After two relatively newbies to the Georgetown College football season, Saturday’s Mid-South Conference opener against Faulkner University took on a more dangerous and challenging tone in just two snapshots of the scrimmage.
Tigers quarterback Drew Hartz appears to have opened Dillon Warren deep in the middle to start the game, but Eagles defensive linebacker Elliott Shorter didn’t press play and broke down the layup. Faulkner’s samaj then hit Washington running backwards without any gains in the next play.
Powered by four quick bites from the GC’s defense, the No. 10 Nickel Tigers are on their way to a 23-13 win but were frustrated and sometimes frustrated for the first time.
“I think we’re good,” GC coach Chris Oliver said. “I don’t know if we are a great football team yet, but I think we are good, and I think we beat a good football team in Faulkner, and I’m glad we did.”
A stumbled recovery by Chad Holleran, Xian Bethel and Jacob Harmon, Payton Standfair’s interception, and a 3½ tackle for the loss by an All-American passer DJ White put Georgetown (3-0) in a short field for much of the afternoon.
Faulkner (1-2) did not catch his first goal until the final in the first quarter.
“We were two plus in the sales category,” Oliver said. “When you have four defensive notes, it will help you win games, and these guys have played really well.”
The Tigers collected all their points before the break on touchdown passes from 15 and 27 yards from Hartz to Aaron Maggard and field goals of 28, 32 and 26 yards off the foot of Chris Klein.
The GC also missed the shortest field goal attempt, three sacks, two interceptions, 75 yards of penalties and a 5 for 15 efficiency in third place, all of which conspired to keep offense under wraps.
Darius Neal (15 carts, 58 yards) was basically the extent of the Tigers’ running game. His ability to pull attackers and move chains allowed Georgetown to run out of time.
“We left a lot of plays there,” Oliver said. “They play a lot of what’s called bear defense where they’ll put a defensive lineman in almost every attacking lineman in every game of the game. So they’re committed to stopping running, and then they’re rotating their lockers all day.”
Cline started his productive day with a 60-yard game after opening the GC with a three-and-out, pinning Faulkner in his 8-yard line. The Tigers punched the ball out of John Bolton’s fist and into Holleran’s hand in the Eagles’ first game of the melee.
JaMichael Morgan threw a cup for a loss to help Faulkner regain his footing, and two incomplete passes forced Georgetown to call up Cline to take the lead with just over two minutes to go.
White stopped at 3 and 1 to throttle the first full Faulkner series. Having inherited the ball near the midfield in gambling, new quarterback Greg Slonaker called Cobb for 11 yards and Maggard for 27 to bring the Tigers back into the red.
Once again, Faulkner slipped, and Klein split the rolls a second time to make it 6-0 with 7:48 remaining in the first quarter.
“I think they went into the game wondering if we could throw the ball over the top, and we just didn’t do it properly,” Oliver said. “We made some passes on the field, but we didn’t run the ball great, and we didn’t make enough of those consistent big plays over the top.”
Standifer’s simple play near midfield started in the second quarter in style and ignited the Tigers’ first relegation run.
Josh Gary, Cobb and Neal had all of their Hartz short-range hunts (16 for 25, 229 yards) on the drive. In third and eighth of 15, Hartz avoided the rush and found Magard in the back of the end zone for a 13-0 with 10:36 left in the inning.
GC scored another three points after the Tigers jumped the ball off Caleb Jones’s toes and at Bethel’s feet on Faulkner 30. Slonaker immediately called Gary to get the Tigers into the goal field, but the ground game faltered from there, and the third throw fell incomplete.
Faulkner went the distance and climbed onto the board with the help of a 27-yard shot from Raequan Beal to Jaiveyon Tucker, followed by a GC personal foul on the next play.
Eagles’ other QB, Ben Anderson, fired an 11-yard pass from TD to Shawn Vincent three minutes from the end of the game.
With a kick from Warren 42 yards, the GC answered quickly. Hartz hit Maggard for 19 yards and JC Chigog for 21 yards ahead of Maggard’s second goal in another style to lead 23-6 in the first half.