MAPLE PARK – Kaneland quarterback Jack Douglas found four different receivers for touchdowns and then breathed a huge sigh of relief as he watched time run out on Geneva during a nonconference game on Sept. 2.
The Knights survived for a 26-23 victory as the former Western Sun Conference foes met for the first time since 2009.
Geneva (1-1) had beaten Kaneland (2-0) six consecutive times dating back to 2004, but the Knights were able to hold on this time, making a huge defensive stop as time expired.
Douglas had connected for a huge 36-yard touchdown pass to Jonathan Alstott with 4:21 left in the game to give the Knights a 26-16 lead.
With so little time remaining, the game appeared to be weighing heavily in Kaneland’s favor, but Garret Sneed returned the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown to pull the Vikings to within 26-23.
Geneva’s defense did its part to shut down the Knights and get the ball back but simply ran out of time.
The Vikings appeared destined to rally for the win as they had a third-and-goal from the 4-yard line with under 30 seconds remaining but were stopped just inches away from scoring the go-ahead touchdown.
With time running down, they opted to go for the win, but fumbled the snap away to end the ball game.
“To play a program like this and play a complete game like this is something,” Kaneland coach Tom Fedderly said. “We were thinking we wanted to challenge our kids. We know they’re young but we think they’re pretty good, so win, lose or draw I was thinking this was going to be a great game for these kids to get us ready for conference, which is going to be tough.”
Geneva coach Rob Wicinski admitted that if there had been more time, and if they weren’t so close to scoring, he likely would’ve sent in his placekicker, Brad King, onto the field to boot a game-tying field goal. King had drilled a 29-yarder earlier to make it a 20-16 game and had a 41-yarder last week.
“We were going to kick a field goal and go into overtime, but we were an inch away,” Wicinski said. “It’s not going to get any better than that. I can’t ask for a better scenario. We didn’t do it, they won, and they deserve that.”
Lance Arni kept the Vikings in the game, collecting 274 rushing yards and scoring twice.
Douglas spread things out for the Knights as he also slung touchdown passes to Jacob Brown, Matt Noel and Garrett Hukle.
“We knew [Jack] would be harassed because Geneva’s defense is so good,” Fedderly said. “We were worried about him being able to move and get rid of the ball, but he did and our receivers made some big plays.”
The Knights welcome Rich Central at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 9 while the Vikings start Upstate Eight River play at St. Charles East at 7:30 p.m. on Sept. 9.