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As big of a die-hard Green Bay Packers fan as you will meet, it seemed odd to hear Batavia assistant coach Mike Gaspari use a phrase associated with Chicago Bears star Devin Hester when describing Bulldogs junior running back Anthony Scaccia.
"Anthony Scaccia, you are ridiculous!" Gaspari told the team at practice Thursday.
An overflow crowd on a crisp Friday night at Bulldogs Stadium saw just how ridiculous the shifty Scaccia can be as he cut and wove his way through Geneva's defense for 138 yards and 2 touchdowns in Batavia's 35-21 victory.
Scaccia also had a pair of long touchdowns called back by penalty, a 51-yard reception and an 80-yard kickoff return.
"We all think he is amazing," said senior wide receiver Zach Strittmatter who had a big night of his own. "You can never stop blocking because he's going to break tackles every time so you have to keep blocking every play."
Batavia's second straight win in a series that celebrated its 100th year anniversary Friday -- take that, Bears-Packers -- closed Geneva's all-time lead to 51-38-5. It also got the Bulldogs (3-0, 1-0 in the Upstate Eight River Conference) off on the right foot in defense of their conference title while dropping Geneva to 0-3, 0-1.
Scaccia had plenty of company putting up impressive offensive numbers. Strittmatter caught 7 passes for 130 yards and a 23-yard touchdown reception on Batavia's first drive of the game. Micah Coffey completed 15 of 25 passes for 193 yards, a touchdown and 2-point conversion. And running back Anthony Thielk scored a pair of touchdowns while rushing for 82 yards.
"Anthony and Anthony, Thielk and Scaccia, it's a nice combination," Batavia coach Dennis Piron said. "We've got some good blocking fullbacks. We have talented kids who work very hard. And our offensive line is getting better every week."
Geneva opened with a 3-and-out and then a 5-yard punt, giving Batavia possession at Geneva's 29-yard line. Strittmatter and Geneva's Noah Parsons both battled to come down with the ball on Coffey's first touchdown pass before Strittmatter wrestled it away.
The Vikings then fumbled the ensuing kickoff when Batavia's Rob Bowman chased down the ball carrier from behind to strip the ball on what would have been a long return. Batavia drove 57 yards to go up 13-0 less than four minutes into the game, a drive capped when Thielk bowled over a would-be tackler from 2 yards out after Coffey's perfect strike to Strittmatter on third-and-long kept the series alive.
"I've got to give him credit, he (Thield) ran over us a little bit there," Geneva coach Rob Wicinski said. "We didn't think he could do that and he did. More power to him.
"That's the second week in a row we've had a 3-yard punt. Wheaton North gets the ball at the 26, they (Batavia) get the ball at the 26, you just don't get good starts that way. We have to do better obviously."
After another Thielk touchdown run put Batavia up 21-0, the Vikings tried to make a game of it with a pair of big plays. T.J. Miller's 56-yard kickoff return led to a 19-yard touchdown march on a 4-yard Bobby Hess run.
After Jeremy Hanson's interception halted Batavia near the goal line, Hess broke free around the left end and flashed his speed down the sidelines for an 89-yard touchdown.
Batavia answered quickly with Coffey directing the hurry-up offense down the field and into the end zone just 39 seconds before halftime to put the Bulldogs back up 28-14. Scaccia gave Geneva fits on the drive just as he did all night, often finding some wiggle room when it appeared the Vikings had him bottled up. Of his 19 carries, Scaccia gained 5 or more yards on 14 of them.
"We have a bunch of playmakers and we were just happy to make plays," Scaccia said. "In the beginning of the season I had troubles, I'd try to bounce out a lot and it's hard with the different speed level. I just have to slow play behind my line and wait to make my cut."
By halftime Batavia had 303 yards of offense split nearly even on the ground -- 160 -- and through the air -- 143. The Bulldogs then opened the second half taking 5:20 off the clock on an 11-play, 68-yard touchdown drive, their final points of the night on Scaccia's 13-yard scamper.
"They can get through any hole," right guard Mitchell Krusz said of the backs. "Anthony (Thielk) is more of a power back, he can make his own. Scaccia, you give him the slightest sliver and he gets through and goes 150 percent every play. It's easy to block for him. He's got great vision, great agility."
After Batavia's opening touchdown march in the third quarter made it 35-14, things went from bad to worse for Geneva with a potentially season-ending injury to quarterback Daniel Santacaterina. The promising sophomore left the game with 4:48 remaining in the third quarter after being tackled hard by Marquise Jenkins who came free around the end.
"It's a physical game," Wicinski said. "I don't know. I think it's (the injury) pretty bad."
Luke Cella put the final points on the board with an 80-yard touchdown run with 1:20 left in the game.
"Coming into the game because they were 0-2 there was some thought we might take the game easier or not put in the effort but everybody the rest of the year is going to get the same effort a playoff team gets and will get our best," Piron said.
"We have to clean a lot of little things up and if we do I think we have a very special football team here again this year. I think we'll be a very hard team to beat."