GENOA – Any time a team concedes a few scores early, it is tough to bounce back. Genoa-Kingston saw itself in this situation against Winnebago Friday night.
“You go down a couple of scores fairly quick and it can be deflating. It is a longer uphill climb and it is a little harder,” Cogs coach Travis Frederick said. “It’s just like the season started – 0-2. And, now we are down two scores and we have to fight back and we just came up a little short.”
Winnebago jumped out to a 20-point lead midway through the first half. Genoa-Kingston (3-3) fought back in the second half, but the comeback fell short in a 34-26 loss to the unbeaten Indians (6-0) in a Big Northern crossover game.
“We rebounded well in the second half,” G-K quarterback Griffin McNeal said. “We just need to learn from our loss.”
The major concern in the game for G-K was the rushing attack. The Cogs compiled 64 rushing yards in the first half. Winnebago did a good job stopping the run and led 20-6 at halftime.
After trailing 27-6 midway through the third quarter, the Cogs got a bit of luck as a Winnebago long snap flew into the end zone. Austin Boehmer made the sack to record a safety. On the ensuing Cogs drive, McNeal found Eli Thurlby for a 6-yard touchdown.
“Came out in the second half and knew that we had to throw the ball more because they are stiff inside,” Frederick said. “Once we threw it a little bit, we started to get some yards on the ground with Sal and that helped.”
After the Cogs stopped the Indians, McNeal and Thurlby hooked up again – this time for a 7-yard score to make it 27-20 with 5:31 left.
After the Indians scored on their next possession, McNeal completed his third touchdown pass of the day, a 34-yard strike to Mike Kuhn with 32.9 seconds remaining to keep the comeback alive. On the kickoff, G-K tried for an onside kick, but Winnebago recovered.
“The kids are squirrelly and scrappy, and they make some plays. We have been doing that a lot this year,” Frederick said. “We had some surprising plays on offense and they stay after it. I liked the way we finished and it was fun.”
McNeal finished the contest 18-for-32 for 262 yards and three touchdowns. Thurlby was his top target by catching five passes for 72 yards and scores. Lopez finished with 65 yards on the ground. G-K will play North Boone next Friday night.