BATAVIA – Allowing an 80-yard touchdown run in the final 90 seconds didn’t particularly grate on Batavia football players Friday night.
Their season still was unblemished and their student section was shouting dance hits dating to their infancy. And oh, by the way, archrival Geneva still trailed by two scores.
Chants of “Just like last year!” meant the Bulldogs again had defeated the Vikings, this time 35-21 in the Upstate Eight Conference River Division opener.
Luke Cella’s long run – like Bobby Hess’ two quarters earlier – might have had Batavia tugging at its collars, although that was about it.
“We knew Geneva would be tough at first,” Bulldogs right guard Mitchell Krusz said, “but we knew that if we kept hitting them and kept driving the ball on them, we would win.”
Batavia (3-0, 1-0 UEC River) exploited its opponents’ early mistakes and inconsistencies to send Geneva to its first 0-3 start since 1999, coach Rob Wicinski’s first season on the job.
The Vikings, 0-1 in league play, lost sophomore starting quarterback Daniel Santacaterina to a shoulder injury late in the third quarter, adding another challenge to a trying first month.
“We’re close,” Wicinski said, “and it sounds like that’s going to be the mantra this year. I hope not.”
Wicinski spoke earlier in the week about the need to disrupt the Bulldogs’ offensive “juju” – read: rhythm – in the Vikings’ bid for a victory.
He further gave a disclaimer that his charges might not necessarily be the 11 players to do it; disorientation simply was the surest way to humble a team that now boasts 13 successive regular-season victories.
Facing an uphill climb with the absence of starting defensive linemen Nathan Balettie (concussion) and Jake Boser (ribs) due to injury, Geneva struggled against the Bulldogs’ experienced front five, which continually created room for running backs Anthony Thielk and Anthony Scaccia, who finished with two touchdowns apiece.
“We were dominant on the line,” Krusz said. “We could do anything we wanted to them. Anything. I mean, no problems.”
A week removed from amassing 292 yards of total offense and three touchdowns on 29 touches against Plainfield East, Scaccia dazzled an overflow crowd by again ripping off big runs and excelling in the screen game.
About the only “shorties” were the touchdowns – 2- and 4-yarders from Thielk and Scaccia’s 2- and 13-yarders.
A junior, Scaccia doubles as a standout wrestler and harnessed his speed while competing as a sprinter during track season.
Thielk offered a battering complement to the slashing Scaccia, taking on defenders nearly every time he handled the ball.
“It’s everybody working together,” Scaccia said. “And we all know we still can play better.”
Thielk also saw his share of the secondary, including a 59-yard run late in the second quarter that helped the Bulldogs reestablish the edge against their century-old rivals.
After the Vikings had drawn to within 21-14 on Hess’ 89-yard scoring run and the ensuing point-after, Vikings linebackers Paul Larson and Nick Finnberg made sharp stops on successive short passes.
Facing third and short, the Bulldogs gave the ball the Thielk, who bounced off two defenders before overpowering a third and streaking down the left sideline.
Thielk capped the drive with a 4-yard touchdown run.
“We just have a bunch of playmakers,” Scaccia said, “and we’re happy to make plays.”
BATAVIA 35, GENEVA 21
Geneva 0 14 0 7 – 21
Batavia 13 15 7 0 – 35
HOW THEY SCORED
B – Strittmatter 23 pass from Coffey (Albrecht kick), 10:05 B – Thielk 2 run (run failed), 7:45
B – Thielk 4 run (Coffey pass), 6:52 G – Hess 4 run (Dunlop kick), 5:16 G – Hess 89 run (Dunlop kick), 3:15 B – Scaccia 2 run (Albrecht kick), 0:39
B – Scaccia 13 run (Albrecht kick), 6:40
G – Cella 80 run (Dunlop kick), 1:20
RUSHING – Geneva: Hess 19-131, Cella 3-85, Boenzi 4-13, Soto 1-3, Santacaterina 1-2. Batavia: Scaccia 19-112, Thielk 11-85, Ward 7-12, Miller 1-4, Coffey 1-1. Totals: 39-214.PASSING – Geneva: Santacaterina 6-13-56-0-0, Miller 0-1-0-0-1. Batavia: Coffey 16-26-209-1-1, Albrecht 2-5-12-0-0. RECEIVING – Geneva: Dunlop 2-28, Brown 2-18, 2-10. Batavia: Strittmatter 7-132, Scaccia 5-60, Toth 2-12, Moffatt 1-8, Mullins 1-8, Thielk 1-7, Berry 1-4
Sophomore game: Batavia 14, Geneva 13