Pick-ups are great, but stop after stop without letting your opponent’s soccer offense even get the paint on the goalposts.
No. 8 Georgetown College had an interception Saturday, increasing its forced turnover tally to a dynamite dozen. Tennessee
“Even though the game was decided in the last few minutes, that’s a big plus,” said GC coach Chris Oliver. “You can see guys are really excited about keeping that goose egg there.”
The Tigers (4-0) forced seven fumbles, stopped two drives on downs and blocked another on Davon Stark’s pick. Cumberland didn’t get past Georgetown’s 23-yard line after Phoenix’s opening drive stalled on a pass breakup.
It was the first shutout for GC since a 38-0 rout of No. 2 seed Cincinnati Christian University in 2018.
“Our defense has been playing solid football to start the season, and we’ve continued to improve,” Oliver said. “I thought it was a very complete game defensively, so to finish it for 60 minutes and keep it off the scoreboard was great.”
Chad Holleran set the tone for the Tigers with an impressive 17 tackles, all but four of those solo efforts. Two of his stops went for negative yards, and he also broke up two passes.
A pair of sacks by DJ White and Jacob Harmon helped hold Cumberland to 248 total yards.
Two long drives and two big plays did the damage in GC’s fourth double-digit win to start the season.
Drew Hartz hit Dillon Warren with a 6-yard touchdown pass to cap the Tigers’ 10-play, 77-yard opening march. Darius Neal’s runs of 24 and 11 yards and a personal foul on Phoenix sparked the drive.
White and Harmon combined to tackle Phoenix QB Luke Holloway for a six-yard loss from Cumberland into Georgetown territory in the first quarter.
That led to a punt and a touchdown return, which set another 14-game streak from the Tigers. Hartz scrambled for 15 yards on third-and-13 late in the period, and Neal capped the second with a 20-yard burst.
Two incomplete passes in the red zone led GC to a 33-yard Chris Klein field goal and a 10-0 lead with 12:08 left in the half.
Starc again came up big to stifle Cumberland’s next drive. Phoenix forced a fumble, then on third-and-short a yard shy of a pass that blocked a keeper in Holloway.
“In this day and age of football, where offenses are 15 or 20 years ago, it’s very difficult to keep an opponent off the scoreboard, with the speed of the game and the tempo of the game where we seem to run a lot of plays,” Oliver said. Have a great day.”
GC’s next two possessions were punts, but the Tigers got their second wind after punting at their own 46 with 40 seconds left.
Hartz ran out the clock with completed passes to Warren, Josh Gary and Aaron Maggard, leaving enough time for LaDarion Montgomery to make a 24-yard TD run with three seconds left on the clock.
The defense took over in a scoreless third period. Cumberland held Georgetown to six total yards in that stretch, before the Tigers went on to hold Phoenix to the tune of 26 yards on 17 plays.
We were more efficient (this week. We still need more explosive plays),” Oliver said. “We made a couple of big runs in the first half and maybe got away from those things a little bit. Credit to them for fixing it. He should have given Darius the ball a bit more in the second half.
Freshman QB Gehrig Slunaker led GC’s lone scoring drive of the second half. Maggard had gains of 19 and 14 before connecting with JC Shegog for a 41-yard TD. A clean putt sealed the final score with 13:47 left.
Slunaker and Harts were a combined 18-for-29 for 187 yards. Neal led the Tigers with 11 carries for 87 yards.
“We were playing a team that tried to take the ball away from us,” Oliver said. “It was a strange game. We didn’t have many possessions.
Homecoming is big Saturday when GC welcomes No. 13 Bethel (Tennessee) to Toyota Stadium for a 1:30 p.m.