After the first quarter, no would have guessed a late, fourth-quarter stop would be necessary to win this one.
"Give them credit. They fought hard," Geneva coach Rob Wicinski said after the game. "They never gave up. (New head coach Rob Pomazak) didn’t panic, kept to his run game. That was a nice job, I was really impressed with that."
Geneva led 28-0 early in the second period and held a 35-14 lead at halftime, but the North Stars kept pounding and nearly pulled off the miracle rally in the second half.
Geneva advances to 3-2 on the season and 2-1 in the Upstate Eight River Division; North falls to 2-3, 1-2.
Geneva led 35-14 after a blitzkrieg in the first half, but to start the second half, a bobbled shotgun snap to Miller resulted in broken coverage and a 38-yard catch and weaving run by Jon Merriwether. With the touchdown, the North Stars were right back in it at 35-21 with 11 minutes showing on the third-quarter clock.
"We came out in the second half and we had three times when the ball was on the ground and we didn’t get it, and it was like we just started waiting for our wheels to fall off and never gave ourselves a chance (offensively) in the second half," Wicinski said.Both teams traded possessions, but the North Stars took over with about 7:19 left in the game trailing 35-21, and drove the length of the field, taking advantage of a couple Geneva penalties, including a costly unsportsmanlike conduct against the Geneva sideline. They scored on a fourth-down, 19-yard pass from Miller to tight end Garrett Johnson to cut Geneva's lead to 35-28 with 4:30 remaining.
North intercepted and had the ball on their own 31-yard line with 2:55 to go, setting up the defensive stop with 1:48 left to seal the win for the Vikings.
It was a huge win, with playoff implications for both teams. Can Geneva use the momentum as it heads into next week's showdown against St. Charles East?
"We said to the team, 'I keep telling you: Believe.' The coaches are telling you: 'You can be a good football team.' " Wicinski said, later adding that he had mixed feelings about Friday's performance.
"I’m real proud of them to get to that situation, but we’ve got to finish," he said. "When you have a team down, you can’t let them up. It goes back to what we've been telling them all year: 'Play clean, be smart, be tough mentally.'
The First-Half Story
"I've got blisters on my fingers!" to quote John Lennon. That's how it felt trying to type up the machine-gun, rat-a-tat-tat scoring in the first half.
The Vikings put on an aerial show, scoring three times from Daniel Santacaterina to Mike Landi for 25 yards, then to Kyle Brown for touchdowns of 23 and 57 yards, an 8-yard pass to Pace Temple and a 1-yard Santacaterina run that was set up by a 25-yard screen to Temple on a key third down.
"That’s kind of our strength this year, which is unusual for us. We always have some pretty good receivers, but we like to establish the run," Wicinski said. "Tonight we decided we were going to throw the ball early and often. So Santa calmed down and the receivers had some nice catches, and we had some protection up front that was huge.
"I was hoping it would open up the run game, but not so much. We started to run right at them, and with minimal success. I’ve got to stay true to my (plan). When I had a calm, sound mind in June, I knew we had to pass the ball, so we've got to keep passing."
The North Stars showed, not only a juggernaut running game, but a lot of patience, class and courage, coming back on a 10-play scoring drive in the second quarter, then on a 72-yard run by Evan Kurtz to stay within striking distance going into the second half.
Score By Quarters
- Geneva: 21-14-0-0 — 35
- STC North: 0-14-7-7 — 28
Dan Santacaterina to Mike Landi, 25 yards, extra point good. Score: 7-0. 7:49 1st Quarter.
Dan Santacaterina, 1-yard run. Kick no good. Score: 13-0. 4:38 1st Quarter.
Dan Santacaterina to Kyle Brown, leaping catch over a defender, 23 yards. Pace Temple runs in the 2-point conversion. Score: 21-0. 1:36 1st Quarter.
Dan Santacaterina to Kyle Brown, 57 yards. Alex Browere kick good. Score: 28-0. 11:10 2nd Quarter.
Evan Kurtz scores from the 8-yard line after an 11-play drive. Kick good. Score: 28-7. 5:59 2nd Quarter.
Dan Santacaterina to Pace Temple, 8 yards, kick good. Score: 35-7. 2:19 2nd Quarter.
Evan Kurtz scampers 72 yards just 12 seconds after a Geneva touchdown, kick good. Score: 35-14. 2:05 2nd Quarter.
A fumbled snap turns into a St. Charles North score as QB Erik Miller scrambles and finds Jon Merriwether. Kick good. Score: 35-21. 10:40 3rd Quarter.
St. Charles North scores on a fourth-down, 19-yard pass from Erik Miller to tight end Garrett Johnson. Kick good. Score: 35-28. 4:30 4th Quarter.