Batavia started a new streak Friday night and kept another one going with a 21-7 win over rival Geneva on the new turf at Bulldog Stadium.
The win is the sixth straight for the Bulldogs over the Vikings -- every year since Dennis Piron became coach -- pulling them within 51-42-5 in the all-time series and putting Geneva on the brink of missing the playoffs.
And a week after its 34-game Upstate Eight Conference River winning streak was snapped by St. Charles East, Batavia (5-1, 3-1) was able to get going on what it hopes is another long run of sustained success.
"We didn't let it get us down," senior running back Matthew Huizinga, who scored 2 touchdowns, said of the Saints loss. "I honestly think it helped us out because if we keep going undefeated it would get our confidence up too much. The loss makes us want to fight harder and keep going. We just kept our heads up."
Geneva had its chances, four times in the red zone without a point to show for it. The Vikings' only touchdown came on Mason Branson's 18-yard interception return with 3:14 left in the game.
Batavia looked early like it would blow the game open, leading 21-0 at halftime. Geneva battled throughout the second half to stay in the game.
"They are going to play hard to the very end and they aren't going to quit," Piron said. "They are going to make a game of it. That is a rivalry, that is how it is supposed to be. I thought we had an opportunity to blow the thing open but a misfire here or there. We're struggling. We have to sort that out."
Batavia set the tone with a 70-yard drive on its opening possession, needing only five plays before Huizinga broke free for a 29-yard touchdown run down the left sideline.
Geneva (2-4, 1-3) converted one first down before punting, and the Bulldogs went on another long touchdown drive, this one 80 yards on 11 plays. Riley Cooper and Ben Weerts split time at quarterback, with Huizinga, Dana Anderson and Reggie Phillips finding holes on the ground.
Weerts capped the drive with a 2-yard score, and Cooper hit Glenn Albanese Jr. for a 2-point conversion and 14-0 lead.
Geneva punter, and quarterback, Kyle Evert pinned Batavia at its 4-yard line with a 47-yard punt. A quick stop and short punt gave Geneva the ball at Batavia's 24-yard line.
The drive quickly stalled and Bradley King missed a 38-yard field goal, the first of four chances deep in Batavia territory Geneva couldn't capitalize on.
After Huizinga's second touchdown run, set up by a 52-yard carry by Phillips, Geneva had another chance right before halftime only to see Luke Golson intercept Evert's pass in the end zone.
It was fitting for Golson to get the interception on an emotional night. The Bulldogs held a fundraiser for his brother Jay Burger, a 2010 Batavia graduate and Golson's older brother by 7 years who lost his life this summer after a courageous battle with cancer. Jay's Hope T-shirts were sold.
"I couldn't have asked for a better experience," Golson said. "This whole school, this whole week has been amazing. I think this game just shows how close of a community we are and how great of a community we are. And how great the school did all week rallying around a cause. Just very special all week for me and my family."
The Vikings had a better second half, starting when Ian Hanson recovered a fumble at Geneva's 2-yard line.
Backup quarterback Bobby Murray broke a 40-yard run, then threw a 20-yard pass to Luke Swanson before the Vikings drive stalled on a fake field goal incomplete pass at Batavia's 21.
Phillips led Batavia with 123 yards rushing, Huizinga added 85 and Weerts 70.
"We've been a little spoiled over the years," Piron said. "It isn't enough to win, you want to win in a certain way. but we will. We will get better each week. I think our defense is ascending very rapidly. I think we have to catch up on the offensive side."
Evert completed 10 of 22 passes for 129 yards for Geneva while Lance Arni rushed 21 times for 66 hard-earned yards.
The Vikings will be in must-win mode in their final three weeks with games against Elgin, St. Charles North and West Aurora.
"I was really proud of our defense," Geneva coach Rob Wicinski said. "Definitely a bright spot. We had opportunities. We have to be able to put the ball in. You don't win many games that way."