Geneseo High School football coach Larry Johnsen knows he has something special in senior Bruce Moore.
“He's a 1% guy,” said Johnsen of his two-way standout. “He's part of an elite group that does things differently.”
On Monday afternoon, despite a warm day with temperatures going north of 80 degrees and the sun beating off the artificial turf at the Soule Bowl in East Moline, Moore gave 100% in helping the Maple Leafs rally for a 32-21 Western Big 6 victory over the Alleman Pioneers.
Moore rushed a whopping 44 times for 214 yards and scored all three of Geneseo's second-half touchdowns as the Maple Leafs rallied from a 21-11 halftime deficit to log their first victory of the season.
“We're the Green Machine; we're so tough we can't stop,” said Moore, still moving like the Energizer Bunny after never leaving the field during the game. “I don't know how to stop.”
The Pioneers (1-2, 1-2 Big 6) couldn't find his off switch either.
“He's just a hard running back. We saw that on film,” said Alleman coach Todd Depoorter of Geneseo's featured back. “We knew he was their most dangerous weapon and they did a nice of blocking. Their H-back (PJ Moser) does a real nice job blocking and is an athletic kid, but we knew the running back was going to be the key to the game.”
While Johnsen describes Moore as being "the 1%," the 5-foot-8, 160-pound senior was actually 85% of the Maple Leafs' offense in the Monday matinee.
“He played an amazing game, offensively and defensively,” said Geneseo senior quarterback Nathan Beneke, who had the task of turning and handing the ball to Moore all afternoon. “He was lights out.”
Especially in the second half when the game went from Alleman dominating in the first half to Geneseo taking total control in the final 24 minutes.
Alleman scored touchdowns on all three first-half possessions, driving 57 yards in nine plays, 75 yards in eight plays and closing the half with an 80-yard, 15-play drive. Jack Patting, who carried 21 times for 81 yards, capped the first and third drives with short TD bursts. Sandwiched in between, freshman Chase Stephens caught a 48-yard TD strike from senior QB Zach Carpita.
Even with senior running back Jake Mattecheck out, the Pioneers rolled to 199 yards of offense in the first half and looked unstoppable.
Then halftime happened and the game totally flipped.
“The first two games, we had self-inflicted wounds and blown body parts off,” said Johnsen, whose team was flagged for two big penalties in Alleman's first drive. “We were able to overcome and that's a real credit to the assistant coaches and the players who kept battling on.”
Leading 21-11, Alleman had the ball first in the third quarter and picked up where it left off, driving from its 30 the the Geneseo 29 before two incompletions stalled that possession.
Geneseo answered with a 13-play, 71-yard drive in which Moore rushed 12 times, including the final yard for a score.
Alleman's next possession ended with the only turnover of the game, a fumble recovered by Geneseo's Brennen Smith at the Alleman 31.
Two plays later, Moore busted loose for a 26-yard scoring jaunt, his fourth and final run of 10 yards or more in the game and Geneseo had a 25-21 lead.
“We just had the mindset of we're going to get it done,” said Beneke, who completed one pass for a 29-yard TD to Mason Jones for Geneseo's first six points in the first half that preceded his two-point conversion run. “Our offensive line had absolutely massive holes and Bruce Moore was able to run right through them for big gains.”
As Johnsen said, he wanted to keep “going to the hot hand” and that was easy behind the big boys up front.
Juniors Teagan Miller, Michael Emerick, Nathan VandeWoestyne, and Harrison Neumann along with sophomore Ian Leetch and senior Brandon Cathcart did much of the heavy lifting along with a couple of fullbacks and tight ends as Geneseo went with six on the line much of the game in churning out 240 yards in 56 carries. All but 79 of those yards came in the second half.
Conversely, Alleman totaled just 66 yards in the second half.
“We did a nice job on the offensive line and moving the ball and coach (offensive coordinator Mike Tracey) did a nice job of calling things,” Depoorter said after his club dropped to 1-2. “We just didn't get anything sustained. Momentum is such a big part of football and we just didn't get a couple of first downs to get us in sync.”
Now, the Pioneers face a quick turnaround and are right back at Soule Bowl on Friday night to face United Township (1-2, 1-2).
Depoorter said the Pioneers should have Mattecheck back for Friday's game. The coach said his senior standout missed too much practice time this week recovering from a physical 20-14 overtime victory over Moline Week 2.