GENEVA – Geneva’s inexperienced offense acquitted itself pretty well in the Vikings’ season opener Aug. 26.
New Vikings quarterback Nate Stempowski passed for 154 yards and three touchdowns and ran for two more scores.
Geneva got a big lift from its special teams, which scored the game’s first touchdown and gave the offense short fields for two more scores.
Tommy Diamond got Geneva on the board when, with Metea Valley in punt formation, he plucked an errant snap out of midair and raced in for the score.
A blocked punt by Rocco DiLeonardi and a 22-yard punt return by Talyn Taylor set up the Vikings’ next two scores, a 17-yard pass from Stempowski to Taylor and a 15-yard run by Troy Velez.
“It’s a three-tier game and our special teams came up huge,” Geneva coach Boone Thorgesen said. “When you’re a good team, you’re good in all three levels, and that’s what we strive to be. Our players, they really buy into being a special player on that special team.”
The Mustangs got back in the game with 10 straight points, but Stempowski and the Vikings answered with a nice drive just before halftime. Taking over with 87 seconds left in the half and no timeouts, they marched 67 yards in seven plays, capped by a 20-yard toss from Stempowski to Anthony Pantano.
The teams traded scores in the third quarter before Geneva put it away in the fourth, with Stempowski throwing a 41-yard scoring strike to Aldo Senese and then taking in a score himself from 13 yards out.
Stempowski finished 11-of-22 passing. His favorite targets were Taylor and Dylan Reyes with three catches apiece. Velez added 74 yards on the ground.
“Our kids played hard and that’s something we knew going in, that we had a couple of new starters here and there,” Thorgesen said. “But I thought they played hard and executed.”
Noah Larson threw for 207 yards and two touchdowns for Metea Valley. Robert Lynch grabbed 11 receptions for 106 yards and both scores, but some other Mustangs receivers were plagued by drops. In addition, Metea’s ground game was never a factor, netting just one yard in the first half and 40 overall, even disregarding a 20-yard loss on a bad snap.
Lynch had a potential touchdown called back on a holding penalty and the Mustangs had to settle for Nico Carrier’s 25-yard field goal. Hani Omar added a TD on a short run for Metea Valley.