Geneva rallies to knock off Collinsville
Everything was going according to script for the Collinsville Kahoks on Saturday, but Geneva stole the show.
The Vikings scored two touchdowns in 29 seconds late in the first half, seizing the momentum they needed to rally to a 28-21 victory over Collinsville in a first-round game of the Class 7A playoffs.
"It's huge," Geneva senior quarterback Alex Porter said of the victory. "We haven't been in the playoffs for six years. We came in and we battled. We've been battling all year. We were down, but we've been down. We did our stuff and we took care of business."
Porter's 14-yard touchdown pass to senior Tyler Costello with 2:18 remaining in the third quarter snapped a 21-21 tie and put the Vikings ahead to stay. Geneva (6-4), seeded 26th, will play host to 10th-seeded Chicago St. Rita (8-2) in the second round Friday or Saturday.
Seventh-seeded Collinsville (8-2), seeking its first postseason win in four appearances, led 21-7 when things began to crumble late in the first half.
After junior quarterback Kolby Anderson's 1-yard touchdown run gave the Kahoks their 14-point lead with 1:56 to play in the half, Geneva marched 61 yards on five plays and climbed within 21-14 on senior Carter Powelson's 11-yard TD run with 43.5 seconds left.
Collinsville returned the kickoff to its 37-yard line, but instead of running out the clock and entering the locker room with a seven-point lead, the Kahoks stayed aggressive. It proved to be costly.
Anderson's fumble on the first play was recovered by senior Dylan Pratt, and Geneva took possession with 30.7 seconds on the clock. Two plays later, Porter connected with sophomore Nate Stempowski on a 25-yard TD pass, making it 21-all with 14.6 seconds remaining.
"It gave them momentum at halftime," Collinsville coach Colton Rhodes said. "Looking back, I'm like, 'Man, I wish I could have done that 40 seconds different.' But that's who we are and that's how I am as a coach. I'm going to be aggressive and try to score when I can. It backfired on us that time and I have to live with it. That's OK, though."
The hurt was written all over Anderson's face.
"This is a big adversity thing," said Anderson, who had two rushing touchdowns and a passing TD in the first half. "Some things just don't go your way, and that's how it panned out today.
"But we'll be back. We won't have this feeling ever again."
Anderson's 7-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Darren Pennell put Collinsville ahead 7-0 with 6:42 to play in the first quarter. Geneva tied it on Stempowski's 6-yard TD run at the 2:08 mark.
The Kahoks answered quickly, as Anderson scored on a 7-yard run to put Collinsville ahead 14-7 with 10 minutes left in the second quarter. Anderson's 1-yard run made it 21-7, culminating a 60-yard drive that featured a fake punt on 4th-and-12 that turned into a first down.
It was downhill from for the Kahoks from there, as the Vikings in the second half controlled the clock and tightened up defensively.
Getting the momentum heading into the locker room at halftime was "huge," according to Geneva coach Boone Thorgesen.
"We talk all the time that football is a game of momentum," Thorgesen said. "That's what this game is about. You never know which play is going to be the play. You don't know what's going to set that spark.
"I told our boys that we're so proud of them. I don't recommend this, but every game, we've been down at one point, and we've come back and won six of them. They're fighters, and they continue to believe and lean on each other. It's great when that's a huge trait of your football team."
Collinsville had just nine plays and 29 total yards in the second half, as Geneva's offense contained Anderson. Adding to the Kahoks' woes was an ankle injury to junior Jerry Richardson, their leading rusher who entered the game with 1,322 yards and 14 touchdowns.
"A couple of kids got injured for us and we tried to change some things up," Rhodes said. "Jerry sprained an ankle. He could go, but it wasn't Jerry. We didn't adjust as well as we needed to."
Geneva's winning touchdown was a play it usually runs with more room to operate. But the Vikings learned it also works in the red zone.
"It was a comeback route," said Costello, who made the catch in the left corner of the end zone. "I'm supposed to make it look like a deep route, which it couldn't have been in the end zone. But as soon as that play was called, I knew Alex was going to throw it to me. It's a good route."
Porter said he had a feeling the play was going to work.
"I liked it, I took it and (Costello) made a phenomenal play and made me look good," Porter said. "I saw him, the DB (defensive back) wasn't looking and I knew (Costello) was coming back. I threw it before he turned so the DB wouldn't have a chance, and he just got it.
"We took the lead, they were flattened and we knew it was ours. From there, we just had to kill the clock."
Costello said he wasn't overly concerned when the Vikings trailed 21-7.
"I feel like every time we've been down this year, we've never thought there was no chance of coming back," he said. "I feel like we always believe we can come back. We've always been a deficit team. We don't like it, but we do it a lot. The offense looked really good today."