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The nation's top defense went up against one of the nation's top offenses and in a tale of two halves the offensive team came out on top.
The No. 5 Georgetown College Tigers have been holding opponents to just more than two touchdowns and NAIA opponents to just 1.5 scores. However, Faulkner has been putting up a lot of points against all its opponents. Saturday, in a wild third quarter, the Eagles (3-3) out-scored the Tigers (2-2) and held on, 55-31, in Montgomery, Ala.
The Eagles are just in their seventh season of football, but piled up 700-plus yards, including 209 on the ground, to come out on top.
Georgetown enforced its defensive will early as the game was 7-3 Faulkner at the half. The Tiger defense then opened the third quarter with an interception returned for a score and a 10-7 lead. Trump Harrison bobbled a Josh Hollingsworth pass that Jaylan Bailey corralled and returned 45-yards for the quick score.
That was the first of nine touchdowns in 15 minutes with four lead changes. Faulkner scored 21-unanswered over the next five minutes as Georgetown's offense sputter with three and outs.
But Neal Pawsat came to life trailing 28-10. He hit Branden Burdette in stride for a 66-yard, first play from scrimmage, touchdown. Faulkner fumbled the ball on the very next offensive play that set up a second Pawsat to Burdette strike from 26-yards and a 28-24 game. The Tiger defense stonewalled the Eagles again, setting up a third Georgetown score in just less than four minutes. First play from scrimmage was a sack, but the second was a Pawsat to Logan Crockett 78-yard strike and 31-28 lead with 4:23 left in the third quarter.
Faulkner calmed things down, running a series that took exactly three minutes off the clock and recaptured the lead for good on a 25-yard pass from Josh Hollingsworth to Damon Baca.
Georgetown ran four plays and set up to punt with just more than 10 seconds left in the third. Jarrod Combs' punt took a few bounces as the quarter horn was sounding and hopped into Harrison's arms. The return man went untouched for the ninth touchdown of the quarter.
The Tiger offense was unable to find life again, punting twice, throwing two interceptions and turning it over on downs in their final five possessions.
Faulkner added a touchdown and two field goals in the fourth to salt the game away.
"It was a wild game," Hollingsworth said. "The third reminded me a lot of the overtime game a few years ago against Union.
"Today, we wanted to come out and out-tempo them. Run a lot of plays and in the third we started to realize where we were hurting them and were getting in the right sets."
Faulkner ran a total of 96 plays for 712 yards to Georgetown's 66 and 403. The Tiger defense came in very stingy against the ground attack, coming off holding Kentucky Christian to -79 yards on the ground. However, Faulkner compiled 209 rushing yards on 47 plays. Demetre Baker had 19 carries for 129 yards.
The first half was typical Georgetown defense, giving up just 20 yards on the ground and thwarting one redzone attack to keep the game at 7-3. However, the offense never seemed to really get on track.
After 10 first downs in the first half, GC managed just five in the second – three of which were on the long touchdown plays to get back into the game.
A fourth was a defensive penalty before the punt that led to Harrison's touchdown. The Eagles doubled the Tigers in first downs (33-15) and nearly doubled them in passing yards (503-344) and total yards (712-403).
"We've given up big leads the past several weeks, but even with Georgetown scoring to regain the lead I didn't feel like here we go again," said Faulkner head coach Brent Barker. "Josh and our running backs just kept putting us in position to score. We were making great play calls to get the biggest win for our program thus far."
Georgetown held the first lead of the game at 3-0 and then twice found itself back on top, but never in control. The Tigers are on the final leg of playing three road games in four weeks. They will return home this Saturday for the first time since opening the season on Sept. 5 to host Campbellsville University for Homecoming.