Kevin Kelly led Georgetown to its best-ever Patriot League finish in 2011. (Jonathan Newton/Washington Post)

Kevin Kelly has resigned as Georgetown’s football coach after eight seasons to become defensive coordinator at Ball State, the schools announced Thursday. Rob Sgarlata, who most recently served as an assistant head coach and defensive coordinator, was named the Hoyas’ interim coach.

In 2011, Kelly was the Patriot League coach of the year and a finalist for the Eddie Robinson award, presented to the nation’s top Football Championship Subdivision coach, after leading the Hoyas to an 8-3 record — their best since 1999 — and a berth in the Patriot League championship game. But since then, the Hoyas have gone 7-15 and are coming off a 2-9 season in which the team absorbed numerous injuries, especially to the defense.

“Been here eight years, going on nine, and it’s just the time where I feel that Georgetown football needs a new energy, new ideas,” said Kelly, who was 24-63 at Georgetown. “For me personally, this opportunity is something that will help me with my career and my goals moving forward, but Georgetown is an incredible place. It’s very special.”

At Ball State, Kelly will be reunited with Coach Pete Lembo, a longtime friend. The two have known each other since 1995, when both were assistants on the Dartmouth staff.

Sgarlata, meanwhile, will take over until a permanent replacement is named. Georgetown Athletic Director Lee Reed announced a national search for the next coach would begin immediately.

Sgarlata has been on the Georgetown coaching staff for 18 seasons after leading the Hoyas in rushing in 1992 and ’93 and will handle, among other duties in the immediate future, recruiting responsibilities until a new coach is hired.

Some notable players Sgarlata has coached include Alex Buzbee, a first-team all-league selection at defensive line in 2006 who signed a free agent contract with the Washington Redskins, and defensive end Andrew Schaetzke, who became the ninth consensus all-American in Patriot League history in 2011.

The Hoyas will lose 24 seniors from last season’s team, and Sgarlata indicated he has been in touch with members of next year’s recruiting class to try to ensure a smooth transition. Georgetown’s seniors won 19 games, the most of any class that has played all four years in the Patriot League.

“If you really look at Kevin Kelly the eight years he was at Georgetown, the job that he did, in my opinion, was drastically underrated,” Sgarlata said. “He’s done an unbelievable job. A lot of things that people don’t see in the scores are the everyday things he did with our players.”