WASHINGTON, Pa. – This was not the script most expected. Most outside the Geneva College football program expected the Golden Tornadoes to make the trip down to #8-ranked, and undefeated, Washington & Jefferson on Saturday and come back to Beaver Falls with a huge loss. However, Geneva hung with the high-powered Presidents all game, finally succumbing on a W&J touchdown pass with 30 seconds remaining, 50-43. W&J improved to 7-0, 6-0 in the Presidents' Athletic Conference (PAC), while Geneva fell to 2-4, 2-3 in the PAC.
After W&J got on the board first with a touchdown in the first quarter, Geneva responded with a drive of its own, capped off by a 33-yard touchdown pass from junior Luke Lloyd (Claysville, Pa./Avella) to senior Harrison Kozlow (Fredericksburg, Va./Chancellor), to tie the score at 7-7. From there each offense went back and forth, answering each other after every score.
W&J scored on its next drive, but Geneva again responded, this time from senior Trewon Marshall (Leetsdale, Pa./Quaker Valley) on a 16-yard touchdown run, taking a 14-13 lead. A series of big plays ensued from there. W&J scored on a 74-yard touchdown pass. On the following kickoff, sophomore Frankie Centofanti (New Middleton, Ohio/Springfield Local) returned it 93 yards to the W&J three-yard line, setting up another Marshall touchdown run. W&J then returned the Geneva kickoff inside the Golden Tornadoes' 20-yard line, and the Presidents' took advantage with another touchdown to retake the lead, 26-21. However, Lloyd and Kozlow connected again on Geneva's last drive of the half on a 49-yard touchdown pass, and Geneva took a 28-26 lead into the locker room.
Geneva failed to score on its first two possessions of the second half, and W&J took advantage with a field goal and a short rushing touchdown to go up 36-28. Geneva once again responded, though, as the Golden Tornadoes went on a 15 play, 74 yard touchdown drive capped off by a 2-yard Marshall run, and when Lloyd ran it in for the two-point conversion, Geneva tied the game at 36-36 early in the fourth quarter.
The Geneva defense stepped up at that point and stopped two W&J drives, one on a fourth down stop inside the Geneva ten-yard line, and the other a fantastic diving interception from senior Zach Hall (Irwin, Pa./Norwin). However, Geneva couldn't convert offensively, and W&J got back on the board with another touchdown with four minutes remaining.
On the first play of Geneva's next drive, Head Coach Geno DeMarco went to the bag of tricks and called a halfback pass, and it worked to perfection. Lloyd pitched the ball to Marshall while Kozlow went sprinting up the field, and no one from W&J followed him. Marshall stopped and lofted the ball deep, and Kozlow caught it and outran the defense to tie the score at 43-43.
Unfortunately, there was still over three minutes remaining, more than enough time for the high-powered offense of W&J to take the ball down the field, punching in the game-winning touchdown with 30 seconds remaining, enabling to the Presidents to hold on to their perfect record.
"I am extremely proud of our kids, who showed great heart today," DeMarco said after the game. "To come into a place that's very difficult to play, on W&J's homecoming, and face a top ten team, we gave them all they could handle. This whole thing is a process. We came to win today, we believed we could win, and we are disappointed we came up short. But a performance like this tells us that we are headed in the right direction."
The offense was led by Marshall, Kozlow and Lloyd. Marshall finished with 143 yards rushing and three touchdowns, as well as the 74-yard touchdown pass. Kozlow finished with seven receptions for 183 yards and three touchdowns, while Lloyd was 7-of-9 passing for 144 yards and two touchdowns. Defensively, sophomore Jacob Mclaughlin (Lithia, Fl./Seffner Christian) finished with a career-high 14 tackles, while junior Tyler Cann (Lehighton, Pa./Lehighton) had a career-high 13 tackles.
Things do not get any easier next week, as Geneva hosts nationally ranked Case Western Reserve at 7:00 p.m. on Reeves Field.