Geneva starts hot at Lemont, improves to 2-0

For Geneva, Friday night meant business as usual.

The Vikings beat Lemont 21-10 to improve to 2-0 this season.

For Lemont, it was business as unusual. Lemont hasn't dropped two straight to start the season since 2018, and including the semifinal loss to East St. Louis at the end of last season, the losing streak is at three.

Third-down conversions were the key to the Vikings' victory - eight conversions on 13 attempts, and a 7-of-8 success rate on their three touchdown drives.

"We do a session or two every week," Geneva coach Boone Thorgesen said. "But we tell the kids that players make plays."

They did, especially quarterback Nate Stempowski, a senior listed at only 5-foot-10, but who stood taller in the clutch.

"Third downs, we do a ton of reps, and it keeps getting better and better," Stempowski said. "We start at third-and-9 and go down from there."

The Vikings scored on third-and-goal from the 1 to start off, Michael Rumoro getting the carry. He got it again from the 5 for the touchdown on their second series, one highlighted by Stempowski's 17-yard jaunt around right end on third-and-14.

Practice paid off.

"As a defense, you've got to get off the field on third down, right?" Lemont coach Willie Hayes said. "Their quarterback did an outstanding job of using his legs and keeping the play alive. He can move."

Lemont's offense lit up in the second half when Chris Montell replaced the harried Nate Kunickis at quarterback. Montell completed his first four passes, the key to a 13-yard drive capped by his 7-yard touchdown pass to Zac Piskule.

Lemont's Michael Patino added a 27-yard field goal with 8:41 left, but the hosts could get no closer.

"It was kind of back and forth there," Thorgesen said.

Geneva closed the scoring on Talyn Taylor's 7-yard touchdown run, a play after yet another long completion on third down, this one a 13-yard collaboration between Stempowski and Finnegan Weppner.

The Vikings had started as if they owned the place, scoring on drives of 67 and 77 yards, in each case Rumoro getting the touchdown.

Lemont couldn't get untracked until its last series of the first half, with Dan Taylor ripping off ground gains of 29 and 12 yards, but that series, as did the previous four, bogged down.

Geneva held a 203-82 yardage advantage in the first half.

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