Waynesburg, PA – In a game that featured 88 points and a total of 681 yards, it almost sounds absurd to credit the defense with preserving a victory. But that was indeed the case on Saturday as Geneva College improved to 5-1 with a 49-39 victory over Waynesburg University. The Yellowjackets fell to 3-3 on the season after allowing 49 points for the second week in a row.
Geneva’s defense provided a touchdown of its own and came up with four critical interceptions to sidetrack the most prolific offense in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference. Averaging nearly 500 yards of offense per game, Waynesburg was held to just 312 yards while the defense continued its trend of winning the turnover battle by coming up with five takeaways including one that led directly to a touchdown. “We didn’t really want this kind of game,” said head coach Geno DeMarco. “We tried to grind out some offense and keep them off the field and we did it for the most part, but they kept coming back.”
The first 30 minutes featured six lead changes, but it was Geneva that opened the scoring on the first of three touchdowns from Gerard Muschette. Coming off a three touchdown performance last week, Muschette pulled off another hat trick on Saturday including the opening score of the day on a 19 yard reception from David Girardi. Girardo threw for three touchdowns in the victory on 16-26 passing for 158 yards.
The momentum continued to swing back and forth throughout the first half, but it was Geneva who ran to the locker room with a bit more swagger after a Brian Wilson touchdown reception with only three seconds remaining in the second half. It appeared Waynesburg would get the added energy after a go-ahead touchdown with only 21 seconds remaining before halftime, but it took Geneva only 18 seconds to respond on a drive that was capped off by a 12 yard touchdown pass from Girardi to Wilson to give the Golden Tornadoes a 27-21 lead heading into halftime.
Geneva then got more momentum in the third quarter as it appeared to be close to putting the Yellowjackets away after opening up an 18-point lead at 42-24 with third quarter touchdowns from Matt Dean and Wilson. Waynesburg, however, had other ideas and it was not going to go away quietly. The issue got very interesting after a touchdown and two-point conversion midway through the fourth quarter cut Geneva’s lead to 42-39, but the offense once again put together a signature drive that was capped by Muschette’s third touchdown of the game from 28 yards out. “We were finally able to put them away because our kids never quit,” said DeMarco. “This is a solid road victory for our program and it’s a good feeling to get back on the bus with a victory.”
Rich Kolesar fittingly picked up his team leading fourth interception of the season that followed a pair of bone crunching hits that may have shifted the game into Geneva’s favor. Twice separating Waynesburg receivers from the football, Kolesar finally got his hands on one himself to keep the Yellowjackets from crawling closer in the second half. Dom Henderson, Adam Rose and Jake Delmonico also came away with interceptions. Perhaps the biggest defensive play came midway through the third quarter when an Aaron Tommelleo sack resulted in a fumble and subsequent 16 yard touchdown return from Brian Wilson. Wilson scored touchdowns on both sides of the ball for what may be the first time in school history.
Coming off a career high 219 yards on the ground against Grove City, Muschette followed that up with a 139 yard effort on 22 carries. Matt Barge collected 77 yards on 12 carries and Matt Dean scored his seventh rushing touchdown of the season. Freshman receiver Sam Thurston is quickly becoming Girardi’s favorite receiver. He scored his first collegiate touchdown and caught five passes for 75 yards.
In addition to the five takeaways, the Geneva defense was led by Gary Walstrom’s eight tackles including 3.5 tackles for loss. Aaron Tommelleo added seven tackles, one forced fumble and a sack for the Geneva defense.
The Golden Tornadoes will look to clinch a winning season next week in a rematch with Saint Vincent College at 7 pm. Geneva will look to sweep the season series from the Bearcats after a 32-17 victory in week two.
Geneva College is a comprehensive Christian college of the arts, sciences and professional studies. Founded in the tradition of the Reformed Christian faith, Geneva prepares students to serve Christ in all areas of society: work, family and the church. Geneva College’s philosophy of education is based on the Foundational Concepts of Christian Higher Education. Geneva is a founding member of the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities (CCCU).
U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges ranked Geneva’s ABET-accredited engineering program in the nation’s top 100 Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs.