New Wilmington, PA – Five penalties on the game winning drive against Geneva helped Westminster upend the Golden Tornadoes in the final moments in the 112th edition of a rivalry that dates back to 1891. Shawn Lehocky’s one yard run with 11 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter proved to be the difference in a 31-28 victory for the Titans that will force Geneva to travel to Greenville College next Saturday for the NCCAA Victory Bowl. Three times during that final drive Geneva was whistled for pass interference penalties that enabled the drive to continue and ultimately prove to be the difference in one of the most memorable finishes in the series’ history.
Geneva fell to 7-3 on the season while Westminster closed out its 2009 campaign with a record of 4-6. Geneva will get the chance to extend its season next week in its sixth appearance in the NCCAA Victory Bowl, but because of its loss to Westminster coupled with a 28-21 Greenville victory over LaGrange, the Tornadoes will travel to Illinois next week for the 2009 NCCAA Victory Bowl.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Golden Tornadoes got on the board first when Matt Dean plunged into the end zone from one yard out for his 13th touchdown of the season. The Titans quickly responded with a six play, 62 yard drive of their own that was capped off by an 18 yard touchdown run from Nick McKolosky. With only 20 seconds remaining before halftime, Westminster scored again on a Chad Rosatelli six yard reception from Kevin Franz. Geneva took advantage of excellent field position following the ensuing kickoff and cashed in on a Nick DiPietro 36 yard field as the first half clock expired.
Geneva regained the lead with less than five minutes remaining in the third quarter when Sam Thurston hauled in a David Girardi pass and scored from 19 yards out. DiPietro’s extra point was no good and left Geneva with a 16-14 lead. Trevor Young gave Westminster the lead back with a 21 yard field goal just two minutes into the second fourth quarter as the Titans enjoyed a short-lived 17-16 lead. Gerard Muschette gave the Geneva back on a two yard run that capped a nine-play, 77 yard drive with 8:20 left on the fourth quarter clock. After Westminster once again regained the lead, Geneva looked as though it had salted the game away when Thurston scored his second touchdown of the game from seven yards out with only 1:54 left in regulation. Geneva missed its second consecutive two-point conversion and held a 28-23 lead heading into the final drive of the game.
Westminster used all by the final 11 seconds on the clock to go 59 yards for the winning drive capped off by Lehocky’s one yard run.
Gerard Muschette rushed for 120 yards on 23 carries and became just the sixth running back in Geneva history to rush for 1000 yards in a season. Girardi completed 17-27 passes for 242 yards including a pair of touchdowns to freshman Sam Thurston. Thurston led Geneva’s receiving core with seven receptions for 99 yards. On defense, Matt Curry and Solomon Hejirika each had nine tackles with Adam Rose collecting five tackles and 2.5 for loss. Aaron Tommelleo came up with Geneva’s lone interception to go along with five tackles in the game.
The official word on the Victory Bowl will come on Monday, but by all indications Geneva will travel to Illinois to face Greenville College in a 1 pm EST kickoff in the 13th annual NCCAA Victory Bowl. The Golden Tornadoes will be participating in a record sixth Victory Bowl while Greenville will be making its first appearance after enjoying a 7-2 regular season record.
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).
Geneva College is the only CCCU institution with a full-time program in Rome, Italy. In Rome, students spend a semester studying the humanities, traveling throughout Italy and Europe, and engaging in volunteer activities.