Tough one to swallow

Georgetown gave away a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter of Saturday night's 30-27 loss at Kentucky Christian, souring what would have been the celebration of coach Bill Cronin's 200th win at the school.

By Kal Oakes

Georgetown News-Graphic

Kentucky Christian University’s scintillating comeback and stunning football upset of Georgetown College on Saturday night reminded us all once again that improbable isn’t the same as impossible.

Modern sports analysis can tell us, before or after, a team’s statistical “chance of winning” at any point in a game.

Saturday night’s NAIA and Mid-South Conference showdown wasn’t on ESPN or any other network with those resources, so we can’t report those numbers.

You can be certain, however, that when the Tigers led 17-0 at halftime, that percentage was at least in the low 90s. And when they went up a second time by roughly two touchdowns, with 9:56 remaining, probably the high 90s. Couple that with KCU’s 0-for-life success against GC and the result was a dead lock and mere formality. Then the unthinkable happened, and career win No. 200 for Bill Cronin at Georgetown will have to wait at least two weeks.

Kentucky Christian rallied from that daunting halftime deficit, and a 13-point gap over the final eight minutes, to win on a 25-yard, second-life field goal by Eric Parra Curiel as time expired.

The upset of the No. 21 Tigers christened the new lights at KCU Stadium in Grayson and gave the Knights (2-0) their first win in 12 tries against GC. Their average margin of defeat in the series had been a whopping 31 points.

Third-string quarterback Josh Drucker engineered the upset, completing 10 of 18 passes for 221 yards and two touchdowns, all in the second half.

It was enough to overcome 421 yards and three TDs from Georgetown junior Hunter Krause, who also was picked off twice.

No. 21 GC (0-1) was seemingly well in command when Scott County product Tyler Dummer kicked his second field goal of the night to put the Tigers on top, 20-7, with 12:16 left.

Drucker guided KCU on a quick 73-yard march, capped by a 3-yard TD toss to Kris Lewis on fourth down.

Back stormed the Tigers, who restored the two-score lead when Krause hit J.J. Ogbogu for a 76-yard score and a 27-14 lead with 9:56 left. It was the Tigers’ second one-play score of the evening.

Anton Wheeler caught a 60-yard scoring bomb from Drucker in reply. Georgetown’s Quennon Wilson blocked the extra point.

After a three-and-out by the Knights’ defense, two big catches by DeVon McCoy set up Barkei Minter’s tying touchdown with 3:34 left.

Georgetown drove to the edge of Dummer’s field goal range with a minute to go, but the Tigers eschewed a 48-yard try, and Krause was sacked at the 40.

McCoy (12 catches, 213 yards) and Wheeler (seven for 126) made three more grabs on KCU’s last-minute surge and moved the ball inside the 5.

The Tigers blocked Parra’s first bid for the game-winner but roughed the kicker for a first down. Parra was also injured, which forced KCU to throw one quick pass to the end zone (it was incomplete) before the senior recovered sufficiently to split the uprights with his mulligan.

Georgetown’s defense dominated much of the contest. Starr Thompson had an interception and matched Ryan Woolf with a team-leading 14 tackles. Tyler Selby (12) and Zyan Bethel (11) also had double-digit stops, with Bethel bagging the second interception of KCU.

It was a shutout until the Knights’ De’Anta Sipp barreled in from the 1-yard line with 5:06 remaining in the third quarter. Nine previous KCU drives produced the two picks, a pair of turnovers on downs, and three series without a first down.

Jake Johnson and Ogbogu each caught a TD from Krause in the first half.

Krause, who threw five touchdowns and four interceptions in a similar 2018 feast-or-famine performance at KCU, found Ogbogu behind the Knights’ secondary for a 64-yard scoring bomb on GC’s first play from scrimmage.

Johnson’s 22-yard TD catch with 13:41 left in the half capped an eight-play, 73-yard march. Krause completed big throws to Darius Barbour and Ogbogu on separate third downs to extend the drive.

The Tigers squandered a golden opportunity on their next possession when Phedarrius Thompson picked off a pass at the KCU 7-yard line.

It didn’t appear to cost Georgetown any momentum when Riley McKown returned the favor later in the period, making a fourth-down tackle for loss at the Tigers’ 36.

Johnson delivered a 38-yard catch-and-run on the ensuing series. 

That set up three more points from Dummer with one second left to keep the Tigers in apparent command.

Close losses were the bugaboo last season for Georgetown, also. 

Overtime verdicts at home against Bluegrass Division rivals Bethel and Lindsey Wilson saddled GC with a 7-3 record and cost them a second straight trip ot the NAIA playoffs.

Cronin was in line to become only the 92nd coach in college football history, including all divisions of NCAA and NAIA, to amass 200 wins. Of the previous coaches to hit the milestone, only 36 have earned them all with the same school.

Former Georgetown coach Kevin Donley, now with Saint Francis (Indiana), is on that list with 326 wins and counting.

The Tigers travel to Lakeland, Florida, for a date with nationally ranked Southeastern University on Sept. 21. Their home opener is a week later against St. Andrews.

Kal Oakes can be reached via email at sports@news-graphic.com.

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