Beaver Falls, PA - With two of the top local programs squaring off in the 2006 season opener, it figured to go right down to the wire. Geneva College, a 2005 NAIA play-off team, and Thiel, the 2005 PAC champions, took it down to the final minutes before Thiel came away with a hard fought 7-0 victory.
Thiel got the only points of the night when Steve Minton tumbled into the end zone from 1 yard out with just 57 seconds remaining before halftime. Neither team could generate any more points, but it was Geneva that threatened to tie the game in the final moments.
The Golden Tornadoes went on an 18 play, 76 yard drive in the final minutes that ended at the Thiel four-yard line. Justin Sciarro, who completed 17-34 passes for 200 yards, tried to find Brian Dvorsak in the end zone with just under one minute to play on fourth down, but the pass was batted down and Thiel escaped Reeves Stadium with the victory.
Thiel′s Billy Blankenship was solid at the quarterback position for the Tomcats. Completing 18-27 passes for 170 yards and adding 44 yards on the ground, Blankenship made several big plays to continue drives throughout the evening. Minton led Thiel on the ground with 75 yards on 23 carries and the games only score.
For Geneva, Brandon Nathan carried the ball 11 times for 50 yards on the ground. Tim Sawyer caught seven passes for 52 yards and Luke Duriancik hauled in six balls for 81 yards in the loss.
Defense dominated the game for the majority of the night. For Geneva, Brian Hall had 12 tackles in his return from a season ending ankle injury in 2005. Greg Eberhart added eight tackles and Bradley Roman chipped in with six tackles and an interception. Derek McElhaney also provided an interception on Thiel′s first possession of the game.
Antonio Quarterman led the Tomcats defense with 6.5 tackles, while Steve Boyle came up with Thiel′s only interception of the night.
Geneva will be right back at Reeves Stadium next Saturday afternoon when it hosts Olivet Nazarene at 1:30 pm.