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Spartans' defense makes late stand

GENESEO – For each of Geneseo’s touchdowns, Sycamore had an answer, and often a quick one.

Sycamore scored on two of its first three plays from scrimmage, and the defense settled in after a rough start as the Spartans continued their undefeated start to the season with a 34-31 victory over Geneseo.

“They grinded it out and we found a way to win,” Sycamore coach Joe Ryan said. “We rallied. ... We kept fighting.”

After falling behind, 7-0, Sycamore answered on its second play from scrimmage as quarterback Devin Mottet found Ben Niemann for a 72-yard touchdown. The junior receiver beat a Geneseo cornerback on a post route and raced the last 50 yards untouched.

On the first play of Sycamore’s second possession, running back Austin Culton broke a tackle, spun outside and went for a 62-yard touchdown run to even the score, 14-14.

The Spartans defense stopped Geneseo (2-2) on its final four drives of the half, yielding only two first downs, and Sycamore scored the final 13 points of the half to take a 27-14 lead into halftime.

“We hadn’t faced an offense like that before, and when we came out we weren’t probably as ready as we should’ve been,” Niemann said. “We just settled in and started making plays.”

Sycamore (4-0) caught a bad break in the third quarter when a Mottet pass attempt intended for David Compher was ruled a fumble and Geneseo returned it 55 yards for a touchdown, cutting the Spartans’ lead to 27-23.

But Sycamore’s defense made a key stop on third-and-short early in the fourth quarter, and Niemann returned the ensuing punt 70 yards for a touchdown, putting the Spartans back up by 11.

Geneseo scored a late touchdown and got the ball back with less than two minutes left, but Sycamore came up with another key stop and ran out the clock.

The Spartans host Ottawa next Friday.

“We never apologize for winning, and we always enjoy wins because it’s tough to win,” Ryan said. “It’s hard to win.”

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