By VINCE PELUSO
ASHTABULA TOWNSHIP —
In the 2012 season opener, it was the Geneva Eagles who moved the ball on the Edgewood Warriors, only to come up without points to show for it, falling, 21-14.
Friday night, the roles were reversed as the Eagles won the turnover battle 5-0 and used the strength of running back Aaron Rossi’s 213 yards to defeat Edgewood 25-13 at Corlew Stadium.
“It’s a game of turnovers, the team that can make positive turnovers is usually going to win and we were able to capitalize on those,” Geneva coach Tony Hassett said. “It definitely is a big win, they got us last year. The kids have worked really hard for this game. Since December they’ve been in the weight room and all that, especially the seniors. They really did play hard.
“It was a tough night to play, it was humid, hot. I thought Edgewood played hard, too. We were able to get our power game going and run the ball.”
The Eagles took advantage of the game’s first miscue when they recovered a fumble on Edgewood’s 20 and converted it into a two-play drive that ended with a 10-yard Rossi touchdown with 6:49 remaining in the first.
That would be the first of two trips to the end zone for Rossi who averaged 7.1 yards per carry on the night.
“I was just feeling great,” the junior said. “The line was blocking, they were making holes for me and I was just running through them.”
Edgewood would come back, though.
Alex Wisnyai connected with Anthonie Magda on a crossing route and Magda outran the Geneva defense, going 67 yards to tie the game at 6 with 36 seconds left in the first.
But, the second quarter belonged to Geneva.
Following a Wisnyai interception, Travis Blake went 30 yards on the very next play to put Geneva up, 13-6.
Then, with 3:35 left in the second, a tipped Wisnyai pass was picked off by Zac Sweat, who took it 70 yards to put the Eagles up 19-6 at the half.
“We had a lot of turnovers, five on the night; two fumbles, three interceptions,” first-year Edgewood coach Josh Franke said. “Can’t blame Alex Wisnyai for two of the interceptions. Tipped pass on the one and the other he’s getting sacked while he’s throwing it and just goes right into someone’s hands. I’ll give him one interception. You gotta give it to Geneva, inside the tackle box they were excellent. They got a lot of pressure.
“Their defensive tackles, No. 5 (Jason Huelskamp) and No. 60 (Matt Kozlowski) are probably the two best defensive tackles we’ll see all year. They’re very quick, they made things
very difficult for us.”
The Eagles were able to establish the line of scrimmage in the second half, eating up the first 6 minutes, 54 second of the third quarter on an 11-play drive that ended in a turnover on downs.
That was followed by an Edgewood punt and Geneva seemed to leave the door open on the ensuing drive when Brandon Pakkala mishandled a snap and the Warriors recovered, taking over on their own 45.
However the drive ended in with an interception by Geneva’s Logan Morrow and six plays later Rossi scored from four yards out to push the lead to 25-6 and effectively end the game.
“He (Franke) really had the advantage cuz we hadn’t seen any of this, the bunch, the trips (the Edgewood offense),” Hassett said. “He kept that so it was really hard to prepare for them. He had the advantage having our film from last year. I thought we outexecuted them at times and got Rossi going a little bit. The interception in the first half, when your defense can score that says a lot and we were able to put some pressure on them.
“We gotta be able to finish. We were happy we were able to drive the ball (to start the third), but that will come. I will take an ugly win any day over a pretty loss. The kids have their first game jitters so that’s normal. This is just one win, now we’ve got Perry coming in.”
Edgewood got on the board one final time with 35 seconds remaining when Magda scored from 14 yards out.
Hassett said Rossi’s running was big for the Eagles.
“He’s a tough running back, we knew that last year,” he said. “When he hits you it’s a load. He knows he’s going to get the ball and other teams know it, too. It’s just a matter of who wins that battle.”
Franke complimented the Geneva offensive line for winning that battle.
“To take nothing away from Rossi, it was his offensive line, his line completely dominated us up front,” he said. “They won the battle against our defensive line. I don’t second guess the game plan. We had the proper game plan. I believe we had the proper scheme. They just executed better than we did.”
On the night, Edgewood outgained Geneva 401 to 288, throwing for 293 yards. Wisnyai finished the night 13 of 26 for 252 yards (1 TD, 3 INT).
The Warriors looked to have the early momentum as an halfback pass from Magda to Connor McLaughlin (four catches, 114 yards) resulted in a 41-yard gain on the game’s first play.
But, Hassett’s defense held up, forcing a missed field goal by Edgewood.
“Our team responded very well on defense,” Hassett said. “We’re not very big but we were able to get the stop. I thought that was huge in the game to get that stop and stop that momentum early.”
Franke said he isn’t worried about his team’s psyche after one loss.
“They’re going to bounce back, the next two weeks are tough,” he said. “The first three weeks are the toughest stint in our schedule. We’ve really gotta try to come out of it 2-1. We’re going to be putting work in and try to make that happen.”
On the other side, Rossi said the win is big for Geneva.
“It feels amazing, we really needed this,” he said. “This is huge. This will help us next game and give us confidence.”