FOOTBALL | Hoyas Focus On Colgate, Costly Errors
Published: Thursday, October 18, 2012
Updated: Thursday, October 18, 2012 23:10
Fresh off an unnerving defeat against No. 7 Lehigh last Saturday, the Georgetown football team (3-4, 0-2 Patriot League) has an opportunity to rebound and pick up its first conference win this weekend at Colgate (3-3, 1-0 Patriot League).
Sophomore quarterback Stephen Skon, who has steadily improved since taking over starting duties, will once again lead the Hoyas, given the uncertain status of senior Isaiah Kempf and junior Aaron Aiken.
Though Skon limited himself to just a single turnover against the Mountain Hawks — and the Hoyas’ defense forced seven — the Blue and Gray still dropped a 17-14 heartbreaker.
“We played the [then] No. 10 football team to 17-14, and we had a chance to tie it up at the end,” Head Coach Kevin Kelly said. “We had some really good performances, and that is what you’ve got to look at.”
Despite that positive spin, Georgetown still has many areas of concern to address. Three straight losses — a crushing blowout against Brown and two close defeats to Fordham and Lehigh — have left the Blue and Gray searching for answers.
One issue that has plagued the Hoyas throughout the season has been their red zone offense. Last week, Georgetown converted only one-of-three opportunities inside Lehigh’s 20-yard line, an issue on which Kelly focused during this week’s practices.
“We work on [the red zone] every day,” Kelly said. “On, defense we haven’t been playing well down there either. Both units, offense and defense, that’s been a separate segment that we’ve worked on every day in practice.”
Georgetown knows it will have to capitalize on its chances against Colgate, a team that looks much improved after a 5-6 finish last season.
“[Colgate] is 3-3, but the three losses have been to scholarship programs,” Kelly said. “We have got our hands full with them.”
Last season the Blue and Gray thrashed the Raiders, 40-17, fueled by Kempf’s solid performance and a ball-hawking defense.
“Last year was a great win for us,” Kelly said. “We had never beaten Colgate, and we played extremely well in all phases in that football game.”
Without Kempf in Saturday’s contest, Georgetown’s defense will face a heavy burden to come up with a big-time performance. Led by senior linebacker Robert McCabe, the nation’s leading tackler, and senior cornerback Jeremy Moore, the all-time leader in interception return yardage in the Patriot League, the Blue and Gray have a unique ability to shut down opponents while also creating their own scoring chances.
The Raiders, spearheaded by dual-threat junior quarterback Gavin McCarney, boast a strong rushing attack; Kelly believes slowing down the run will be the key to keeping Colgate off the scoreboard.
“I equate playing [Colgate] to playing an option football team,” Kelly said. “They’re going to try to run the ball first, and then they have big-play capability in their pass game.”
Georgetown’s defense cannot win the game by itself, though, and the team needs an improvement on the offensive side of the ball to come away victorious. The offense is normally led by a two-headed rushing attack: speedy junior Dalen Claytor and bulldozing junior Nick Campanella.
Claytor re-aggravated an old injury to his left shoulder against the Mountain Hawks, forcing him to leave the game. After Claytor’s departure, the Hoyas had trouble moving the ball with their trademark ground game.
Since Claytor is now expected to miss significant time, the pressure has grown for Campanella, Skon and freshman tailback Jo’el Kimpela — a young back in whom Kelly sees promise — to pick up their performance in his absence.
“Dalen’s an excellent back, and when he went down, we lost some productivity,” Kelly said. “Nick is going to have to pick up the slack, and we also have Jo’el Kimpela, who has gotten a lot of reps this week, and he’s looked extremely good.”
Ending the losing streak will not be easy for the Blue and Gray, but even with all the injury and performance question marks, Kelly sees this game going right down to the wire.
“If you look at all our games, except for Davidson, which was a blowout win for us, and Brown, which we let get away from us a little bit, it seems like every game just comes down to the last drive,” Kelly said.
The Hoyas hope to be able to finish that last drive when they travel to Hamilton, N.Y., for their contest with Colgate on Saturday. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m.