Sept. 13, 2014
POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. - The Georgetown University football team (1-2, 0-0 Patriot League) scored three second half touchdowns, including a 48-yard interception return by sophomore defensive end Phil Novacki (Great Falls, Va./Langley) to help secure a 27-7 victory over the Marist Red Foxes (0-3, 0-0 Pioneer League) on a dreary Saturday evening at Tenney Stadium.
"I told kids we need to play with more of a sense of urgency," Head Coach Rob Sgarlata said. "Instead of waiting for plays to come to us we need to make them. Play the play you're in and not the next one and I think that showed up at critical times throughout the second half."
Novacki finished with three tackles, one sack and one of three interceptions for a Hoya defense that held Marist to just 140 yards of offense to record the first victory in Sgarlata's head coaching tenure.
"I thought the defense played incredible the entire night," Sgarlata said. "They came up with big plays time and time again and Novacki's touchdown broke the game wide open for us."
Senior linebacker Nick Alfieri (Portland, Ore./Jesuit/The Hotchkiss School) had a game-high 14 tackles and an interception, junior cornerback Ettian Scott (Okinawa, Japan/Northside (N.C.) intercepted his first career pass and senior defensive end Alec May (Wrenthem, Mass./King Phillip) added eight tackles and two sacks for a defense that consistently made big plays when needed.
Junior quarterback Kyle Nolan (Branford, Conn./Choate Rosemary Hall) scored the last of three second half Hoya touchdowns on a ten-yard run around the left side. Nolan completed 21-of-44 attempts for 194 yards and a touchdown pass. Junior wide receiver Jake DeCicco (Kingston, N.Y./Kingston) had six catches for 60 yards and sophomore tight end Matthew Buckman (Hasbrouck Heights, N.J./Saint Joseph Regional) had five catches for 66 yards to lead the offense.
Neither offense could find traction during a rain-soaked first half. On the Red Foxes third drive of the game, junior linebacker Matthew Satchell (Cherry Hill, N.J./Cherry Hill East) tipped quarterback Ed Achziger's pass attempt and Alfieri picked it off and returned it 42 yards to the Marist three yard line. Three plays later the Hoyas would settle for a 23-yard field goal from sophomore Henry Darmstadter (Alexandria, Va./George Mason) to take a 3-0 lead with 1:55 remaining in the first quarter.
Late in the second quarter the Hoyas drove 60 yards on 13 plays, including a pair of Marist personal foul penalties, before Darmstadter added another field goal, this time from 28-yards, with five seconds left on the clock. Darmstadter finished the night perfect, hitting both of his field goal attempts and all three of his extra point attempts.
The Hoyas made their first drive of the third quarter count, driving 70 yards on 12 plays before Nolan found senior wide receiver Michael Cimilluca (Fairfield, N.J./West Essex) to give GU a 13-0 lead at the 9:09 mark.
Scott halted a promising Marist drive moments later with the second interception of the day for the Blue & Gray. After driving into Hoya territory, Achzinger had his pass to the end zone picked off to keep the score 13-0 at the end of the third quarter.
The Hoyas broke the game open early in the fourth quarter when Novacki dropped back into coverage, intercepted a pass and returned it 48-yards down the right side line for a touchdown. The score gave GU a 20-0 lead with 12:51 remaining in the game.
"When (defensive coordinator Luke) Thompson made the call I knew I would be in a position to make a play," Novacki said of his interception return. "I stepped up and (made the interception) and then got great blocking from my teammates. We all love Coach Sgarlata, so getting this win for him is very special. He's put in so much time for this program and no one is more deserving."
Marist got on the scoreboard for the first time midway through the fourth quarter as Zach Adler returned a punt 91 yards for a touchdown to cut the Hoyas lead to 20-7.
But Nolan sealed the game engineering an 11-play drive that took over five minutes off the clock, before he rushed from ten yards out for a touchdown to give GU a 27-7 lead. Twice during the drive Nolan completed crucial third down passes, the first to DeCicco and later to Buckman, as the Hoyas converted 9-of-20 third downs, while limiting the Red Foxes to just 3-of-14 third down conversions.
The Hoyas return home on Saturday, September 20 when they host Brown University at Multi-Sport Field, with the opening kick-off scheduled for noon. Tickets are still available by visiting www.WeAreGeorgetown.com.