Charles Nailen/The Hoya Georgetown slipped away from Towson to finish the season 5-6 overall.

With two minutes left in the season, the Georgetown defense was faced with its biggest challenge of the year this Saturday: preserving a 24-16 lead over Towson. After surrendering 62 yards on eight plays, the Tigers faced first-and-goal on the 8-yard line.

With freshman defensive back Sheldon Epps, junior defensive end Ken Osier and junior defensive back Matt Fronczke making key tackles for Georgetown on first, second and third down, respectively, the game came down to a single fourth down play.

Towson quarterback junior Jay Amer dropped back to pass. Amer fired as wide receiver senior Jamal White headed for the far right corner of the end zone. With freshman defensive back Rocco ilazzotto right beside him, White jumped, reached and grasped the ball.

He landed out-of-bounds. The Hoya defense had prevailed.

The goal-line stand concluded a game dominated by defense for both teams. Fronczke and junior linebacker Andrew Clarke, who ended the year with 119 tackles in 11 games, led the defense with 15 and 14 total tackles, respectively. The Hoyas held the Tigers scoreless on two of their five drives into the red zone and intercepted Amer twice. It was also the first time this season that the Hoyas completed more than half of their pass attempts while their opponent did not.

The match also made quite a display of Georgetown’s special teams. Among the afternoon’s notable events were a missed 35-yard field goal attempt by Towson kicker Ben Whitacre, a blocked punt by sophomore Janiero Wooten and a 40-yard kickoff return by junior Luke McArdle.

“Any time you’re going to win, you’re going to have strong efforts on offense, defense and special teams,” Head Coach Bob Benson said. “Our defense came through and we took advantage of turnovers.”

The game did not initially seem promising for Georgetown. On the first play from scrimmage, Wooten threw a halfback pass that was picked off by Towson senior defensive back Edmund Carazo. Amer had two incomplete passes before being sacked on third down, forcing the Tigers to give the ball back to the Hoyas.

On the ensuing possession, Georgetown went three-and-out. Both teams traded drives and Towson got the ball on its own 32-yard line, following an interference penalty on the kick, with 8:46 to go in the first quarter. A 22-yard pass from Amer to junior tailback Matt Romeo highlighted a drive that displayed the first productive offense of the day. The Tigers went 55 yards on eight plays but the Hoya defense held on third-and-6. Towson opted for a field goal attempt from Georgetown’s 18-yard line but Whitacre’s kick sailed wide left.

Later, on Towson junior Steve Bulcavage’s third punt, Wooten redeemed himself by blocking the kick. Paulus immediately took advantage of the short field, completing to sophomore tight end Jordan Jarry for the score on the first play of the second quarter.

The Tigers’ offense got a single first down but failed to move the ball on the next drive and Bulcavage’s punt was subsequently run back by McArdle to Towson’s 42-yard line. On third-and-long from the 19-yard line, sophomore defensive back Davon Telp sacked Paulus and forced a fumble that was recovered by Towson junior defensive end Jason Trolio.

Towson was unable to benefit from the turnover and three plays after their punt, Paulus hit senior tight end Bo Cote for a 30-yard score, giving the Hoyas a 14-0 lead midway through the second quarter.

The Tigers’ luck ran out again two plays after the kickoff, when Hoya sophomore defensive back Byron Anderson recovered a Towson fumble at the 20-yard line. Another three-play drive, capped off by a 15-yard completion to junior wide receiver Walter Bowser, added another seven points to the Hoyas’ side of the scoreboard.

The teams went back and forth for the remainder of the first half but Georgetown maintained its three-touchdown lead going into half time. Even with such a margin, the Hoyas were leery of the Tigers’ second half performance.

“We knew they would make a run in the second half,” Benson said.

On the opening drive of the second half, Towson went 70 yards on seven carries and one completion to get on the board and begin a comeback attempt. Three drives later, junior linebacker Neal Regan interception paved the way for a 31-yard Towson field goal.

The running game, led by Romeo, again carried the Tigers downfield early in the fourth quarter. White caught an Amer pass for six points to conclude an 81-yard drive but the two-point conversion attempt was unsuccessful, narrowing the Hoyas’ lead to five points.

Georgetown’s offense was stymied for much of the second half. The Towson defense held them at the one-yard line for three plays after sophomore defensive end Brandon Small recovered a botched snap that had sailed over Amer’s head. The Hoyas settled for a field goal, stretching their lead to eight with 2:21 to go in the game.

Romeo led Towson down the field once more but was held just outside the goal line by the Georgetown defense. Paulus took a knee to finalize the 24-16 victory.

“It was a huge win – a great win for seniors going out and a great, great win for the program,” Benson said.

The triumph marked the Hoyas’ second win in the Patriot League and their first conference away victory. After ending the season one game below .500 overall (5-6), Georgetown came in sixth in the conference with a 2-5 league record.

“We now have to respond to the future. There’s no looking back,” Benson said. “Sure, we won three of our last four, but we can only look ahead to next season.”

In the off-season, the departure of Paulus, Cote, wide receiver Trenton Hillier, offensive linemen Ed Kuczma and Adam Rini, defensive lineman Matt Korcinsky and 15 of their teammates will deplete the Hoya roster. Current starters, including juniors cArdle, Bronczke, Clarke, Osier, Bowser and fullback William Huisking, will lead the Hoyas into their third season as members of the Patriot League.

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