GEORGETOWN — Georgetown College had plenty of reasons to be on emotional overdrive.
The fourth-ranked Tigers, playing their home opener, had an 11-game home-field winning streak and an 18-game regular-season winning streak to protect.
Plus, the Thursday night game at Toyota Stadium marked the debut on its new synthetic field surface.
If the Tigers were distracted, they didn't show it in a 34-20 Mid-South Conference victory over Faulkner.
Zach Sowder ran 10 times for 72 yards with three TDs.
"Just got the ball close to the end zone," Sowder said. "O-line did a great job. Great job."
Melvin Posey added 75 yards on 13 carries, helping Georgetown to a 200-16 advantage on the ground.
Neal Pawsat passed for 238 yards and a score, completing 19 of 26 passes.
Coach Bill Cronin credited his 26 seniors for keeping Georgetown's mind on the task at hand.
"Kids are really committed and passionate about what they're doing, and that helps," Cronin said.
"We really do appreciate everybody that went to bat for us to get this field. It's an awesome field to play on, and I'm glad we can get our first game, first win. I was a little worried because I knew Faulkner had an explosive offense and they're much improved on defense. I thought it was going to be a lot closer than what it really was. But I'm proud of our guys because they played hard throughout."
In addition to Sowder's three TDs, Georgetown scored on a 5-yard pass from Pawsat to Rob Madon, plus a pair of Alex Kreimer field goals.
"It was amazing, just to be on the new field and under the lights. Just an atmosphere we're not used to," Madon said. "So to have everybody supporting us, everybody from the student section to our fans, they were amazing tonight."
Both teams came in off season-opening MSC wins.
Georgetown led 17-0 at halftime.
After going three-and-out to open the game, the Tigers caught a break on Faulkner's second play from scrimmage, when the ball simply squirted out of the hands of quarterback Josh Hollingsworth.
Jake Conner recovered for Georgetown on the Faulkner 21, and Sowder scored moments later on a 16-yard draw play.
Spurred by two pass interference calls and a personal foul, Faulkner drove to the Georgetown 1-yard line before being stopped on fourth down. D.J. Lemons led the surge to stop David Amos for no gain.
"Defense played really well. Linebackers, defensive backs, the whole D-line," said Patrick Dougherty, who had a tackle-for-loss in addition to half a sack. "Gotta give it up to the offense for driving on them, though."
After Kreimer's first field goal, Pawsat hooked up with Madon for a 17-0 lead with 4:21 left.
"Neal threw a great ball," Madon said. "I had a fade to the end zone. Neal just made a great read. It was behind the shoulder. ... All I had to do was catch it."
Sowder's second TD, a 1-yarder with 2:45 left in the third quarter, made it 24-0.
The team from Mobile, Ala., rallied behind Hollingsworth, who finished 24-for-32 for 275 passing yards, including three TDs — a 3-yarder to Trump Harrison, a 66-yarder to Steven Dawson and a 42-yarder to David Amos.
Sowder's 9-yard scoring run with 3:37 left put the Tigers on top 34-13.
"We played a good football team tonight," Cronin said. "They're physical, but I thought we outphysicaled them, and then we played smart and held onto the football like we had to."
Faulkner 0 0 6 14 — 20
Georgetown 7 10 7 10 — 34
GC—Zach Sowder 16 run (Alex Kreimer kick); GC—Kreimer 26 field goal; GC—Rob Madon 5 pass from Neal Pawsat (Kreimer kick); GC—Sowder 1 run (Kreimer kick); FU—Trump Harrison 3 pass from Josh Hollingsworth (kick blocked); GC—Kreimer 43 field goal; FU—Steven Dawson 66 pass from Hollingsworth (Hunter Kennamer kick); GC—Sowder 9 run (Kreimer kick); FU—David Amos 42 pass from Hollingsworth (Kennamer kick). Records—FU 1-1 overall, 1-1 Mid-South; GC 2-0, 2-0.
Mark Maloney: (859) 231-3229. Blog: markmaloney.bloginky.com