GENEVA, Ill. -- Undefeated neighbors Batavia and Geneva met in a furious football matchup Friday that made the old Hatfield and McCoy rivalry seem tame by comparison.
The score only told half the tale as Batavia handed host Geneva its first loss 46-34.
Geneva got on the scoreboard early taking a 7-0 lead. Vikings' Ben Rogers returned Batavia's first punt 65 yards to put them at Batavia's 4-yard line. Quarterback Matt Williams slipped in two plays later for a touchdown on a 1-yard sneak.
Tides turned in the second quarter when Batavia struck back on an Alec Lyons touchdown run, heeling in, 7-6 after missing the extra point. Later, Williams returned the favor, with a short TD pass to Rogers, making it 14-6 for Geneva.
But Geneva's risky behavior on offense eventually cost it. After Batavia scored a field goal to make it 14-9, Williams fumbled a snap at Geneva's 23-yard line. The Bulldogs' defensive lineman, Austin Lewis, recovered the Vikings' fumble in the endzone, putting at 17-14 to Batavia before halftime.
Geneva returned to the second half on a roll, with running back Parker Woodworth's touchdown, regaining the lead at 20-17. Woodworth carried the ball 12 times and caught one pass for a total of 93 yards.
Still, the Bulldogs lived up to their name. After regaining the lead, Batavia QB Noel Gaspari stuck to the running game, driving the score to 24-20 on Dom Guzaldo's first touchdown rush.
Throughout the game Batavia's defense pressed Williams and the Vikings' offensive line hard. With 3 minutes left in the 3rd quarter, Batavia's D held Geneva at its own 23-yard line for three consecutive plays then capitalized on Geneva's risky 4th-and-10 conversion attempt. The Bulldogs linemen chased Williams on 4th down, sacking him for a 19 yard loss at the 4 yard line.
"That's a pretty tough offense, and the game got a little bit crazy at times." said Batavia coach Dennis Piron.
"But we were able to match their scores which is something special this year."
Batavia made it 32 -20 with another Guzaldo touchdown followed by a two-point conversion by receiver Zach Strittmatter, who also had 90 yards on 5 catches before the two-pointer.
Keeping things exciting, Bobby Hess returned Batavia's next kickoff for 94 yards and a touchdown to make it 32-27. But the Bulldogs came right back on an 88 yard scoring drive to pad their lead, 39-27 with Guzaldo's third touchdown at the start of the 4th.
Geneva rallied to make it 39-34 with another Williams sneak with 4:33 left and a touchdown after the Vikings' 16-play, 88-yard drive.
Then after a string penalties committed by both sides, Batavia scored again on an Alec Lyons rush to make it 46-34.
Geneva's errors then sealed its fate with a minute and a half left, fumbling the kickoff at the 4 yard line, to let Batavia close it out.
Speaking about his defense, Piron said, "Our defense did a pretty good job. Maybe we're too aggressive at times. Yet you can't take that out of us, that's how we play."
Player of the game: Batavia's Dom Guzaldo had a breakout night with 93 yards and three touchdowns.
It was over when: Geneva, down 46-34 fumbled Batavia's kickoff with 1:37 in the game.
Quote of the night: Dom Guzaldo: "We're not going to lose any of our fire. We're still going to come out every game as strong as we did [tonight]."