Batavia wins 12th straight over Geneva behind Gerke's big plays
Drew Gerke had to maintain a short-term memory.
Despite some early key drops on third down in the first quarter, Gerke, Batavia's two-way star, still produced monumental plays to spark Batavia's 33-7 win over Geneva on Friday In Batavia.
Entering Friday's 104th meeting between the two programs, Geneva had not scored a point in five consecutive contests against the Bulldogs. The Vikings had not beaten the Batavia since 2010.
Batavia's 12-game winning streak in the Dennis Piron era against the Vikings is maintained with the win. The Bulldogs (5-2, 4-1) also became postseason eligible with the win, but it didn't come without some grit to get there.
After a scoreless first quarter, Batavia broke the stalemate with a 15-yard Ryan Boe completion to Gerke with 6:12 left in the half. Geneva (5-2, 3-2) punted twice on its ensuing drives.
With two seconds before the half, Boe again found Gerke for a 50-yard touchdown on a post route for a touchdown for the stunning, momentum-shifting 14-0 halftime lead.
"Honestly, [it] was a little easy post route and I got right past my guy," Gerke said. "It was honestly too easy."
Geneva opened the third quarter with a 16-play drive -- aided by two Batavia defensive pass interferences -- that was capped on Nate Stempowski's 5-yard touchdown run to make it 14-7 Batavia with 5:54 left.
Gerke -- who finished with four catches, 104 reception yards, two touchdown receptions -- wasn't done.
The ensuing kickoff, Gerke broke free for a huge 92-yard kick return for a score to swing the pendulum back in Batavia's favor.
"I thought our kids came out ready to play," Geneva coach Boone Thorgesen said. "They played hard in the start ... those big plays really hurt us against good football teams, it's hard to let up those plays and have the momentum and give the momentum up. That's kind of what we did. We gave up the momentum in both those instances. It's tough when that happens, but my kids played hard.
"Our goal now is to play our best football at the end of the year and we've got two games to do that," Thorgesen continued.
Gerke, who dealt with a broken finger early in the season, has also shifted to heavy cornerback snaps to help on defense while maintaining his role at wideout.
"You just got to put all the negative and bad stuff in the past," Gerke said. "And, obviously, that's what I had to do. Just had to capitalize on what was happening."
"We knew we needed to make a big play [on the kickoff]," Gerke continued. "That was just what was going though my mind the entire time. Make a big play, even just get us good field position on it. Sure enough, [I] broke free and I scored."
After Geneva punted, Boe cashed in on an 8-yard score, but the extra point was missed to make it 27-7 Batavia. Stempowski was promptly intercepted and Charlie Whelpley soon ran it from 4 yards out. The two-point conversion was missed, but the score remained 33-7 for the final.
Piron thinks Gerke is "the best player" in the DuKane Conference.
"He's dynamic. His speed is unmatched," Piron said.
Boe finished 10 for 17 for 151 yards, two passing touchdowns and a rushing score. Whitwell had 60 rushing yards.
For the Vikings, Stempowski finished 18 for 31 for 177 passing yards with an interception and a rushing score. The Geneva rushing attack was stifled for a collective 37 yards between Troy Velez, Talyn Taylor and Stempowski.
"But, really, I think overall we wanted to be aggressive," Piron said. "That was huge. [Geneva] ate up the ball [to start the third quarter] did a great drive, but it was [partially due to] penalties. That was a little frustrating because we were playing good defense in the drive and the score was huge for them. I mean, they haven't scored in five years. That was their first score in six games.
"Our kids, they're mad that they scored," Piron continued. "That was the goal: shut them out. That being said, [Geneva is a] quality football team, quality players with good wins."