SYCAMORE – Geneseo was two yards away from a touchdown in the fourth quarter, trying to make the final push when the ball was popped loose and picked up by Sycamore senior Josh Hunt.
No matter how close Geneseo (3-1) came to scoring, Hunt and the Spartans (4-0) wouldn’t allow it. Their stellar defensive performance culminated in a 19-0 victory at home.
Senior receiver Ben Niemann racked up 112 receiving yards and a touchdown, and senior running back Riley Hurley had 89 rushing yards and a score. But it was the defensive performance that truly stood out.
“I thought our kids played with much more energy tonight defensively,” Sycamore coach Joe Ryan said. “We felt like we didn’t play well defensively last week (against DeKalb), and we really put a challenge to them.”
His players responded by holding the Maple Leafs, ranked third in The Associated Press’ Class 4A poll, to 128 total yards. Geneseo running backs Rayce Singbush and Ryan Webster, dominant through the first three games of the season, combined for zero yards on the ground.
Junior running back Dion Hooker opened the scoring for Sycamore late in the first quarter with a 6-yard rush. Niemann, who had a rocky start by fumbling on the first drive, responded with a 21-yard touchdown grab in the second quarter.
The second half saw a consistent running attack from the Spartans while the defense continued to dominate. After Hooker left with an injury, Hurley took over running back duties and went in for a 3-yard score.
Other than Geneseo running back Brandon Mizlo’s 96 yards, the next highest rushing total for Geneseo was three yards.
A team that had put up more than 30 points in each of its first three games had no answer for the Spartans’ defense. Even for Sycamore, ranked No. fourth in The Associated Press’ Class 5A poll, this win was a major one.
“We beat a pretty good team tonight,” Ryan said. “No one’s come close to them, and for us to shut them out and do the things that we wanted to do, that’s a big win.”