While the Vikings’ defense held the Panthers to only one first down and 32 yards of total offense in the first half, Geneva’s offense mounted five touchdown drives and built a 34-0 halftime lead.
Geneva improved to 5-0 overall and 3-0 in DuKane Conference play with a 41-13 victory over the Panthers (0-5, 0-3) in Carol Stream.
“Our defense has been playing really well,” Geneva coach Boone Thorgesen said. “We have quite a bit of seniors out there. They’re a fast defense. They’re a smart defense. I think that’s huge in high school. You must be a smart defense and our coaches do a great job.
“They’ve been doing it all year. They gave us great field position in the first half and we were able to capitalize on a few of those drives.”
Led by linebackers Charle Winterhalter and Tommy Diamond, linemen Rocco DiLeonardi and Rino Bianchi and defensive backs Matt Abraham and Brady McCaffrey, the Geneva defense forced seven first-half punts and helped put the offense in business throughout the opening half.
Senior quarterback Nate Stempowski’s 9-yard touchdown pass to Finnegan Weppner capped a six-play, 52-yard drive to give the Vikings an early 7-0 lead.
After the Panthers’ third straight three-and-out series, Geneva marched 62 yards in four plays, highlighted by Michael Rumoro’s 21-yard touchdown run to make it 13-0.
From there, Stempowski and junior wide receiver Talyn Taylor took over.
Stempowski connected with Taylor on touchdown passes covering 28 and 3 yards before adding a 6-yard touchdown run on a keeper with 6.1 seconds remaining in the first half.
“We really didn’t know what we were doing,” Stempowski said of the last-second TD run. “I just made something happen.”
Stempowski completed 11 of 17 passes for 169 yards and three touchdowns while adding 27 yards rushing on only two carries in his one half of play.
“The first series was a little rough [three straight incompletions], but after that it was like the beginning of a roller coaster – kept going up and it felt good after that,” Stempowski said. “It’s amazing when you have a defense that gives you the ball in amazing position and your O-line is doing the job, along with the wide receivers and Mikey [Loberg], too, at tight end. I can always count on him.”
Backup quarterback Anthony Chahino threw a 70-yard TD pass to Bryce Breon on the first play of the second half.
“It’s very nice to have him,” Thorgesen said of Taylor. “He’s a returner who is as dangerous as any kid in the state of Illinois.”
“He’s my guy,” Stempowski said of Taylor. “He can do it all. I know that wherever he’s at, I can trust him.”
The Panthers got second-half touchdown runs from Lucas Kramer and Treshon Williams against the Vikings’ reserves.
Geneva plays host to rival Batavia (4-1, 3-0) Friday night.
“We’re going to enjoy [the win over Glenbard North], but we do know that it’s going to be a great crowd [against Batavia],” Thorgesen said. “We’re going to play a tremendous football team in Batavia – as they always are. We hope we have a great week of practice so we’ll be ready on Friday.”