Georgetown broke its four-year losing streak in season openers by defeating St. Francis (Pa.), 36-7, yesterday in a nonconference game before 1,671 at Harbin Field.
Place kicker Michael Gillman made five field goals, including a career-long 43-yarder, to break a school record for most field goals in a game.
"It's always important to get off to a good start," Coach Bob Benson said. "It gets everybody off in the right direction."
The Hoyas, who had not won a season opener since leaving the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference in 1999, found the ideal opponent against which to end their streak. St. Francis had won only three games the last four seasons.
Regardless, Georgetown showed improvement over last year's 4-8 team. Special teams were Georgetown's Achilles' heel last season; yesterday, the squad was among the Hoyas' strengths. In addition to Gillman's performance, the Hoyas blocked a punt and returned another 63 yards.
"Special teams are going to be key to what we do," Benson said. "I would say special teams really sealed the victory."
Less than 18 months ago, Gillman could barely walk because of torn cartilage in his hip. Following surgery and a long rehabilitation, Gillman appears to be back to the form he showed in 2002. His kickoffs went deep. He made all of his extra point attempts. His only missed field goal attempt was from 44 yards. Gillman made one fewer field goal than he made all of last season. He also showed he is capable of making a hit, laying out two ball carriers with tackles.
The leg "feels great," Gillman said. "Sometimes it takes me a little longer to stretch out because it's a little tight. But in terms of pain, there's no pain."
The Hoyas' biggest gains offensively came on the ground. Junior tailback Kim Sarin flourished under the offense installed by new offensive coordinator Elliot Uzelac. Sarin rushed for 154 yards on 21 carries, gaining 34 more yards than he had all of last season. Even more impressively, he was not stopped for a loss.
"Coach U did a great job putting in an offense based on our players, our talents," Sarin said. "This year we're mobilizing our talent."
Listed generously at 5 feet 7, 155 pounds, Sarin isn't a powerful runner. Instead, he uses his elusiveness to evade tackles. But Sarin, who gave Georgetown just its third 100-yard performance in the past four seasons, credited his offensive line more than his ability to evade defenders.
"It's all about the line," Sarin said. "If the line can't block, I couldn't do nothing."
Sarin's productivity should temporarily offset concerns at quarterback. Andrew Crawford completed 11 of 20 passes for 100 yards and one touchdown.
* SALISBURY 31, CATHOLIC 14: The Cardinals had two punts blocked and another punt returned for a touchdown to fall in their opener at home.
Leroy Satchell ran for 104 of Salisbury's 235 rushing yards, and scored twice.
Catholic's freshman quarterback Greg Nejmah completed 15 of 35 passes for 140 yards and two touchdowns.
* MORGAN STATE 41, BOWIE STATE 35: Craig Nelson and Brad Littlejohn combined for 421 yards and six touchdowns for the Bears in Baltimore.
Nelson rushed for 203 yards on 29 carries, including a 63-yard touchdown in the first quarter. He also scored on runs of two and five yards for Morgan State (1-0).
Jabali Smith led Bowie State (1-1) with 242 yards passing and three touchdowns. Smith cut the lead to 41-35 on a 19-yard touchdown pass to DeMarcus Reeves.
* TOWSON 34, ELON 13: Will Marcus scored two touchdowns while Allante Harrison returned one of his two interceptions for a touchdown as the Tigers won in Elon, N.C.