As part of the latest push to improve player safety, the NCAA this offseason banned players from leaping over blockers in an attempt to block punts. So when the flag came out late in Georgetown’s home opener against Wagner on Saturday, Hoyas Coach Kevin Kelly knew the call right away.
Seahawks senior Jerome Williams had attempted to hurdle the wall of blockers protecting Georgetown punter Matt MacZura, and the personal foul call sent the Hoyas back onto the field and set up MacZura’s 35-yard field goal with 1 minute 42 seconds left, giving Georgetown a 13-10 victory at Multi-Sport Field.
Wagner “actually did it last week, and [the officials] didn’t call it,” Kelly said. “I’m glad they did this week.”
Georgetown returned 17 starters from the 2011 squad that finished one win shy of its first Football Championship Subdivision playoff appearance, and the Hoyas stoked that optimism with a season-opening 35-14 victory at Davidson. But with a sputtering offense led by backup quarterback Aaron Aiken, they waited until the final minute to finally shake the Seahawks and clinch a 2-0 start for the third straight season.
After Wagner (0-2) tied the game at 10 with 5:19 left, Georgetown senior Jeremy Moore had an apparent 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown called back by a holding penalty.
Instead, Aiken, a junior who played in place of injured senior Isaiah Kempf , took the field at the Hoyas 13-yard line. The drive seemed to fizzle out five plays later when Aiken was tackled short of the first down on a third-and-eight scramble.
The 6-foot-5, 225-pound signal caller was on the sideline getting a cut on his arm taped and preparing to talk with offensive coordinator Vinnie Marino via headset when he was summoned back onto the field because of the personal foul.
“I was glad to have that drive back,” said Aiken, who scored Georgetown’s only touchdown on a 12-yard scamper in the third quarter. “I got to settle down the [offense] and continue to move us down the field.”
The Hoyas took advantage, picking up another first down before MacZura, who is in his first season handling kicking duties, nailed the 35-yard kick that put the Hoyas in front for good.
Williams’s penalty “was definitely a relief — definitely helped us out,” said senior linebacker Rob McCabe, who led Georgetown with 13 tackles, including a sack. “It was a break in the game, but penalties are part of the game, and you’ve got to play smart football in the fourth quarter.”
Georgetown’s defense — which allowed only three points after ceding a touchdown on Wagner’s opening drive — closed out the victory.
The Seahawks picked up one first down on its final drive but then went backward. They couldn’t convert on fourth and 15 from their 30-yard line, allowing Aiken to run out the final seconds with a final kneel.
“We’ve got the confidence that we’re going to win now,” Kelly said. “In the past, that wasn’t the case. Now when we get into these games, the kids have the confidence . . . and we know we can win it.”