GENEVA – Trailing Joliet Catholic Academy 34-7 with 10:23 left in the nonconference season opener for both schools, a buzz still could be felt among the blue-clad Geneva football fans at Burgess Field.
Maybe the Vikings backers had a good feeling about what senior quarterback Bobby Murray and the Geneva offense would do in the last 10 minutes of the game.
What Murray did was complete nine of his final 10 passes, three for touchdowns, to pull the Vikings to within 34-27 with 17 ticks left on the Burgess Field scoreboard. The Vikings’ third consecutive onside kick – they recovered the previous two – deflected off a JCA lineman, but unlike the previous two onside kicks, this one was recovered by the Hilltoppers.
Final score: JCA 34, Geneva 27.
For Murray, who ended up completing 27-of-42 passes for 260 yards and three touchdowns, the defeat was hard to take but certainly had a positive side.
“We battled and battled right to the very end. We never quit,” Murray said. “This was a tough loss, but we certainly finished strong.”
Murray also led the Vikings rushing attack with 76 yards on 17 carries.
With 6:55 left in the game, Murray hit Garret Sneed (four catches, 36 yards) from eight yards out to pull the Vikings to within 34-14. The Vikings then recovered the onside kick.
With 1:33 left, a 14-yard scoring strike from Murray to Max McCloughan brought Geneva to within 34-21. Onside kick No. 2 was recovered by the Vikings.
With 17 seconds left, Murray hit a streaking Brendan Krohe (four catches 69 yards) for a 22-yard scoring strike. Reilly Waldoch’s PAT failed and so did onside kick No. 3, and the Vikings fell 34-27.
Krohe also scored the Vikings’ first touchdown, from one yard out, in the second quarter.
Waldoch carried six times for 24 yards, made three PATs and hauled in five of Murray’s passes for 42 yards. Ian Hanson led the Vikings receivers with seven catches for 85 yards. Jake Temple chipped in with three catches for 34 yards.
“I had a good game today at quarterback, but I never could have accomplished it without my teammates,” Murray said. “My offensive line protected me and my receivers all made fine catches.”
Joliet Catholic senior back Ke’von Johnson might be on Wanted Posters all over Geneva for what he did to the Vikings defense. Johnson rushed for 243 yards on 17 carries and scored three touchdowns. For good measure, Johnson caught two passes from Hilltoppers quarterback Aidan Tyrell, including a 10-yard scoring strike in the second quarter.
Geneva will host Kaneland at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 1 at Burgess Field in the second of six home games this season. Though still hunting for their first win, the Vikings were encouraged by their comeback effort against JCA.
“We had the JCA defense completely gassed,” Geneva coach Rob Wicinski said. “We just missed picking up that third onside kick. If we had, we had the play drawn up that would have got us back in the game.
“Bobby [Murray] is a real double-threat quarterback for us. He runs so well, which really improves his passing game. I am really proud of the effort in the fourth quarter. We just couldn’t get anything done offensively in the first three quarters.”