AURORA – Metea Valley’s offense shredded Geneva for most of Friday night’s Upstate Eight Conference crossover game, but when the Vikings most needed a big defensive play, they got it.
Senior linebacker Joe Boenzi sacked Mustang quarterback Blaise Bell on fourth down with less than a minute to play to preserve a 49-45 Geneva victory.
“The defensive line did a great job pushing them outside,” Boenzi said. “Our corners and safeties did a good job guarding their guys. I just had an opportunity to make a play.”
Geneva coach Rob Wicinski had a feeling the game would go down to the wire.
“I just told [the players], all we have to do is make one more play than them,” Wicinski said. “Some kids made some plays down the stretch on both offense and defense.”
Geneva junior quarterback Daniel Santacaterina and his receivers were making plays all night. Santacaterina threw for 359 yards and five touchdowns.
“The whole offense was making plays,” Santacaterina said. “The line gave us time. The defense made stops when they had to. We scored when we had to. It was just an awesome offensive effort.”
The Vikings (6-2) totaled 563 yards of offense. T.J. Miller rushed for 124 yards on 14 carries and scored the game-winning touchdown from a yard out with 1:32 left in the game.
With the two teams trading touchdowns all night, the Mustangs (4-4) used a successful onside kick in the third quarter to put together back-to-back touchdown drives to take a 38-27 lead.
“Their running back [Jay Parker] is great,” Boenzi said. “He ran hard. Their offensive line pushed. They kept fighting and we just didn’t give up. We fought back. We made one me play than they did.”
Parker gained 153 yards on 20 carries. Teammate Christian Wilcox added 135 yards on the ground, with 61 coming on one touchdown run.
Santacaterina hit Max Woodworth wide open over the middle for a 39-yard touchdown play to cut the Metea Valley’s lead to 42-38 with 5:21 to play. The Vikings then stopped Wilcox just short of a first down on a fourth-and-2 play at the Geneva 22.
Santacaterina then connected with junior Pace Temple on a 42-yard pass play to set up Miller’s TD plunge.
Geneva receivers made highlight-reel plays all night long, frequently winning battles with defensive backs for 50-50 balls.
“We’ve got a lot of playmakers,” Santacaterina said. “If I get time to throw, with those playmakers, we’re going to make things happen.”
Senior Kyle Brown hauled in five passes for 138 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns. On one of those, Brown broke free from a defender on a slant route and went 70 yards for a score. Woodworth also caught two touchdown passes and Michael Landi scored on a 55-yard pass play. Liam Burns also ran for a 38-yard touchdown in the victory, which assures Geneva of a return to the playoffs after a one-year absence.
GENEVA 49, METEA VALLEY 45
Geneva 7 13 15 14 - 49 Metea Valley 7 17 14 7 - 45
HOW THEY SCORED
MV - Dodson 7 pass from Bell (Sfikas kick), 7:31 G - Woodworth 57 pass from Santacaterina (Browere kick), 6:04Second quarter
MV - Bell 19 run (Sfikas kick), 11:52 G - Burns 38 run (Browere kick), 9:30 MV - Sfikas 27 FG, 4:26 G - Brown 37 pass from Santacaterina (kick failed), 1:53 MV - Parker 32 run (Sfikas kick), 1:04Third quarter
G - Brown 70 pass from Santacaterina (Browere kick), 7:42 MV - Wilcox 61 run (Sfikas kick), 5:53 MV - Dodson 12 pass from Bell (Sfikas kick), 2:58 G - Landi 55 pass from Santacaterina (Temple run), :30Fourth quarter
G - Woodworth 39 pass from Santacaterina (Browere kick), 5:21 MV - Wilcox 16 run (Sfikas kick), 4:24 G - Miller 1 run (Browere kick), 1:32
RUSHING - Geneva: Miller 14-124, Woodworth 5-20, Santacaterina 9-22, Burns 11-48. Totals: 39-214. Metea Valley: Parker 20-153, Wilcox 9-135, Oliver 8-58, Bell 9-13. Totals: 46-359.PASSING - Geneva: Santacaterina 11-18-0-369. Metea Valley: Bell 8-18-1-101.RECEIVING - Geneva: Brown 5-138, Woodworth 2-96, Landi 2-85, Temple 2-50. Metea Valley: Oliver 2-10, Dodson 5-82, Fralic 1-9.TOTAL OFFENSE -- Geneva 583, Metea Valley 460