The Geneseo Green Machine lives to fight another day. The Green?Machine earned a trip to the semifinals for the first time since 2004 with a 17-9 victory over host Mendota Nov. 14.


The Geneseo Green Machine lives to fight another day. The Green?Machine earned a trip to the semifinals for the first time since 2004 with a 17-9 victory over host Mendota Nov. 14.

“I think our defense played great the whole game and I have to tip my hat to the defense,” said head coach Larry Johnsen. “It was a great high school football game and Mendota was everything we expected. And it is great to be going back home.”

The host Trojans struck first in the opening quarter with a 47 yard touchdown reception by Travis Martinson from?Travis Fritz to take the 6-0 lead. Mendota’s PAT pass attempt failed.

Geneseo responded with a little over a minute left in the quarter as Alex Anderson blocked Mendota’s punt and Hunter Fiers pounced on it in the end zone for the touchdown. Luke Lembke added the PAT kick to take the 7-6 lead.

Both teams battled back and forth throughout the second quarter. Mendota’s Jordan Fritz booted a 33-yard field goal with about 3:00 in the half for the 9-7 advantage. Geneseo was unable to counter and the Trojans took the 9-7 lead at the half.

The Green Machine regained control of the game early in the second half as Lembke sprinted back 78 yards for the touchdown on the first play from scrimmage. Lembke also added the PAT for the 14-9 lead.

“I told the guys they had to calm down,” said Johnsen of his second half adjustments. “We made the plays and it worked out for us. The blocked punt was absolutely big because at this stage the margin of error is really small and we made a big play.”

Later, in the third quarter,  the Geneseo defense came up with another big play. With Mendota’s offense going to the air, heavy pressure got a hold of the throwing arm of Mendota’s quarterback Fritz, which resulted in an interception by Cole Reiling. With good field position, Geneseo capitalized with a Lembke 25-yard field goal to put Geneseo up 17-9 with about 7:00 left in the quarter.

The Geneseo defense was able to corral the Mendota offense and hold off any scoring attempts the Trojans tried in the final minutes of the contest to give Geneseo the win.

Geneseo finished the game with 179 rushing yards on 38 carries and 27 passing yards on three receptions.

Running the ball for Geneseo were its big three — Lembke, Collin Akers and Jason Johnson. Lembke posted 90 yards on eight carries, followed by Akers with 76 yards on 17 carries and Johnson with 22 yards on eight carries.

Through the air, Michael Atwell completed three passes out of five attempts to Blake Croegaert for a total of 27 yards.

The Geneseo defense held Mendota to 90 rushing yards on 38 carries and 124 passing yards on five completions.

Geneseo was also able to force two Mendota interceptions, one by Akers and the other by Reiling.

Fiers and Tyler Claeys were both able to break through the offensive line and reach the quarterback for the sack. Fiers had one sack for a loss of 11 yards, while Claeys sacked the QB for a loss of 6 yards.

Croegaert and Patterson both finished the game with a tackle for a loss, each for a loss of 1 yard.
“We found a way to win and our defense was the difference maker,” said Johnsen. “We made the plays when we needed to and I am really proud of these guys.”

The Green Machine (10-2 overall) will next host Richmond-Burton at 1 p.m. Nov. 21 in the IHSA Semifinals at Bob Reade Field.