Greenville, IL – Geneva College had already set an NCCAA Victory Bowl record before the ball was kicked off on Saturday. The Golden Tornadoes became the first team to play in their sixth NCCAA title game since its inception in 1997. The Golden Tornadoes then set another record with their fifth NCCAA Victory Bowl title with a dramatic 29-28 win over Greenville College in the 2009 NCCAA title game. The Golden Tornadoes got a game winning field goal off the foot of Nick DiPietro to cap a game winning drive that started from the Geneva three yard line with just over two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. The win moved Geneva’s overall record to 8-3 while Greenville fell to 7-3 with its first home loss of the season.
Greenville struck first with an opening quarter touchdown but Geneva’s Gerard Muschette scored the first of his three touchdowns in the second quarter with a four-yard plunge to tie the game. Prior to halftime, Greenville regained the lead and took a 13-7 lead into the locker room after missing the extra point. The Panthers increased their lead to 14 points with a touchdown and two-point conversion early in the third quarter, but the Golden Tornadoes rallied right back and capped a drive with a two yard Muschette touchdown to cut the lead to seven points.
The Panthers regained a two-score lead with a 33-yard pass and catch late in the third quarter to seemingly take control of the game. Once again, however, the Golden Tornadoes’ offense came right back and used a long reception to Corey O’Patchen to set up a four-yard touchdown run from Muschette before a missed extra point that kept the deficit at eight points. Each team scored a pair of touchdowns in the third quarter and headed to the final stanza with an eight point difference.
Both defenses took control of the game for the first half of the final quarter before a Greenville botched punt put the Golden Tornadoes in excellent field position at the Greenville 34 yard line with just over seven minutes to play in the quarter. The Golden Tornadoes took advantage with a nine-yard Matt Barge touchdown to cut the lead to two before a two-point conversion was unsuccessful and left the score 28-26 Greenville with less than five minutes left in the quarter. The Panthers were able to grind out two first downs before pinning Geneva at its own three yard line with just over two minutes to play in the fourth quarter. Girardi saved Geneva on a fourth and ten play from the 13 yard line for a first down completion that sparked the late drive. After getting inside the ten of Greenville, the Golden Tornadoes offense bogged down and relied on the foot of Nick DiPietro from 25 yards out for the game winner with only 19 seconds on the clock.
“We have coached #1 ranked teams during our tenure at Geneva, but have never felt as gratified as we do right now,” said head coach Geno DeMarco. “These kids are absolutely champions and I could not be more proud of a group of guys. To come out here in a tough environment and come back the way they did speaks volumes to what kind of kids we have. This is a very big deal and it is simply a national championship for our program.”
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).