Difference maker

Jake Johnson had a pair of long catches for Georgetown College on Friday night, including a touchdown, in the Tigers' win at Thomas More.

Opportunistic offense, dynamic defense and superb special teams have turned this strangest of seasons into a splendid spring for Georgetown College football.

No. 16 GC stayed on track for an NAIA playoff berth Friday night with a 24-14 triumph over Thomas More University at BB&T Field in Crestview Hills.

Bookend touchdowns by the Saints weren’t enough to overcome 24 consecutive points, five sacks, two forced turnovers and two blocked kicks by the Tigers (5-1), who won their third straight Mid-South Conference Bluegrass Division contest.

Georgetown travels to Pikeville on Friday with a chance to nail down second place in the division and its best regular season winning percentage since the 2017 season.

Jake Dampier was 23-for-43 through the air for 238 yards and two touchdowns, one each to favorite targets Jake Johnson (five receptions, 109 yards) and Darius Barbour (seven catches, 76 yards).

Marcus Omosule scooped up a fumble and returned it for the other Tiger touchdown. Payton Standifer picked off a pass, while Sander Roksvag swatted down a Thomas More field goal try to complement his 1½ quarterback sacks.

GC remains ranked among the top 10 nationally in sacks per game (third), pass offense (sixth) and rushing defense (eighth). In the latter category, they smothered the Saints to the tune of 47 net yards on 27 attempts.

A turnover on downs and three punts put the Tigers in a 7-0 hole to start the evening. Blaine Espinosa’s 52-yard bomb to Charles Gaines set up a 22-yard touchdown strike to Roques Dowdy with 4:05 remaining in the first quarter.

Georgetown gained control with back-to-back scores midway through the second. Standifer’s interception and 20-yard return deep into Thomas More territory set up the equalizer.

Two plays later, Dampier found Barbour in the back of the end zone on a post pattern with 7:55 to play in the half. Chris Cline’s extra point tied it.

The defense went right back to work, with a combined sack of Espinosa by DJ White and Chad Holleran punctuating a three-and-out in the shadow of the Saints’ goal line.

Dampier dropped a third-and-10 dime along the sideline to Johnson, who maintained his balance to finish the 45-yard, go-ahead score.

GC couldn’t capitalize on a blocked punt in the final two minutes, but a sack by Roksvag and Rafael Rhone finished the half in fitting fashion.

Thomas More failed to move the chains on any of its first three series out of intermission, and Georgetown promptly put the game out of reach.

Dampier and Johnson connected again for a 36-yard gain, setting up Cline’s 29-yard field goal and a 17-7 advantage with 8:29 remaining in the third quarter.

Two plays and 73 yards later, Omosule was in the end zone after stripping the ball out of Espinosa’s hands on an ill-fated scramble.

Monalo Caldwell’s 2-yard run completed the scoring with 1:44 left in the game.

Tanner Lawrence was the defensive star with two sacks for Thomas More (2-4), which matched Georgetown by forcing 10 punts.

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

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