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Georgetown football does it with defense to reach NAIA semis for first time since 2011

The Georgetown College football team is headed to the NAIA semifinals for the first time since 2011 after a 31-21 victory over Indiana Wesleyan on Saturday.

Davon Starks, a senior defensive back from Hamilton, Ohio, returned two interceptions for touchdowns as the Tigers built a 31-7 lead from which the visitors never recovered. Georgetown’s balanced offense did the rest, as quarterback Gehrig Slunaker completed 15 of 22 passes for 126 yards and a TD and also ran for a score, and former Frederick Douglass High School star Darius Neal rushed 30 times for 132 yards.

In the semifinals of the 68th annual NAIA Football Championship Series, No. 4 seed Georgetown (10-1) will visit No. 1 Northwestern College of Orange City, Iowa (13-0). While Georgetown was dispatching No. 6 Indiana Wesleyan on Saturday, Northwestern beat No. 12 St. Xavier (Illinois) 34-17. The other NAIA semifinal will pit No. 3 Keiser University of Fort Lauderdale, Florida (10-2) against No. 11 College of Idaho (10-2).

The championship game will be contested Dec. 18 at Durham County Memorial Stadium in Durham, North Carolina.

Kickoff times for the semifinals have not yet been announced.

Georgetown is playing its second season under the leadership of head coach Chris Oliver, who coached previously at Lindsey Wilson College, which he guided to the NAIA title in 2020. Oliver’s first Georgetown team went 7-3 and missed the postseason. This year’s Tigers have not been beaten since a 28-24 loss to Reinhardt (Georgia) on Sept. 23, and they’ll bring an eight-game winning streak into the semifinals.

Georgetown essentially put away Saturday’s game in a span of two minutes and 20 seconds late in the second quarter.

Neal converted a fourth-and-1 from the Indiana Wesleyan 2-yard line, setting up a 1-yard run by Slunaker for the first score of the game 2:34 before halftime.

On Indiana Wesleyan’s next play from scrimmage, Starks intercepted a tipped ball and raced 43 yards for a 14-0 lead. On IWU’s next drive, the Tigers’ Colton Cornish (Anderson County) sacked the QB and stripped away the ball. Teammate Isaac Young (South Warren) picked it up and ran 25 yards to the Wildcats’ 16. Three plays later, Slunaker found Aaron Maggard (Paris) for an 11-yard TD pass and a 21-0 halftime lead.

Starks returned his second interception 33 yards for a touchdown with 5:12 to go in the third quarter.

Neal was named offensive player of the game and Starks defensive player of the game.