Some thoughts following Lehigh's 17-14 win at Georgetown Saturday:
1. Every Play Counts. With under 30 seconds to play in the NFL game between Dallas and Baltimore, the Cowboys were on the verge of a major comeback, recovering an onsides kick and driving into field goal range. But on the penultimate play of the game, needing just a few yards to get into safe field goal position, the team's receivers failed to get back to the line, Tony Romo took their final time out, and the 51 yard attempt, nearly the longest in PK Dan Bailey's career, sailed left.
Thirty miles south and 24 hours earlier, it was the Georgetown Hoyas on the verge of the comeback, needing a matter of yards to set up Matt MacZura for a makeable field goal, or to aim for the end zone to win it. Instead, a run up the middle and a spike of the ball left MacZura with a 37 yard attempt--not exactly insurmountable, but no sure thing given MacZura's career long was only 35 yards and he had missed two earlier in the game. MacZura's kick sailed left, and so did the Hoyas' momentum.
It wasn't the only error of caution in the game--two fourth down plays also cost the Hoyas chances at points:
3rd quarter, 4th and 8 at the Lehigh 34, game tied: Stephen Skon loses seven yards on a sack.
4th quarter, 4th and 3 at the Lehigh 33, game tied: Aaron Aiken loses six yards on a sack.
But back to the end game strategy. There has been a palpable inside the 35 for the Hoyas, and with some reason--Georgetown isn't converting. The specter of the INT versus Yale has led Georgetown to settle for field goals when it could be going for touchdowns, sometimes to its benefit (Princeton), others not (Lehigh). But among all the plays on a unlikely Saturday in October, settling for three instead of a chance at the win is one that coaches Kelly and Marino need to reexamine.
2. Turnover Margin. How does a team have a turnover margin of 5 and still lose a game? Answer--two fourth quarter sacks and three missed field goals. No good excuse for this one. Yes, Lehigh is a very good team, but to convert only one takeaway via an offensive touchdown was breathtaking in the scope of lost opportunities. How many similar opportunities face the Hoyas at Colgate or at Lafayette?
3. Answering The Call. After having been called out following the loss to Fordham, Georgetown's defense had a superb effort. Put aside the turnovers for a moment--Georgetown held the #10 team in the nation to 17 points. How many teams have held the Engineers to 17 or fewer points? Since the 2008 season, Georgetown is just the second PL team to hold Lehigh to 17 or fewer.
4. Aaron Aiken's Return? Aiken made his first appearance in three weeks Saturday in relief of Skon during the early fourth quarter, The results weren't overwhelming (2 for 6 passing) but it's a subplot for the remaining games--stay with Skon, return to Aiken, or platoon the quarterbacks as was done with Isaiah Kempf and Scott Darby for the better part of three seasons? For Colgate, Georgetown may want to stay with Skon because his passing can be more effective against a porous Colgate pass defense. Lafayette may be another story. Stay tuned.
5. The Home Stretch. Finally, there are just two home games left in Jeremy Moore's career. Even if you can't make it to Colgate or Lafayette, you owe it to yourself to see him in action once (or twice) more next month. There hasn't been a defensive back this good at Georgetown in 30 years, and it could be another 30 years again until fans see the talent he has brought to the position. And if you're one of these other PL teams, they will be on watch to see what Moore will do next. As should we.