After falling behind 9-0 at the half to Coal City, the Geneseo Green Machine clawed their way back to make a run at the Coalers, but effort fell just short as Coal City escaped with the 12-10 win Nov. 3 at Bob Reade Field.
"We put ourselves in a good position in the end, but hats off to Coal City they made the plays on offense and defense," said head coach Larry Johnsen. "I am proud of our kids. They played hard. We had our backs against the wall all season."
In the first quarter, the Coalers found themselves in scoring position, but the Geneseo defense managed to hold off the touchdown and limit Coal City to just a 25-yard field goal by Lane Cowhead for the 3-0 lead.
Coal City found the end zone in the second quarter on a Ryland Tondini 46-yard punt return. The PAT kick was blocked by Michael Daniels to give the Coalers the 9-0 advantage at the half.
The Green Machine wasted no time after halftime getting on the board as the defense forced a fumble. Rayce Singbush scooped up the fumble and ran it back for a 23-yard touchdown. Kevin Wolak added the PAT kick to bring Geneseo within two, 9-7.
"We needed the spark (the fumble return for touchdown)," said Johnsen. "We came back and fought back, but you can't make the mistakes."
Geneseo took its first lead of the game late in the third quarter when Wolak split the uprights on a 29-yard field goal with a little over a minute left in the third for the 10-9 advantage.
Coal City countered in the fourth quarter with a 19-yard field goal by Cowhead to regain control of the lead, 12-10.
With a series of successful passes, the Green Machine marched down the field in hopes of scoring the winning touchdown, but had to settle for a 44-yard field goal attempt, which went wide left with only seconds left.
The Coal City offense took over and took a knee to let the clock run out to end Geneseo's season.
"It was a defensive battle and Coal City's two punt returns really hurt and they had us pinned up," said Johnsen. "I am proud of our kids. They just didn't give Coal City the win. It was a hard-fought battle."
Geneseo's ground game went for 132 yards on 39 carries led by Luke Snyder who rushed for 64 yards on nine touches.
Singbush chipped in 33 yards on 14 carries, followed by Mitch Miller with 17 yards on seven carries. Grant Burress ended the game with 11 yards on four carries, while Brandon Mizlo had 8 yards on three touches, and Ryan Webster, two carries for a negative 1 yard.
Page 2 of 2 - The Green Machine passed for 64 yards on six catches as Snyder connected with Singbush, one catch for 28 yards; Miller, two catches for 25 yards; Daniels, two catches for 10 yards and Webster, one catch for 5 yards.
Defensively, Geneseo allowed Coal City 136 rushing yards and 38 passing yards.
Singbush and Mizlo both came up with fumble recoveries for the Green Machine, while Cameron Panicucci had a tackle for a loss of 3 yards and Miller, one for 2 yards.
Panicucci broke through the line twice Saturday to sack the quarterback for a loss of 18 yards, while Nick Verbeck added a sack on the quarterback of 2 yards.
The Green Machine finishes the year at 6-5 overall and 3-2 in the NIB 12.
"The big thing about this season, is we had our backs against the wall and these kids kept coming back and clawing back," said Johnsen. "They played Green Machine Football, and I am really proud of them."