Daily Herald's 2017 Season Coverage
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updated: 9/10/2016 12:01 AM

St. Charles East notches big win over Geneva

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Seeking its first 3-0 start since 2013, St. Charles East's football team was also searching for a rare victory over Upstate Eight Conference River Division rival Geneva Friday night.

Mission accomplished.

The opportunistic Saints (3-0, 1-0) forced 6 turnovers, including 4 interceptions, during their 30-0 triumph over the Vikings (1-2, 0-1) at Norris Stadium.

It marked the Saints' first win over Geneva since 2012 and was just the second in their last 10 meetings dating back to 2007.

"With a program like Geneva -- as good as they've been -- we haven't gotten over that Tri-Cities hurdle," said Saints coach Bryce Farquhar. "This is the first step in getting over the Tri-Cities hurdle. I thought our South Elgin win (39-9 in Week 1) was big. This is another big win in that process."

St. Charles East took the opening kickoff and marched into the red zone before the 15-play drive stalled, resulting in Matt Burns' 30-yard field goal that made it 3-0.

It was just the start of the Saints' fun.

An interception and 45-yard return by junior free safety Clayton Isbell ended the Vikings' opening possession and helped set up a 5-yard touchdown run by quarterback Zach Mitchell (11 carries, 92 yards) via a punishing block by fullback Dante Macaluso.

Led by running backs Luke Swanson (14 carries, 71 yards) and Lance Arni (22 carries, 90 yards), the Vikings put together an impressive 8-play, 60-yard drive before the Saints' defense stiffened.

Senior linebacker Sam Grohe made a jarring hit to cause a fumble that teammate DeAndre Allen recovered on the first play of the second quarter.

"We're going after the ball every play," said Grohe, who collected 8 tackles and an interception. "We came out thinking about last year (27-26 loss to Geneva). We knew we had to fly around and get to the ball."

After junior Nick Garlisch (9 carries, 113 yards) shed several tackles in the backfield during a 38-yard run, Mitchell broke free for a 41-yard TD scramble to up the Saints' lead to 17-0.

A few minutes later, Grohe's interception set up Garlisch's 23-yard TD burst -- the Saints' third straight touchdown off a turnover -- to make it 24-0 at the half.

"I think our defense set the tone with turnovers," said Farquhar. "We may not be the biggest but we're quick, we're aggressive, and we've really been able to play to our strength."

Sophomore tailback Justin Jett (14 carries, 82 yards) added a 26-yard TD run late in the third quarter to cap the scoring.

Isbell's second interception of the night with 4:16 left helped preserve the shutout for the Saints, who will face crosstown rival St. Charles North (3-0, 1-0) next Friday.

Meanwhile, Geneva is 1-2 for the first time since 2013.

"We didn't learn enough from the Kaneland loss (26-23)," said Vikings coach Rob Wicinski. "Maybe this will wake us up a little bit.

"More power to them (Saints) -- they forced a lot of those turnovers. I don't know how they're flying under the radar to be honest with you. That's a big win for them."

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