- The Washington Times - Monday, September 8, 2008

During its first outing Sunday afternoon at Howard’s Greene Stadium, the D.C. Cup game did not exactly runneth over with football delights.

There was justifiable satisfaction that the District’s only two Football Championship Subdivision schools finally were getting together after a century or so of ignoring each other on the gridiron. And the weather was absolutely perfect, as different as imaginable from Saturday’s soggy scene that caused the contest to be delayed 24 hours.

Referring to repeated TV announcements Saturday night that the game had been postponed to Sunday, Howard athletic director Dwight Datcher exulted, “I couldn’t have paid for that kind of advertising.”

As it turned out, though, the scene of paying customers flocking into the stadium never happened - principally because few Georgetown fans made the short trip across Northwest.

The crowd, using the term loosely, was announced as 6,085, but most spectators on the Hoyas’ side apparently were celebrating Halloween a few weeks early and came disguised as empty seats.

One factor in rescheduling the game for Sunday was that the Redskins weren’t playing. Too bad. The way they looked in their opener, it might have boosted the crowd at Greene Stadium if the Redskins had been on TV.

Those who failed to show at Howard didn’t miss much, because the teams were lousy. The offenses slogged back and forth, though not very far, through a sea of ennui until Georgetown quarterback James (”Don’t Call Me Diamond Jim”) Brady had the foresight to toss passes of 37 and 31 yards to slotback Kenny Mitchell early in the fourth quarter. That gave the Hoyas a 9-7 lead, and they eventually emerged sort of triumphant 12-7.

Artistically pleasing or not, the victory was more than welcome. In two previous seasons, coach Kevin Kelly’s teams went 3-19, so he is not about to toss back any kind of win.

“I don’t know the last time Georgetown was 1-0,” Kelly admitted. It was only three years ago, under Bob Benson, but at the time Kevin was sleeping well at night as an assistant coach with Paul Johnson at Navy.

“We hope this will propel us [onward and upward],” Kelly added. “We talked a lot about dealing with adversity. In the past, we haven’t handled it.”

A short time later, Howard coach Carey Bailey tried to explain how the Bison managed to lose their opener to a poor opponent while a few thousand home fans mumbled and grumbled in the stands. The Bison lost the ball four times and didn’t do much when they hung on to it. After Floyd Haigler’s 5-yard TD pass to Willie Carter in the first quarter, Howard’s attack was totally inoffensive.

“We have to do a better job of coaching,” Bailey said, using a standard excuse after a losing game.

Not to mention a better job of playing. As Bailey spoke, three Bison players sat morosely at his side. Losing to a team like Georgetown is enough to depress anyone.

But, hey, cheer up, coach. Regardless of the outcome, doesn’t it make a lot of sense for Howard to play Georgetown?

Dry chuckle. “It would make lot more sense if we had won.”

Neither school is a traditional football power. During its decades as a member of first the Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association and then the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, Howard has gained attention mostly with some marvelous soccer and track teams. And, oh yes, its swinging band, which is funky enough to bring the departed leaping from graves and urns.

Georgetown, of course, has long qualified as a men’s basketball power under the Thompsons, Junior and III. Once the Hoyas were significant, too, on football fronts, even to the point of playing in the Orange Bowl. But that was, as they say, long ago (1941) and far away.

Nowadays, both football programs have nowhere to go but up, and it’s fitting that they try to do so together. Mediocrity marked their first joint appearance, but that impression need not be lasting.

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