Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Patriot League and Georgetown, Ten Years Ago

"The size and depth of #11 ranked Lehigh powered the Engineers past Georgetown, 41-14, in the Patriot League debut for the Hoyas. Despite the loss, and more tough competition around the corner, the game gave Hoyas fans a glimpse of some exciting times to come.", Sep. 1, 2001

Ten years ago today, Georgetown made its Patriot League debut at Kehoe Field against Lehigh University, a 41-14 loss before 2,512 at Kehoe Field. The Hoyas, who had lost just 28 games in the entire MAAC era under coach Bob Benson, entered a decade that was, by most accounts, the worst in Georgetown's longstanding football history: from 2001-10, the Hoyas were just 28-81, 8-52 in the Patriot League (5-27 for Benson, 3-25 for his successor, Kevin Kelly).

Root causes for the last decade's performance are myriad: Georgetown offered far less financial aid than other PL schools, its academic index requirements were much more restrictive than its peers, injuries and player attrition cost it key contributors, and the ongoing failure of the Multi-Sport Facility project (prominently promoted in the 2001 media guide as "scheduled to begin construction in the fall of 2003") became a decade-long obstacle towards program stability. Whatever the causes, the 2011 Hoyas continue to build from the bottom up as they did that day on Kehoe Field, a site which was eventually ruled unplayable for intercollegiate play by the University.

The recap from that 2001 game, posted here, included the following:

"Lehigh made its statement early, returning the opening kickoff 50 yards to the Georgetown 41, and scoring three plays later. The Hoyas made a nice comeback, advancing to the Lehigh 19, but QB Sean Peterson's pass was intercepted in the end zone. Lehigh answered with a field goal to lead 10-0, and held Georgetown to frequent punts in the first half, extending the lead to 24-0 in the second. A fourth TD in the half was narrowly was avoided when DB Byron Anderson stripped the ball from Lehigh's Josh Snyder at the one yard line, following a 62 yard pass completion headed straight to the end zone. However, the Hoyas offense stalled, and Lehigh took the punt and drove for a 35 yard field goal, which sailed wide.

"With 3:35 to play, Peterson took the Hoyas on a 82 yard drive, culminating in an exciting TD pass from Peterson to Craig Agnello with no time outs and :02 remaining in the half.

"The two teams traded field position in the the third quarter, with Dave Wilson scoring on a 1 yard run to increase the lead to 31-7 with 3:46 in the third. Following a field goal to lead 34-7, Lehigh took advantage of Georgetown's special teams to block a Dave Paulus punt at the Georgetown 18. Despite holding the Engineers in a goal line stand, Lehigh pushed through on fourth and goal to lead 41-7.

"The Hoyas completed the last score, with Peterson finding sophomore Luke McArdle on a 38 yard touchdown strike with 5:28 to play. Overall, Peterson finished the game 23-33 for 288 yards.
"There was still a positive attitude on the sideline and on the offensive side of the ball," Peterson said in the Washington Post... "It was good to score late in the game. That shows we still had a lot of pride."

After the game, Benson told the Allentown Morning Call, "We realize what kind of team we were playing today. If you're going to start something, you might as well as start at the top and that's where Lehigh is right now."

Then and now.