FOOTBALL | Seniors Aim for First Victory Over Bucknell
Published: Friday, November 9, 2012
Updated: Friday, November 9, 2012 01:11
Coming off of a much-needed bye week, the Georgetown football team (4-5, 1-3 Patriot League) hopes to crawl to .500 against Bucknell (2-7, 1-4 Patriot League) in its second-to-last game of the year.
The Hoyas — who will be playing at home for the first time since Oct. 13 — will have to contend with a Bison squad hoping to retain momentum after its best victory this season. Last week, Bucknell scored 20 unanswered points in the second half against Fordham to narrowly prevail, 27-24.
Having watched that win over a team that defeated Georgetown, Head Coach Kevin Kelly believes Bucknell is better than its losing record suggests.
“[Bucknell] is a football team that right now is struggling record wise, but when you look at statistics, we are about even,” Kelly said. “We are anticipating a close, tight-knit, typical Patriot League football game on Saturday.”
At quarterback, the banged-up Hoyas will once again turn to freshman Kyle Nolan, who will make his third consecutive start. Nolan, the team’s fourth-string option, showed poise and accuracy leading the Blue and Gray to a win over Lafayette and earning Patriot League rookie of the week honors despite losing to Colgate.
Much of the gunslinger’s early success is rooted in his rapport with sophomore wide receiver Kevin Macari, who has gone over 100 yards receiving in both of Nolan’s first two starts.
“Kevin’s an excellent receiver, and Kyle understands that,” Kelly said. “Kevin’s got great speed, and Kyle knows when he throws the football that Kevin is probably going to go up and get it.”
The Blue and Gray will need Macari to catch a few deep balls in Saturday’s matchup against the Bison, a team that has long been a thorn in the Hoyas’ side. Bucknell has won the last four head-to-head contests between the two, and Kelly has been quick to tell all his players, especially the seniors, that they have never defeated the Bison.
“I just told the seniors that, right now, they are 0-3 against Bucknell,” Kelly said. “That’s the only record that matters.”
Last season’s loss to the Bison was particularly brutal for Georgetown. Bucknell scored the first 28 points of the game in a 35-18 blowout that was the Blue and Gray’s first conference loss of the season.
“Last year, on both sides of the ball, they physically dominated us,” Kelly said. “We were embarrassed, we got behind early and we should be physically ready for this year’s football game.”
One area in which the Hoyas must improve from last year’s thrashing is defense. Led by senior linebacker Robert McCabe and senior cornerback Jeremy Moore, it has been the team’s strength most of the year but has appeared largely overmatched in several Georgetown losses.
In a 37-10 defeat to Brown, the Hoyas struggled in all phases, with the red zone defense unable to slow the Bears’ offense. More recently, Georgetown was gouged for 707 yards and 57 points in a loss against the potent Colgate offensive attack.
Now, the question becomes whether the defense that shows up on Saturday will be the one that has been consistently dominant, or the one that has been seemingly nonexistent.
Making matters more interesting for the defense is the recent return of Bucknell running back Tyler Smith. The senior, who has dealt with injuries this season, rushed for 179 yards in last week’s victory over Fordham and is a key cog in the Bison offense when healthy.
Last year, Smith ran for 114 yards against Georgetown, and Kelly thinks the key to slowing down Bucknell’s offense is containing the dangerous running back.
“[Bucknell] has a tailback offense and [Smith] is a scrappy, tough back that has given us fits forever,” Kelly said. “He is a talented football player, and he is a guy that we have to stop.”
Although there are many pregame storylines — the revenge factor, Nolan’s third start and the pressure on the defense to perform — Kelly says that none of that matters when the teams take the field on Saturday.
“Anybody can beat anybody in this league. We cannot overlook anybody, regardless of what the records are,” Kelly said. “The game’s 60 minutes, and the score right now is 0-0.”
Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. at MultiSport Facility.