Geneva defense triggers latest win

  • Geneva's Carter Powelson (5) runs the ball during a home game against Kaneland on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021.

    Geneva's Carter Powelson (5) runs the ball during a home game against Kaneland on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021. Sandy Bressner/sbressner@shawmedia.com

  • Kaneland's Sam Gagne makes a catch for a touchdown during a game at Geneva on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021.

    Kaneland's Sam Gagne makes a catch for a touchdown during a game at Geneva on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021. Sandy Bressner/sbressner@shawmedia.com

  • Kaneland players celebrate Sam Gagne's (3) touchdown during a game at Geneva on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021.

    Kaneland players celebrate Sam Gagne's (3) touchdown during a game at Geneva on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021. Sandy Bressner/sbressner@shawmedia.com

  • Geneva fans cheer on the Vikings during a home game against Kaneland on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021.

    Geneva fans cheer on the Vikings during a home game against Kaneland on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021. Sandy Bressner/sbressner@shawmedia.com

  • Geneva's Jackson Reyes carries the ball during a home game against Kaneland on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021.

    Geneva's Jackson Reyes carries the ball during a home game against Kaneland on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021. Sandy Bressner/sbressner@shawmedia.com

  • Kaneland quarterback Troyer Carlson (10) is sacked by Geneva's Blake Stempkowsk during a game at Geneva on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021.

    Kaneland quarterback Troyer Carlson (10) is sacked by Geneva's Blake Stempkowsk during a game at Geneva on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021. Sandy Bressner/sbressner@shawmedia.com

  • Geneva's Carter Powelson carries the ball during a home game against Kaneland on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021.

    Geneva's Carter Powelson carries the ball during a home game against Kaneland on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021. Sandy Bressner/sbressner@shawmedia.com

  • Kaneland's Aric Johnson gains yardage after a kickoff return during a game at Geneva on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021.

    Kaneland's Aric Johnson gains yardage after a kickoff return during a game at Geneva on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021. Sandy Bressner/sbressner@shawmedia.com

  • Geneva quarterback Alex Porter hands the ball off to Carter Powelson during a home game against Kaneland on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021.

    Geneva quarterback Alex Porter hands the ball off to Carter Powelson during a home game against Kaneland on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021. Sandy Bressner/sbressner@shawmedia.com

  • Kaneland's Corey Phillips carries the ball during a game at Geneva on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021.

    Kaneland's Corey Phillips carries the ball during a game at Geneva on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021. Sandy Bressner/sbressner@shawmedia.com

  • Kaneland quarterback Troyer Carlson looks to throw the ball during a game at Geneva on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021.

    Kaneland quarterback Troyer Carlson looks to throw the ball during a game at Geneva on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021. Sandy Bressner/sbressner@shawmedia.com

  • Kaneland's Sam Gagne carries the ball during a game at Geneva on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021.

    Kaneland's Sam Gagne carries the ball during a game at Geneva on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021. Sandy Bressner/sbressner@shawmedia.com

  • Geneva's Jackson Reyes (6) scores a touchdown for the Vikings during a home game against Kaneland on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021.

    Geneva's Jackson Reyes (6) scores a touchdown for the Vikings during a home game against Kaneland on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021. Sandy Bressner/sbressner@shawmedia.com

  • Geneva's JT Frieders kicks a 40-yard field goal during a home game against Kaneland on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021.

    Geneva's JT Frieders kicks a 40-yard field goal during a home game against Kaneland on Friday, Sept. 3, 2021. Sandy Bressner/sbressner@shawmedia.com

 
By Kevin McGavin
Daily Herald Correspondent
Updated 9/3/2021 11:24 PM

Blake Stempkowski and Mason Pawelko were the defensive equivalents of Geneva offensive standouts Carter Powelson and Jackson Reyes.

In a game much tighter than its double-digit final indicated, Stempkowski and Pawelko had back-to-back difference-making plays late in the second quarter for the Vikings.

 

When Powelson -- with the Kaneland defense bunched in the box -- exploded for a 30-yard run to glory to cement the Vikings' 31-20 victory over Kaneland in Geneva Friday night in nonconference football action, the Vikings' second come-from-behind win in as many weeks found its genesis as halftime beckoned.

Kaneland (1-1) seemingly had all the momentum after its quarterback Troyer Carlson found Sam Gagne perfectly in stride on a 54-yard bomb to give the Knights a 14-10 lead.

The Knights were soon back in business, driving to the Vikings' 14-yard line.

To further complicate the Vikings' precarious state, Kaneland was slated to receive the second-half kickoff.

But first Stempkowski dropped Carlson for the first of his two sacks, and Pawelko enabled Geneva to run out the first half following his interception inside the 5-yard line on the next play.

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"It was enormous," said Geneva coach Boone Thorgesen, who once directed Kaneland to back-to-back Class 5A state semifinal dates as the Knights' quarterback in 2005 and 2006. "Football is a funny game; it takes one play (to change momentum). We had one of our better players, Mason Pawelko, make a big play."

"I don't want to say it was a dagger, but it definitely deflated us," Kaneland coach Pat Ryan of the Knights' subsequent offensive woes.

Powelson powered the Vikings (2-0) for a second straight week as the converted defensive end finished with 189 yards and a pair of scores.

The senior's first score, a 15-yard screen pass, gave Geneva the lead for good, and Stempkowski ensured the Knights went three-and-done on consecutive possessions with third-down tackles for losses.

"The coaches kept calling good blitzes," said Stempkowski, a linebacker. "My defensive backs were doing great. They gave me time to get to the backfield and sack the quarterback."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Reyes' second touchdown -- after opening the scoring with a first-quarter keeper out of the wildcat -- came on a short wide-receiver pass from Pawelko.

But the Vikings' first double-digit lead was sliced to 24-20 when Carlson struck quickly, capping an 88-yard drive with an 11-yard scoring strike to Dom DeBlasio with three minutes, 23 seconds to play.

Geneva, however, had no issues with the ensuing onside kick; Powelson struck pay dirt moments later.

The gorgeous Gagne connection came after Corey Phillips' 6-yard rushing score put Kaneland on the board in the first quarter.

"It was single coverage," Gagne said. "I was the primary receiver. The play was directed toward me. It worked out."

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