It’s always a pleasant fall Saturday on the football field where your defense beats the opponent in full.
Georgetown College returned three interceptions for touchdowns – accomplishment coach Bill Cronin said he couldn’t remember his quarter-century at the helm – and clubbed Pikeville University, 52-14, in a battle of undefeated rivals from the Bluegrass Division of the Mid-South Conference at Toyota Stadium.
Junior cornerback Zyan Bethel had two of six picks, covering 24 yards in the first quarter and 70 in the fourth. Senior defensive lineman Marcus Omosule added one for the big guys, winning his 64-yard run to apply the exclamation mark with 6:02 remaining.
“I saw the ball, I saw the green, and I had to go get it. It was a long race, let me tell you, ”Omosule said with a broad smile. “I had one last year against Thomas More who was only about 20 yards away. It was like a mile.
No.9 Georgetown is 4-0 for the first time since 2017 averaging 46.5 points per game. The Tigers also exorcised the demons of back-to-back home defeats to Pikeville (2-1) in 2016 and 2019.
Brandon Burgess threw first-half touchdowns at Jake Johnson, Aaron Maggard and Dylan Hughes, giving the Tigers a seemingly insurmountable 31-0 halftime lead.
Bethel’s second comeback halted a practice that could have taken the Bears to under 10 points and made it a game.
“We’re just trying to stay locked in, keep our foot on the accelerator and do whatever we need to do to keep them off the board,” Bethel said.
Isaiah Cobb sandwiched a touchdown dip in the fourth quarter between the Bethel and Omosule homers.
His 1-yard run immediately followed another bomb from Burgess (15-for-34, 269 yards) to Hughes (four receptions, 140 yards).
“It’s a dangerous football team. They have athletes, as you could see in the third quarter. You have to be on top of your game for them, ”Cronin said. “Once you make a few plays and change the momentum of the game, it’s hard to get it back. I thought our guys were hanging out there. We just need to be a little more disciplined and play a little better in the third quarter.
GC forced five Pikeville turnovers in all.
Rob Sheffield also caught an assist in the prolific first half. Deeek Wellman’s recovery from a muffled punt return after the Tigers lost three goals in their first series immediately led to Johnson’s 25-yard touchdown.
“It was fun,” Cronin said. “It was good to see some of our defenders making such plays, and if you had noticed that we could have had a few more, at least some interceptions.”
Bethel scurried across the Pikeville sideline on his two trips to the end zone after giving the impression he could have been Lee Kirkland’s intended receiver.
His first act and one of Joshua Edwards’ seven extra points on the day made it 14-0 with 8:34 left in the first quarter.
“I just read the quarterback’s eyes. It was locked on the receiver, so I popped it and just went for six, ”Bethel said. “We just watched a lot of movies. Coach House (Shan Housekeeper defensive coordinator) prepares us for the matches. We just have to run, and that’s what we do.
GC benefited from a bizarre personal foul when the Pikeville punter turned around after starting his own end zone and hurled words of choice at Tiger supporters.
This led to Maggard’s 10-yard goal from Burgess in the last minute of the opening period. Zach Babb’s third center-screen conversion helped set it up.
In the second quarter, Burgess dropped a 71-yard dime to a wide-open Hughes, and Edwards atoned for an earlier miss and block with a 41-yard field goal.
“(Burgess) has had its ups and downs today. I don’t think he did a great job with any of his readings. But he’s a competitor. He’s getting better every week, ”Cronin said. “I think we’ve seen a lot of improvements over last week. I think we’ll see it at the movies. This team comes to train ready to work. They seem to stay focused and coachable throughout the week, and I think if this continues we can take a few more steps. “
Pikeville broke in the third quarter on a 1-yard touchdown from Sanders and a 17-yard strike from Kirkland to Eldrick Mason.
Bethel shattered that momentum and Omosule lit the cigar of victory by taking advantage of Payton Standifer’s resounding blow to Kirkland as the quarterback’s arm was in motion.
“We put pressure on him. We knew what was coming, ”Omosule said. “Payton played a great game …”
Georgetown’s next two games will be on the road in Bethel, Tennessee and at No.1 Lindsey Wilson. The Tigers appear to have their best team for many seasons, but they also play in one of the toughest NAIA divisions in the country.
“We rise with the competition, and the competition increases with us,” Omosule said. “Then we have a strong opponent, but for now we’re going to focus on this victory. “