By Doug Chapin
CORTLAND — A good start fueled by two quick turnovers, and a strong finish by sophomore quarterback Anthony Franco carried unbeaten Lakeview High to a 28-7 triumph Friday night over Geneva.
Junior defensive back Michael Prindle picked up a fumble on Geneva’s third play of the game and carried it 20 yards into the end zone. Daniel Marhulik then recovered another Geneva fumble on the ensuing kickoff to set up a 12-yard touchdown run by Te Elias. The Bulldogs (3-0) led 14-0 just a minute and two seconds into the game.
“We came out of the locker room ready to go, we jumped on them right away and that was huge,” Lakeview coach Tom Pavlansky said. “I was proud of Michael Prindle and the defense, and the special teams especially.”
To their credit the Eagles (2-1) did not fold and put together a 10-play, 73-yard scoring drive to cut the gap to 14-7.
It was clear the Bulldogs were in a dogfight, especially considering how Geneva was concentrating on stopping Elias. The senior back, who opened the season with back-to-back 200-yard games, was held to 56 yards on 21 carries by the Eagles.
It would seem most future opponents will do the same, so the passing game takes on added importance to the Bulldogs despite the fact Franco is just a sophomore.
“Anthony works hard, he wants to do well, he has gotten better and is on the way to being a very good football player,” Pavlansky said. “I think we had the same number of drops we had last week, but we believe in our kids and we are going to keep throwing the football.”
Franco missed on his first five attempts in the game, including two interceptions and two drops. He connected on 10 of his last 12 passes for 150 yards, beginning midway through the second quarter.
After picking up just one first down on its previous three possessions, Lakeview took over at its 33 with 7:11 left in the first half. Franco connected with Tyler DeWeese for nine yards, then, three plays later, hit Prindle down the middle of the field for a 39-yard gain.
On the next play Elias dashed 12 yards up the middle for his second TD of the night and Lakeview took a 21-7 lead into the half.
Franco stayed hot, completing all six of his passes in the third quarter for 86 yards. On the first possession of the second half, Lakeview made the score 28-7, going 62 yards on five plays. The drive consisted basically of Franco’s 22-yard completion to Toma Leveto and a beautifully-thrown 39-yard scoring pass to Matt Beaman who beat two defenders on a post pattern.
After the ensuing kickoff, Geneva ripped off runs of 16 and 14 yards. That prompted a timeout by Pavlansky with 9:25 on the third-quarter clock and he had a discussion with his defense. Geneva recorded only one first down the remainder of the game.
“The defense played well, especially after giving up more than 400 yards last week,” Pavlansky said. “We took a little pride in our work and held them to seven points. We definitely played better this week.
“The first two plays they ran (in the second half) we had talked about all week. We’re a young football team and maybe we got in a comfort zone we can’t afford to be in. We have to have the switch on all the time. We missed some assignments we shouldn’t miss so that’s why we took the timeout, to make sure we got it corrected.”
Geneva is a Division II school with two wins already and the ability to win a few more. That will bode well for the Bulldogs in the Division IV, Region 13 ratings. A trip to Poland in next week could be even more important.
“We knew this was a huge game (Geneva) because it was the one we were playing this week,” Pavlansky said. “Regardless of whether they are D2 or D4, it was a huge game. I’m real proud of the kids’ effort this week, they knew we had to improve from last week. I think we did.
“We know we have a great opportunity, a great challenge ahead of us next week against Poland.”