FOOTBALL | Hoyas Win Home Opener
Published: Sunday, September 9, 2012
Updated: Friday, September 14, 2012 01:09
Georgetown’s football team (2-0) broke open a tied game late in the fourth quarter when junior kicker Matt MacZura nailed his second collegiate field goal attempt, going on to a 13-10 win over Wagner (0-2).
The low-scoring contest was the first career start for Georgetown junior quarterback Aaron Aiken, who was playing in place of injured senior Isaiah Kempf.
“We rallied around Aaron Aiken,” senior linebacker Robert McCabe said. “He managed the game well. Everyone had to step up and play that much better, and everyone did that.”
After a dismal opening drive, the Hoyas punted to the Seahawks, who used a series of short rushes to move the chains. When Wagner senior quarterback Nick Doscher completed a 12-yard pass to sophomore tight end Bryant Watts, Wagner gained a 7-0 lead.
“We weren’t tackling very well, and then we made some mistakes,” Head Coach Kevin Kelly said. “What we told them on the sideline was, ‘It wasn’t them; it was us.’”
Aiken and junior running back Nick Campanella managed to get the ball into the red zone, but — in a recurring problem on the afternoon — the Hoyas stalled near the goal.
“I know we moved the football,” Kelly said. “But we didn’t finish drives, and we didn’t score in the red zone.”
MacZura’s 21-yard field goal, his first in college, sailed through the goalposts to put the Blue and Gray on the scoreboard, though they would still trail 7-3 as the first quarter wound down.
And that was how the tally would remain for nearly two quarters, with both teams lifeless in the second and much of the third quarter.
“We knew this game was going to be [about] defense,” McCabe said.
Wagner’s opening drive of the second quarter ended in a fumble recovered by Georgetown sophomore defensive lineman Richard Shankle.
With senior running back Chance Logan leading the charge, the Hoyas brought the ball all the way to the 4-yard line but could not sustain the momentum, turning the ball over on downs.
McCabe and two untimely penalties bailed Georgetown out on the next drive, which ended when McCabe sacked Doscher for a loss of eight yards.
Unfortunately for the Hoyas, the ensuing Georgetown drive also ended with a sack, when Aiken, who had a much shakier outing than he did a week ago against Davidson, lost seven yards on third down, leading to a punt from the Blue and Gray to end the first half.
The Seahawks and Hoyas both struggled after the break, but after Wagner punted from its own 1-yard line and sophomore wide receiver Kevin Macari returned the ball 33 yards to Wagner’s 12-yard line, Aiken was finally in position to score.“We did a heck of a job on the ... punt that went to the 1-yard line,” Kelly said. “[Our] defense held them, we had a good return and we got a touchdown.”
After throwing one incomplete pass, Aiken rushed the ball for 12 yards and a touchdown, giving Georgetown a 10-7 lead.
Wagner’s next drive came to nothing, as the stellar defense — junior defensive back Dustin Wharton had nine tackles, and McCabe had 13 tackles and one sack — once again stopped the Seahawks.
“Obviously, our defense played very, very well,” Kelly said. “[Wagner is] a good football team.”
More penalties on Wagner kept Georgetown’s next drive going, but Aiken turned the ball over on downs. A series of short Seahawk rushes set Wagner’s kicker up for a 44-yard field goal, which tied the game with just over five minutes to go.
After getting a first down on a 28-yard rush, Georgetown faltered on third down with four yards to go. But the Hoyas caught a game-winning break when a penalty went against Wagner on this season’s new rule relating to punt formations.
“We obviously drill it in their heads,” Kelly said. “We don’t let them do it in practice, so they don’t do it in the game.”
The new rule, which was instituted for safety reasons, prohibits “players from leaping over blockers in an attempt to block a punt,” according to the NCAA.
“I didn’t see them,” MacZura said. “We’ve talked about [the rule change] a lot this year. We’ve put a lot of emphasis on that, and obviously, it worked out in our favor.”
The 15-yard penalty against the Seahawks gave the Blue and Gray an automatic first down. Aiken and Macari then teamed up again to move the chains further down the field, setting MacZura up for a field goal with the game tied at 10-10 and 1:42 left.
“You’ve kind of always got that in the back of your head,” MacZura said. “I was glad we got in the position to give our team the W.”
The junior calmly knocked down the 35-yard attempt, putting Georgetown up 13-10.
“We’ve done it so many times in practice,” MacZura said. “I think we were ready for it, and you’ve just got to embrace the situation.”
Wagner was unable to score on the ensuing drive, turning the ball over on downs.
Aiken, who led a charge that put up 312 yards of total offense compared to just 244 for the Seahawks, took a knee after the return, sealing the Hoyas’ win.
“I couldn’t have asked for a more exhilarating win,” Aiken said. “For me, it was a great experience. It was everything that I’ve worked for.”
Next up for Georgetown is a date with Yale Saturday at MultiSport Facility. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.