’ve asked them to take one,” Benson said. “They decided to make the commitment to turn it around and now we’re talking about good things.”

The Hoyas have two games remaining, both Patriot League contests, against Colgate and Towson.

“It’s going to be a heck of a challenge,” Benson said.

Saturday’s contest against Marist was the last home game for Georgetown’s seniors, the last class to have played for the Hoyas prior to the move to the Patriot League.

“Nick Schultz and the seniors have been such good leaders for us,” Clarke said. “They’ve given us such a boost.”

“This was a great group of seniors,” Benson said. “We are very aware of the contributions that they’ve made.”

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