Geneva rallies from 16 down to stun St. Charles North
The bear hug and smile Carter Powelson received from Geneva coach Boone Thorgesen as rain doused down was the final check mark on the unlikeliest of comebacks.
Down 23-7 entering the fourth quarter -- and trailing by 16 just seven minutes into the first quarter -- it was the ultimate heroics of Powelson and the Geneva defense that put the exclamation point on Geneva's emotional 29-26 overtime victory at St. Charles North Friday in the DuKane Conference.
"I'm almost speechless and it doesn't happen all that often in this game, because you see a lot of things on a week in, week out basis," Thorgesen said as the jubilant Vikings celebrated just yards away. "But, you know what? Our kids, every week, they seem to amaze me and they amaze our coaching staff."
With the win, Geneva (4-1, 2-1) continued its best start to the season since 2015, a season where the Vikings won their first seven games. The North Stars (2-3, 0-3), meanwhile suffered their third consecutive loss in difficult fashion.
The chaotic finish began when Geneva quarterback Alex Porter (11-of-24, 88 yards, two touchdowns) connected with Tyler Costello for a 10-yard score, later cashing in on the two-point conversion from Mason Pawelko, to cut the North Stars' lead to 23-15 with 6:51 left.
North Stars running back Brody Geary fumbled on the ensuing possession, which was recovered by Geneva's Blake Stempowski. Porter then engineered a difficult drive that was capped off by Powelson's 4th-and-goal touchdown to trail 23-21 with 39 seconds left. Charles Morrison converted the two-point conversion on an end around to force overtime.
"We don't give up," Pawelko said. "All offseason ... it's a different mentality this year. We're not the same team that we used to be these past six years. We're coming different this year ... all the captains, we all gathered [at the half] and told the team to not give up and believe every snap. We've just got to make it a close game ... don't give up."
North Stars kicker Hunter Liszka hit a 27-yard field goal to give North a 26-23 overtime lead, but Powelson motored in for a 7-yard score to finish off the unlikely, thrilling comeback.
"We just kept on believing," Powelson said following his 97-yard masterpiece. "We knew that the first half wasn't how we are, doesn't represent the team that we are. The second half, we just balled out and we got it done."
"Great game by Geneva," St. Charles North coach Rob Pomazak said. "Fun to see them fight. I, as the head coach, need to be better for my program and get us to and through the finish line. Bottom line, I need to be the person who leads us to victory. Our kids fought hard and gave a great effort. I feel for them and will try to be better for them the remainder of the season."
Geneva fumbled the opening kickoff to begin the game, which was recovered by St. Charles North's Anthony Priami. Johnny Vindl promptly ran in for the 10-yard score.
The ensuing Geneva possession, a punt sailed and landed in the back of the end zone for a safety for the stunning start and 9-0 North Stars lead just roughly three minutes into the first quarter. The following North Stars possession, quarterback Ethan Plumb (38 rush yards, touchdown) ran in for a 10-yard score for the 16-0 North Stars advantage.
Porter later found Costello for a 11-yard touchdown pass with 7:39 left in the second quarter to cut the deficit to 16-7, but Geary answered with a 4-yard score following a 78-yard kick return by Carson Kuligowski for the 23-7 North Stars lead, which remained that way into the fourth quarter.
"I don't think there's a game we could've started worse," Thorgesen said. "We just kept fighting and we kept going, [believing] good things will happen."