It was a slow start for the Georgetown Bulldogs on Friday night, but like this season so far, they didn’t let the early struggles dictate the outcome of the game.
Defense kept the Bulldogs from falling behind early and the offense eventually got hot behind the arm of senior quarterback Tyler McAlister as Georgetown blanked the St. James Sharks 29-0 at Thomas L. Smith, Sr. Stadium.
It’s the second shutout in the past three games for the Bulldogs (3-2), who started 0-2 but have reeled off three straight wins.
“We have come a long way on defense. We are finally starting to buy into our system,” first-year Georgetown coach Ken Cribb said. “We made some changes (after the first two games) and the kids have really bought in, but the biggest thing is we started giving great effort. They are giving effort now like a good defense is supposed to.”
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The Bulldogs defense held the Sharks to minus-7 yards on the ground and forced St. James into 13 negative-yardage plays, including five sacks. DeMarcus Grant had 2.5 sacks, Sheldon Billings and Dylan Powell had one each, and Zaire Barron recorded half a sack. Jahbriel Walker had an interception.
“It all starts with the defensive line,” Billings said. “It starts in the trenches. We got Zaire Barron and DeMarcus Grant up front. It all starts up front. Defensive line is the key to the defense. It is as simple as that.”
St. James had a chance to get on the board first, picking up a first down at the Bulldogs’ 27 at the start of the second quarter. But the Georgetown defense didn’t give up another yard on the drive and forced the Sharks to attempt a 44-yard field goal that fell just short.
“I thought we came out and played hard,” St. James coach Robby Brown said. “We got after it at the beginning, [but] we weren’t real consistent and didn’t take advantage in the red zone on offense. … We are just not real consistent right now, and we gave up some opportunities to keep this a tighter game. But the kids played hard and I thought we got better this week.”
After the missed field goal, McAlister hit on two big pass plays before Tony Lara capped the 6-play, 80-yard drive with a bulldozing 5-yard scoring run. On the drive, Deakidd Anderson outfought a defender on a jump ball for a 45-yard gain and two plays later Alex Smith pulled in an over-the-shoulder catch for a 31-yard gain down to the Sharks’ 5 to set up Lara.
McAlister threw three touchdowns in the second half, two within 1:02 of game time to break open a tight game. The Bulldogs took the second-half kickoff and scored when Fred Taylor took a short pass and outran the defense to make it 13-0. St. James was intercepted on its third play of the ensuing drive and McAlister went deep to Anderson on the Bulldogs’ first play for a 37-yard touchdown to make it 21-0. Smith hauled in a 32-yard scoring pass from McAlister late in the fourth quarter to set the final score.
“We focus more,” McAlister said of the change in his team’s on-field success. “(There is) not as much playing, not as much joking in practice. We are actually executing and giving way more effort than we did the first two games. The defense is playing stout and you can’t stop them.”
McAlister finished 14-of-18 passing for 236 yards while Anderson had four catches for 104 yards.
Sophomore quarterback Berkeley Young threw for 86 yards for St. James (0-5) and Jay-Mion Pressley rushed 11 times for 28 yards.
“We got better at some things and that is what we have to keep doing,” Brown said of his young Sharks. “Hopefully we will put it together for a game, but we just have to keep plugging along and get better.”
St. James gets rival Socastee at home next Friday night while Georgetown is off next week before starting region play with a visit to Aynor on Sept. 30.
G—Tony Lara 5 run (Josh Jones kick), 7:47
G—Fred Taylor 41 pass from Tyler McAlister (kick failed), 9:05
G—Deakidd Anderson 37 pass from McAlister (Lara run), 7:56
G—Alex Smith 32 pass from McAlister (Zaire Barron pass from Smith), 3:52
Rushing: St. James, Jay-Mion Pressley 11-28, Sage Pascoe 1-4, Berkeley Young 7-(-37), Trey Myers 1-4, Grant DuVall 3-(-2), Team 1-(-4). Georgetown, Tyler McAlister 9-27, Tony Lara 11-25, Deakidd Anderson 1-8, Christian Johnson 4-34, Jahbriel Walker 2-18, Diquawn Washington 5-11, Team 1-(-12).
Passing: St. James, Young 10-23-1-86. Georgetown, McAlister 14-18-0-236.
Receiving: St. James, Myers 2-7, Pascoe 2-24, Hunter Smiley 1-10, Jay-Mion Pressley 2-2, Gage Flohr 3-43. Georgetown, Alex Smith 3-68, Fred Taylor 4-46, Anderson 4-105, Lara 1-0, Marcus Nesbitt 1-7, LeMarkeus McCray 1-10.