FOOTBALL FINAL: Big Stop, Big Plays Carry St. Charles North Over Geneva
An early goal-line stand and some big plays in key moments help North Stars to 25-6 win over the Vikings.
A goal-line stand by St. Charles North on Geneva's first drive might have been the momentum changer in a big homefield win Friday night for the North Stars.
On the first series, the Vikings marched 80 yards on 11 plays—almost exclusively on the hard running of Bobby Hess—to the North Stars' 1-yard line. But when Geneva tried to punch it in, they were blocked, shackled, muzzled, beaten.
By a wall of North Star blue.
How big was that goal-line stand to start the game?
"It was gigantic," North Stars coach Mark Gould said. "I mean, here’s two teams, we had some confidence after our first wins last week, and we’re trying to carry over into this week. If they come down there and score right away, they’ve got some great momentum, they’ve got the feeling, and we’re the ones on our heels. (But) we stop them, our kids come off hootin’ and hollerin’, and now we’ve got the confidence.
"That’s where a game turns, something like that. It just happens it was early in the game."
Geneva Coach Rob Wicinski said that series was giant economy-sized, as well.
"It’s huge. Credit to them," he said. "We're just not handling adversity real well right now. Just small little adversities. We’re out of sync, we’re not hitting on all cylinders. So when a lot of pieces are out of whack, we kind of clunk down the field a little bit. As an offense—you’ve got to finish."
North Stars linebacker Reese Conroyd gave credit to his teammates.
"In the first series, they were hitting us up with off-tackle traps, real quick, and we were just a little lackadaisical," he said. "Once we got backed up on our own goal line, it kind of woke us up. We said, 'We’ve got to stop these guys, this is big.' Once we did, I feel that was a confidence builder for the rest of the game, for the defense to step it up, and from that point on, I feel we played pretty well."
Two big plays at the tail end of the first half broke a scoreless tie and gave the North Stars the lead they would not relinquish.
With 2:33 remaining, the North Stars blocked a Viking punt and took over on the Geneva 15-yard line. But Geneva's defense stiffened. Facing fourth-and-1, St. Charles North elected to go for it rather than take the chip-shot field goal, made the first down and scored with 13 seconds remaining on an Evan Kurtz run. A bad snap on the extra-point attempt kept it at 6-0 at the half.
Both teams traded field position until late in the third quarter, when Ryan Fischbach hit Benjamin Kaplan on a 35-yard pass up the middle. Then, facing fourth-and-5, Fischbach delivered a screen to Kaplan, who took it 32 yards for a touchdown.
"We missed on a couple passes early on, but we felt we could keep throwing it deep and that we would eventually connect," Gould said. "Our quarterback and receivers stayed positive and that paid off at the end with the big plays."
A 49-yard pass from Fischbach to Zachary Kirby set up a 7-yard touchdown pass from Fischbach to Garrett Johnson, and a bobbled punt return gave the North Stars the ball and led to a 9-yard touchdown run by George Edlund.
Geneva added a nifty 47-yard score from freshman quarterback Nick Derr to junior wide out Kyle Brown for the 25-6 final score.
North advances to 2-3 overall and 2-1 in the Upstate Eight River Division. Geneva falls to its worse record in many seasons, 1-4 overall and 1-2 in the UEC.
For the North Stars, a rainy night and a sloppy field were ideal conditions for a second-straight victory. For the Vikings, there was no joy in mudville.
"There is no option, we’ll just go back to work," Wicinski said. "If you don’t cry, you laugh, you know? So you just keep laughing and keep going."
SCORE BY QUARTER
- Geneva: 0-0-0-6—6
- St. Charles North: 0-6-6-13—25