Geneva College Golden Tornadoes (4-4, 2-3)
Vs. St. Francis, IN Cougars (9-0, 5-0)
Saturday, November 11, 2006
Reeves Stadium – 1:30 pm
One of the longest running programs in the NAIA will play its final game as a member of that affiliation this weekend when it hosts the NAIA’s top ranked team. In what will be Geneva’s final game in the NAIA and in the Mid-States Football Association, the Golden Tornadoes have been challenged by the team that has become one of the most dominant in NAIA history. St. Francis, IN is riding a 50-game regular season winning streak and has already clinched its eighth consecutive MSFA Mideast League title this year. The two-time defending NAIA runners-up, the Cougars seem primed to make a run at their first ever national championship.
Geneva would love nothing more than to end an era of NAIA football by knocking off the best the NAIA has to offer. The Golden Tornadoes are coming off a dramatic come-from-behind victory over Urbana University last week. Twice erasing 14-point deficits and rallying with a late Bobby Bondi touchdown, the Golden Tornadoes managed to hold off Urbana to even their overall record at 4-4. Only twice in Geno DeMarco’s tenure have the Golden Tornadoes finished with a record below .500, which is something Geneva will once again look to avoid with a victory this afternoon.
Geneva opened up its offense in the second half against Urbana when senior quarterback Justin Sciarro threw for nearly 250 yards during the final 30 minutes. Sciarro will be without one of his key targets this afternoon as sophomore wide out Brian Dvorsak broke his collarbone late in last Saturday’s victory. Injuries, howeve, are something that Geneva is very used to in the past couple of years. Dvorsak is the sixth Geneva player to suffer a season-ending injury this year.
A look at the St. Francis offensive statistics is enough to make any defensive coordinator sick to his stomach. The Cougars are averaging over 42 points per game and almost 500 yards of offense per contest. On the groud, St. Francis is averaging over seven yards a carry and have rushed for 1900 yards in nine games in 2006. St. Francis doesn’t rebuild each year, they simply reload. If the offensive exploits aren’t enough to raise your eyebrows, how about a defense that is allowing just seven points per game?
Geneva has played St. Francis every season since the Cougars began their football program in 1998. In that first year of football, the Golden Tornadoes beat St. Francis 45-34. Since that victory and since that season, not only has Geneva not beaten the Cougars, but neither has any other Mideast League team. St. Francis has run the conference table in each of the past eight years and lead the all-time series with Geneva 7-1. However, the light at the end of the tunnel for Geneva is how it has challenged St. Francis at Reeves Stadium In four meetings at Reeves Stadium, Geneva has beaten the Cougars once and have lost the other three games by a total of just 14 points. Last year, St. Francis rolled to a 50-22 victory over Geneva in Fort Wayne, IN. In that game, St. Francis racked up 244 yards of rushing offense. It was just the second time in 19 years that a Geneva team had surrendered 50 points. The other time? You guessed it, St. Francis, IN in 1999.
Today’s game marks the end of the line for 19 Geneva seniors. This group has worked extremely hard to continue the tradition of Geneva College football, both on and off the field. Always a bittersweet day for seniors on the last day of their careers, the senior class of 2006 has been a shining example for all those who will follow in the years to come at Reeves Stadium and for those who dawn the black and gold.