The end scene of La Salle-Peru seniors Alex “Moose” Duncan, Erik Gens, Jon Hewitt and junior Coltyn Lazzarotto sitting together on the bench staring at an empty Howard Fellows Stadium said it all.
The Geneseo football team defeated L-P 48-14 to end the Cavaliers’ season with a 1-8 overall record and a 5-0 Northern Illinois Big 12 Conference West Division record.
“I just came with the mentality to have fun, play hard—just having fun was all we could really do,” senior receiver and defensive back Logan Zeman said. “Our record was obviously not good at all, but that wasn’t in my mind. A win would have been nice, but the main thing was to have fun with my teammates and always remember it.”
The Maple Leafs scored the first six touchdowns of the game to jump out to a 41-0 lead.
After quarterback Luke Snyder connected with Jacob VanDoren for his third passing touchdown of the game with 9:19 left in the third quarter, a running clock began.
L-P’s coach Joe Sassano put something new into the game plan and it was productive. However, the few first downs were not combined for long drives or touchdown scores to cut the deficit.
“The T-formation with the big guys was something we just started working on this past week,” Sassano said. “We were at a point where the kids were working hard and we wanted to have some fun. We had enough healthy linemen to at least give it a try.
“Consistency has been the issue all year with us, trying to put something together to either take care of the football or get in that second- or third-down situation. We had a lot of good individual performances by a lot of guys.”
With the game out of reach, Zeman remembered a few words said to him before kickoff.
“Someone said to me before the game ‘Hey, just put some points on the board’ and that’s what I wanted to do,” Zeman said. “The first half didn’t go so well. We came into the second half and the only thing I was thinking was let’s get some points. I didn’t want that big, fat goose egg up there.”
What would have been the last play of the third quarter for the Maple Leafs became the first Cavalier points on the scoreboard as Zeman recovered a fumble and took it to the house for a 58-yard return touchdown.
“It felt awesome. I didn’t expect it. I just saw it right there,” Zeman said. “I give credit to my teammates, (Jacob Gonzales), he hit it out and one of our big guys (Gens) could of picked it up, he was right there, but he seen me coming and he said ‘I know Logan is faster’ and let me pick it up. It was awesome.”
The second and final L-P touchdown came off of a blocked punt by Duncan that set the Cavaliers on the Geneseo 5-yard line.
A play later, Zeman had his second touchdown of the day from a pass by senior quarterback Colby Sassano.
The effort made the once-quieted fans cheer, but the damage from the five lost fumbles and interception couldn’t put the Cavaliers back into the game with eight minutes left.
Geneseo let underclassmen carry the ball to wind out the clock. In the process, they found the end zone one more time to make the official score 48-14.
“We’ll relish the time with the seniors that we have here,” Joe Sassano said. “As we look at the seniors over there, they’re relishing their memories here and I think that’s what we’ll do for the next few weeks.”
Note: Harry J. Howarth, a World War II veteran and L-P graduate from the 1940 Cavalier team, spoke to the team before kickoff and was honored during the game.
Brandon LaChance can be reached at 220-6995, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @NT_LaChance.