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Game Preview, Georgetown at Lehigh, 10/19/2013

This season, as mentioned by legendary Hoya football blogger DFW Hoya, is the 75th anniversary of the beginning of what would become a mini college football dynasty in the late 1930s.

Parallel to the emergence of Fordham on the national scene, with Vince Lombardi and their "Seven Blocks of Granite" was the Hoya's undefeated, untied team of 1938, who saw team after team fall to tie or defeat above them and saw them standing alone as Eastern Sectional champions ahead of Villanova and Boston College.

Behind the direction of QB Joe McFadden - an Allen High School grad - the Hoyas would shut out Temple, Bucknell and West Virginia in three consecutive weeks while beating Maryland in College Park 14-7 to conclude their undefeated season.  Since their schedule was considered weak on a national level, they weren't considered for a bowl, but a significant number of the same players would be invited to the Orange Bowl a couple of years later in 1940.

Today's Hoyas, who are sporting a 1-5 record, are actually still looking to establish a perfect record this season, too.  Like Lehigh, they are 0-0 in official Patriot League play and will be looking to be perfect by early evening at Murray Goodman stadium.  Both the Hoyas and the Mountain Hawks' Patriot League seasons' start this weekend, and only one will come out alive.


DFW Hoya's study of the Hoyas' 1938 team and the Georgetown squad of today offer a contrast of Hoya football, as well as college football generally, then and now.

In 1938,  "A careless, lackadaisical Georgetown eleven maintained its undefeated, once-scored-on record yesterday...by crushing Randolph-Macon, its third straight Virginia opponent, 33-0, in an uninteresting game," the Washington Post reported.

It was the Hoyas' third win on the season, but I'm sure Georgetown fans that season got the sense that something special was brewing behind their Lehigh Valley-raised quarterback.

In an era when 17-14 games were the norm, 30 point blowouts stood out, and in 1937, a 2-4-2 campaign for the Hoyas, Georgetown eclipsed the 30 point barrier only once.

In 1938, they hit that mark in each of their first three games, which probably bode well for the fans awaiting games against Manhattan, Temple, and Bucknell.  (Interestingly, Fordham and Georgetown didn't play each other at all from 1928 to 1946, despite the fact that the schools share a lot of similarities.)

When they made it to 8-0, many teams in front of them in the East, notably Villanova, Boston College, and Dartmouth, kept falling, and lightly-regarded Georgetown kept rising and rising.

By the end of their undefeated, untied season, major papers had them as the unofficial champions of the East, though they were curiously absent from the AP Top 25 to end the year.

In 2013, the Hoyas haven't been worrying much about national rankings.

This season, in a very different football era, Georgetown eclipsed the 30 point barrier once, against non-scholarship Davidson, 42-6, and haven't passed it in any game since.

In fact, in their last four losses, against Marist, Fordham, Princeton, and Brown, Georgetown has surrendered more than 30 points.

Princeton's 50 point explosion over the Hoyas was particularly interesting in that the Tigers' 50-22 win was their first 50 point game in 13 years.  Princeton QB Quinn Epperly actually scored 4 TDs in his first 4 rushes of the game.

Granted, the Hoyas also have been suffering a lot in the injury department.

Four different Hoyas have completed a pass this season as the top signal caller.  While senior QB Isaiah Kempf has battled through an apparent hand injury all season, three different QBs have appeared in games for Georgetown.

It's an eerie flashback to last season, where the Hoyas, at one point were down to their fourth-string QB, including their game against Lehigh.

The preseason Patriot League defensive player of the year, senior LB Dustin Wharton, was also out during a couple weeks.  Sophomore RB Joel Kimpela was out for a couple of games.  So was junior LB Nick Alferi.  As the injuries have mounted, both sides of the ball have suffered.

