For most of Saturday’s matchup between Howard and Georgetown, the District’s two Football Championship Subdivision teams, neither the Bison nor Hoyas generated much offense. Too many off-target passes, false-start penalties and missed field goals made for short stints for the offenses and little rest for the defenses.
But heading into the fourth quarter of the third Mayor’s Cup game, Howard’s defense began to wear down and Georgetown capitalized. The Hoyas scored two touchdowns in the final 10 minutes to win, 21-3, at Greene Stadium.
The victory capped a successful five-game stretch of away games for the Hoyas (5-2), who have won more games this season than in any of Coach Kevin Kelly’s six seasons at Georgetown.
Georgetown held a 7-3 lead heading into the fourth quarter, which was little comfort to Kelly. He said all he could think about was Howard’s remarkable fourth-quarter comeback win against Florida A&M the previous week.
“Believe me, that was in the back of my mind, that game last week,” he said.
Kelly didn’t want to give Howard’s offense a chance to repeat the feat, so he made sure Georgetown’s offense stayed on the field. Quarterback Isaiah Kempf’s third-down scramble for nine yards sustained the Hoyas’ first drive of the fourth quarter, which would turn into their longest of the game.
On second and goal from the Howard 8, as Kempf handed the ball to wide receiver Jeffrey Burke on a reverse, the bulk of the Bison defense headed left and Burke took off running right.
“I noticed their defense was still standing up and a little tired,” Burke said. “We were in our fast-paced offense. . . . They still were kind of off-balance, not knowing what they were running and a lot of them over-pursued the option.”
That left Howard strong safety DeCarlos Knight all alone, trying to cover Georgetown tight end Tucker Stafford near the end zone and keeping an eye on Burke.
“The point of that play is to be pretty discreet,” Stafford said.
When Knight left Stafford to pursue Burke, the wide receiver tossed an eight-yard touchdown pass to the tight end with 9 minutes 44 seconds to play that gave Georgetown the momentum it needed. Once again, the visitors came out ahead; the road team has won every game in this series.
Not much separated the teams. Georgetown ran 10 more plays and gained 55 more yards. The difference was the Hoyas made plays when they needed to and the Bison did not.
“There’s no doubt about it: We came out flat,” Howard Coach Gary Harrell said. “I don’t think we came out mentally prepared for this game.”
Howard (3-4) had hoped to win its third game in a row for the first time since 2004 but the Bison were held to their lowest point total of the season. Still, despite the loss, they already have as many wins this season as they had the past two seasons combined.
Georgetown’s defense gave Howard freshman quarterback Greg McGhee fits. Not only did cornerback Stephen Atwater intercept McGhee’s pass on the first offensive play of the game, McGhee had several more passes batted down and was under pressure most of the game.
“That made him lose a little confidence and focus,” Harrell said.
McGhee completed 17 of 31 passes for 115 yards. He also threw two interceptions.
Howard also was undone by penalties. The Bison were penalized 12 times for 92 yards.
“A lot of self-inflicted negatives,” Howard wide receiver Willie Carter said. “That’s going to cost any offense.”