Geneva College Golden Tornadoes (2-2, 0-1)
Vs. Walsh University Cavaliers (6-0, 1-0)
Saturday, October 14, 2006 @ 7:00 pm
Reeves Stadium – Beaver Falls, PA
Geneva is prepared to once again play the final chapter in what has become one of the biggest rivalries of the season. The Golden Tornadoes welcome Walsh University to Reeves Stadium for the final time as a member of the Mid-States Football Association. Geneva leads the all-time series 7-4 in their 11 previous meetings, but it was Geneva’s victory in 2005 that may have been one of the biggest in recent memory. Geneva rallied from from seven points down in the fourth quarter with a pair of touchdown passes thrown from Matt Brown, the second of which came in overtime. The victory was Geneva’s second in a row on its way to five straight to end the season and earn an NAIA play-off spot.
In 2006, the Cavaliers have emerged as one of the best teams in the NAIA. Ranked in the top ten throughout the season, the Cavaliers come into action with a perfect 6-0 record after a 35-14 victory against Taylor last Saturday. As for Geneva, the Golden Tornadoes will try to put together their first winning streak of the season. Geneva is coming off a 9-7 victory at Seton Hill University in which the defense allowed just 190 yards of total offense.
Justin Sciarro seemed to get back on track at Seton Hill last week. Sciarro was 16-22 for 180 yards and the only touchdown pass to Mike Lehman. After tossing four interceptions the week before in a loss at Malone, Sciarro managed the game beautifully and more importantly protected the football. Geneva’s running game, which is been stuck in park all season, got going a bit last week as Javon Moody led the way with 69 yards on 22 carries. Brandon Nathan and Michael Cobb each had eight carries to share the load.
Clearly the defense has been solid for Geneva since day one. Through the first four games, Geneva’s defense has allowed just five offensive touchdowns. On Saturday, Seton Hill scored one touchdown on a five-yard drive after blocking a Geneva punt.
Brian Hall continues to lead the MSFA with 13.2 tackles/per game. Gabe Gordan is also among the conference leaders with 8.5 tackles per game. Geneva did not attempt a field goal in its first three games, but senior Larry Diday finally got his chance last week and put through the game winning 27-yard attempt on the final play of the first half.
Walsh makes no secret about what it wants to do on offense. One of the most prolific running attacks in the country, the Cavaliers have rushed for 210 yards per game. Led by junior Antwain Reine’s 651 yards and five touchdowns, the Cavaliers have dominated games on the ground in 2006. Freshman Jeff Tallman has also contributed with
343 yards and five touchdowns. Through the air, sophomore Marc Pullman has thrown for just 85 yards a game, but he has connected for six touchdowns. Walsh wins by running the ball, protecting the ball and playing solid defense. The Cavaliers have allowed just 8.3 points per game in their first six games. Outscoring its opponents 180-30 this year, Walsh has won every game by no less than 11 points.
Geneva will continue its brief home stand next Saturday night when it welcomes Taylor University to Reeves Stadium. Geneva will then take to the road for back to back conference games at Ohio Dominican and Urbana before closing out the regular season at home against seven-time conference champ St. Francis, IN.
Despite last year’s victory against Walsh, Geneva has seen the Cavaliers control the series in recent years. Prior to the victory in 2005, Geneva had suffered four consecutive losses to Walsh. The series began in 1995 with a Geneva 20-0 victory and the Golden Tornadoes won the first six times the schools played before the Cavaliers finally beat Geneva 37-34 in 2001. Six times in the series, the outcome was decided by a touchdown or less, which means the 2006 contest could go right down to the wire.