by Mike Slodki
MAPLE PARKâ€”What might have been a thrilling win for Kaneland High School football on Friday night is now just “what might have been.â€
A Michael Santacaterina 2-yard touchdown run in overtime at Peterson Field gave the Vikings a 27-24 win and closed the book on the Kaneland-Geneva football rivalry.
Kaneland moves onto the Northern Illinois Big 12 conference, while Geneva saunters on to the Upstate Eight in 2010. Geneva all but wraps up the WSC championship at 7-1 with a 5-1 conference record, and KHS falls to 5-3 with a 4-2 WSC tally.
For Kaneland, it was the first overtime game since beating Sterling in a still-talked about quarterfinal playoff game, 52-45 on Nov. 11, 2006.
Kaneland was 10 minutes and 22 seconds away from a victory after a 14-yard touchdown strike to Ryley Bailey gave the Knights a 21-14 lead, but Geneva calmly tied the game on a six-yard Santacaterina touchdown run with 7:33 to go in regulation to set up overtime.
KHS outgained Geneva by a total of 276-233, but saw the running game hit a snag with just 10 yards on 15 carries.
â€œWe were just trying to go with the plays that had been successful,â€ KHS coach Tom Fedderly said. â€œWe needed to punch it in and didnâ€™t do it.â€
QB Joe Camaliere was 20-for-41 for 236 yards and three touchdowns, with Bailey gathering 175 yards on 13 catches. Teammate Taylor Andrews snagged three balls for 55 yards.
â€œThereâ€™s a lot of good things we can take from this game. That was a very good football team we went to overtime with,â€ Fedderly said.
Geneva’s Santacaerina had a productive night with 129 yards on 22 carries with four touchdowns.
The first score of the game came when Geneva concluded an eight-play, 55-yard drive on Santacaterina’s eight-yard TD run with 2:32 remaining in the first quarter.
After Kaneland’s first three drives ended in punts, the Knights got on the board with a 32-yard TD pass to Andrews on a 3rd-and-19 play. The somersaulting catch with 6:13 remaining in the half deadlocked the contest at 7 going into the half.
In the third quarter, Santacaterina capped an 11-play, 62-yard drive to open the half with a two-yard score to make it 14-7 with 8:39 to go.
Kaneland tied it on the ensuing drive thanks to an Andrews TD catch from the 11 with 5:43 left in the frame, setting up the final quarter’s action.
The Knights’ overtime attempt had Bailey catching a four-yard pass on first down but not able to come down with a second down pass.
A third-down throw to Tyler Callaghan was incomplete, setting up a 23-yard field goal by Chad Swieca for a 24-21 KHS lead.
Needing to hold the Vikings to a field goal or less, Geneva fed Santacaterina the ball on first down to the two, where he punched it in on second down to end the contest.
Now, Kaneland must defeat Yorkville on the road on Friday, Oct. 23 for a more secure playoff standing.
The sophomores lost to Geneva in earlier Friday action 22-8, and the freshmen lost to Geneva 52-7 on Monday.
Play of the Knight:
Joe Camaliere did everything short of taking the ball for himself on Friday.
Check that, he did, and it was at an important juncture in the game.
Facing a swarm of Geneva defenders on a third-and-20 from the Knight 40, Camaliere found holes thanks to blockers and picked up 29 yards for a first down. The drive continued, leading to a Ryley Bailey TD catch.
Photo: Knight WR Taylor Andrews caught two TDâ€™s during Fridayâ€™s 27-24 overtime loss to Geneva. The Knights try to get their sixth win of 2009 at Yorkville on Friday, Oct. 23. Photo by Ryan Wells