Having been outscored by a 175-56 margin during its 3 previous meetings with Geneva since 2010, Larkin's football team relied on the big play to stay with the Vikings Friday night.
But in the end, the Vikings' ball control ground game was simply too much.
Led by tailbacks T.J. Miller (30 carries, 197 yards) and Max Woodworth (10 carries, 147 yards), the Vikings (2-2, 1-1) amassed 386 yards rushing as they escaped with a 41-34 Upstate Eight Conference River Division victory over the Royals (2-2, 1-1) at Memorial Field in Elgin.
"I think we dodged a bullet (tonight)," said Geneva coach Rob Wicinski, whose team committed 4 turnovers and was whistled for 12 penalties totaling 120 yards. "We've got issues."
Those issues included several defensive breakdowns that allowed the Royals to nearly pull off a Homecoming victory.
"These guys have been beaten by 40-45 points (by Geneva) their freshman and sophomore years and then last year (56-23) as juniors," said Royals offensive coordinator Matt Freesman, who took over for head coach Mike Scianna (recovering from major knee surgery).
"Taking that into account, we're very happy with our kids and what they accomplished tonight. Now we just need to take another step and win some of these games."
The game's wildest sequence came late in the second quarter when 4 touchdowns were scored in a 1-minute, 20-second span with Geneva clinging to a 6-0 lead.
First, Kyle Brown (4 receptions, 64 yards) scored on a 7-yard touchdown pass from Daniel Santacaterina (10 for 18, 174 yards) to give the Vikings a 13-0 lead.
Less than a minute later, the Royals got on the board when quarterback Kemmerin Blalark connected with Dante Bonds on a 64-yard TD pass.
After Justin Nebel returned the ensuing kickoff 81 yards for a Vikings score that extended their lead to 20-7, the Royals struck again when Damion Clemons (10 carries, 151 yards) raced 90 yards for a TD that pulled the home team within 20-14 at halftime.
On the first play from scrimmage in the second half, Clemons caught a 67-yard TD pass from Blalark and Ramon Vargas' extra-point kick gave the Royals their first lead at 21-20.
Miller capped a 6-play, 66-yard drive with a 7-yard touchdown to put Geneva back on top 27-21 -- but that lead lasted all of 12 seconds.
After a touchback put the ball on the 20-yard line, Blalark handed the ball off to Clemons, who raced untouched up the middle for an 80-yard TD that tied the game at 27-27 (PAT kick blocked).
"Bubba -- he's hard to stop," Freesman said of Clemons.
"When they get out in the open field -- they've always had great skill," Wicinski said of the Royals. "We kind of let them loose."
Geneva took the lead for good on Woodworth's 22-yard TD run with 3:52 left in the third quarter and added a fourth-quarter score when Santacaterina tossed a 16-yard TD pass to Brown.
Larkin put another scare into the Vikings when defensive back Alex Duran recovered a fumble and raced 67 yards for a touchdown that closed the gap to 41-34 with 2:35 remaining.
But Billy Douds recovered the ensuing onside kick and the Vikings were able to run out the clock to preserve the victory.