ROCHESTER — The first time the Geneva and Wayne football teams met they combined for 86 points in a 47-39 win for the Panthers.
The defenses made a little more of an impact in Saturday’s rematch in the Section V Class B final, making the little things even more important in the Finger Lakes East atmosphere that engulfed Rochester’s Sahlen’s Stadium.
With each defense setting the tone, the third-seeded Panthers capitalized on some first half miscues by the fourth-seeded Eagles and answered when they needed to in the second half.
First half troubles on three punts by Wayne gave the Panthers superb field position that they turned into 10 points. And when needed, Geneva answered Wayne’s first score with one of their own and followed with an interception to virtually seal the program’s first sectional title since 2007, 31-7.
“I don’t think anybody expected this outside of these kids and this staff,” Geneva coach Mike Pane said. “We kind of built that up all year long, that people we’re going to kind of overlook us because of some of the talent we lost. We just worked real hard and it really epitomizes what this team is really about.”
“It’s a great accomplishment, we’ve come together real good and we really have the chemistry with each other,” Geneva quarterback Jack Wallwork remarked. “It’s not a one man game, it’s all 11 of us, every play, every game and I’m just proud of all my guys.”
Geneva running back/linebacker Kyle Cosentino was named MVP. He made an impact on both sides of the ball with 78 yards rushing and a touchdown (all in the second half) and 14 tackles and an interception for a score on the defensive side.
“I think that I lead more by example, I’m not a very loud person but when people see me playing good, they tend to pick it up and they know that we have to play hard,” Cosentino commented.
“Kyle is just a consummate football player,” Pane noted. “He’s a great young man. He deserved this today for the time he has put into the program and to perform like this on this stage, it couldn’t have happened to a better kid.”
A short punt gave the Panthers (8-1) the ball at the Eagles 43-yard line on their first possession. Three plays later freshman running back Mark Suchewski made his presence felt with a 35-yard touchdown burst to the sideline for a 7-0 lead.
Suchewski, named the Offensive Back of the game, rambled for 110 yards.
Geneva’s Malyk Daley-Pinkard ended Wayne’s second possession with a soaring interception, the first of two for the junior.
Following four runs by Suchewski that totaled 17 yards, Wayne’s Cody Matteson turned the momentum with an interception of his own. However, Dylan Doeblin’s third down sack ended the ensuing possession.
In the second quarter, Suchewski ran the ball down to the Wayne nine-yard line before the Eagles (6-4) began to push the Panthers back. Wayne’s Tom Goebel, selected as Defensive Back of the game, highlighted Geneva’s retreat with a sack that forced a loss of 13 yards and eventually a turnover on downs.
Geneva’s Connor Fillebrown’s kicked a 25-yard field goal with 29.3 seconds left in the half gave the Panthers a 10-0 lead at the break.
Wayne finally broke through in the second half thanks to a pair of important plays that kept its opening drive alive.
On third and nine, quarterback Nathan Currier (169 yards) tossed a 35-yard completion to Mike Hollenbeck (102 yards) to infuse some life into the Eagles early in the third quarter.
Wayne then converted a fourth and seven when Currier connected with Justin Morrison for a 13-yard reception.
The two key conversions set up Currier for a 27-yard touchdown completion to Cameron LaForce. The wide receiver bobbled the initial screen toss before corralling the ball and hitting the sidelines for the score.
Currier also was the Eagles leading rusher with 57 yards.
The Panthers answered right back when Wallwork rolled out left and found Joey Richardson in the middle of the end zone for a 16-yard touchdown and a 17-7 lead.
“We decided to do a roll out to the left side and I didn’t see anything there and I swung my head back around and saw Joey wide open in the end zone and just flung it to him,” Wallwork commented.
“That was huge, the momentum was definitely going in their favor,” Pane remarked. “They’re an explosive team. We went down there and Jack did a heck of a roll out and throw. It was a gutsy play and he’s done it all year long for us.”
In response, Wayne reached the Geneva 38-yard line before Dytalion Dennis picked off a fourth down throw from Currier.
The Eagles then got down to the Panthers 24-yard line but turned it over on downs to virtually end the sectional battle.
A couple of strong runs by Cosentino down the stretch set up the MVP for a 1-yard touchdown run. Cosentino then began the celebration in Geneva with a 42-yard interception return for a score.
Geneva’s Christian Shepard was chosen as the Defensive Lineman of the game, while Isaiah Parker was selected as the Offensive Lineman of the contest. Joseph Warner took home the Sportsmanship award.