Still, though, Hoya head coach Kevin Kelly has seen some encouraging signs, as noted in his letter this week to the football fans:
Obviously, we are all disappointed in not winning the game [againt Forhdam]. I told the guys on Sunday that there are no moral victories in football. We need to score more points, we need to keep teams out of the end zone and we need to start fast and finish strong. 
At the same time, I am proud of the way that we played, especially in the second half. It says a lot about the character of this team that we continued to fight and I think that is something we can continue to build on going into the Patriot League portion of our schedule. 
Right now, we're 0-0 in the Patriot League and will play a very talented, well-coached team at Lehigh on Saturday. Right now we know that we're still in control of our destiny this season and while we've had adversity the coaches need to keep coaching and the players need to keep playing. We have practiced better the last couple weeks, we're starting to get healthy and there is a sense of optimism, as we have a chance to hit the reset button this week against Lehigh.
Of this last point there is little question.

Last season, the Hoyas very nearly did push the reset button against Lehigh, forcing an amazing seven turnovers but still falling to the Mountain Hawks 17-14.

"The Mountain Hawks - astoundingly - overcame seven turnovers," I wrote, "including four interceptions from senior QB Michael Colvin, and then hung on to win on after the Hoyas final 37 yard field goal attempt was partially blocked by senior DE Tom Bianchi in the closing seconds."

For those who might still labor under the misconception that Georgetown games are easy affairs, the last three Lehigh/Georgetown games have had plenty of championship implications.

In 2010 and 2011, a win over Georgetown meant also winning the Patriot League championship, while last season's win came down to the final play.  In two of the three games, Lehigh trailed at halftime and rallied to win.

Those close calls had better be on everyone's minds in the Lehigh locker room as they enter this game on Saturday.

“We’ve got five league games left and they’re all championship games,” head coach Andy Coen told Keith Groller of the Morning Call earlier this week. “There’s no margin for error here, really. We learned that last year. You’ve got to think that whoever wins the league is going to be undefeated. So, you’ve got to win every game if you want to hold your own destiny.”

Injuries, history, even the 2013 schedules up until this point: they don't really matter as the drive for the Patriot League championship starts in earnest this weekend at Murray Goodman, 0 wins, 0 losses.

Game Notes

One of the best things to come out of Lehigh's game notes from this week is that the Mountain Hawks came out of their trip to Manhattan relatively unscathed from an injury perspective.

Junior DB Jason Suggs, a late scratch from the Columbia game, is now back on the depth chart at corner, and the only other change was seeing freshman LB Colton Caslow, one of LFN's Players of the Week last week, getting inserted in the starting four linebackers for Saturday.

Weather Report

After a week of pristine weather forecasts, a very slight chance of rain has creeped into the forecast, with the latest being a 20% chance of showers for a mostly cloudy day in the mid-60s.  Temperature-wise for mid-October on Family Day, it's going to be a great day to spend three hours outdoors if the rain stays away.

Famous Georgetown Alumnus You Didn't Know About

Certainly there are a lot of famous alums from Georgetown.  President Bill Clinton?  Justice Antonin Scalia?  King Abdullah II of Jordan?  Former Secretary of State Al Haig?  All former Hoyas.  All way too well-known to be listed as an alum you didn't know about.

You have to scroll way down the list to discover Paul Pelosi, the American businessman who owns Financial Leasing Services, and has a famous wife, former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.

Fittingly, three of their children are Georgetown grads.

LFN's Drink of the Week

Lazy, or simply superstitious?  The gods will ultimately decide; but when protecting a winning streak against an opponent like Georgetown, I usually like to go with what got me here.

And what got me here last time Georgetown came to Murray Goodman was a drink call the Hoya.  One part orange juice, 2 parts gin, and 3 parts Ginger Ale, it will hopefully be the drink Hoyas fans use to comfort themselves after they lose this weekend (at least that's what Mountain Hawk fans are hoping).  The last time I used this drink, Lehigh beat the Hoyas 34-12.  I, and undoubtedly most of Lehigh Nation, would appreciate a repeat performance.

As always, Drinks of the Week have a place in responsible tailgates, but only if you behave yourself, don't get behind the wheel while impaired (or worse), and are over 21. Please do that.

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