GENESEO – The Genoa-Kingston football team certainly had its chances.
On Saturday, the Cogs saw their season come to an end at the hands of Geneseo, 24-0, in the first round of the IHSA Class 4A playoffs.
The score was much more lopsided than the actual game, but the Cogs' offense couldn't produce much in four quarters.
Held to just 158 yards of offense for the game, G-K failed to score on back-to-back possessions from inside the Maple Leafs 10-yard line. Twice, the Leafs got fourth-down stops, including a pair of plays from inside their own 1-yard line.
The Cog defense forced five fumbles against the No. 4 ranked team in Class 4A, but couldn't turn any of those into points.
"We had a play called (on 4th and goal from inside the 1), and we told our QB to be smart about it ,and he thought the sneak was there," Genoa-Kingston coach Travis Frederick said.
QB Griffin McNeal was smothered at the goal line as the Geneseo line forced the Cogs back a whole yard.
"Griffin didn't have his best game of the year, but he's got a very high upside and can set the bar very high," Frederick said. "We knew this was going to be a very aggressive, emotional and chippy game."
The Cogs defense answered the call from the get-go. They stopped a 17-play, nearly 10-minute drive on the first series of the game by forcing a fumble.
But on the day the offense just couldn't stay on the field. They amassed only 158 yards and 7 first downs, three of which came very late in the fourth quarter when the outcome was no longer in doubt.
Geneseo scored early and late in the second quarter, taking advantage of the Cogs punting into the wind. Ryan Webster rushed in from 10 yards out following a holding penalty and 11-yard punt that gave the Leafs great field position. Late in the second quarter, Kevin Wolak added a field goal to put the Leafs up two scores.
In the fourth quarter the Leafs offensive line went to work. Geneseo ate up the clock with a 14-play, 90-yard drive that ended with a Lane Akre 1-yard run. A quick 3-and-out put the defense back on the field with Geneseo getting the ball at midfield. Four plays later, Webster was into the end zone for the dagger.
For the Cogs, Eli Thurlby had the busiest day, rushing 4 times for 42 yards, but also making a game-high 12 tackles. Kevin McIntyre pounced on a pair of fumbles, and Max Hernandez nearly had double-digits in tackles, taking down 8 Leafs.
"This was a very defensive game and our kids knew that coming in," Frederick said. "I thought we played well the first few series defensively, but midway through the second quarter we had only run six offensive plays."
The Cogs end their season 5-5, and have improved by two wins in each of Frederick's three seasons at the helm. Only twice in the last 20 years have the Cogs won an opening round game, but with McNeal back behind center next year things look bright.
"We have a ton of juniors at skill positions coming back next year but we'll need to replace the linemen," Frederick said. "We are graduating four senior linemen so it's up to the sophomores and juniors to step up and fill that role."