The Grove City College football team dropped to 1-2 in the Presidents' Athletic Conference Saturday afternoon with a 31-9 setback against visiting Thomas More (5-0, 3-0 PAC) on Homecoming at Robert E. Thorn Field.
Grove City (2-3) led 9-7 midway through the second quarter but the ninth-ranked Saints answered with 24 consecutive points.
Thomas More took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on Rob Kues' 26-yard touchdown pass to Austin Studer with 9:38 left. Grove City tied the game on its subsequent possession as junior quarterback Zach Gross scored on a 15-yard touchdown run. The score capped an eight-play, 67-yard drive.
The Wolverines then took their 9-7 lead at the 10:11 mark of the second quarter when junior defensive end Zack Patterson and junior defensive tackle Marcus Chakot tackled Thomas More fullback Domonique Haydon in the end zone for a safety.
During that possession, Thomas More had advanced the ball at its 44. However, Chakot stripped Kues on an option play and the continued scramble for the football knocked it back to the Saints' 2.
Thomas More reclaimed the lead on its next drive as Kues tossed a 61-yard touchdown pass to halfback Adam Rauch.
Thomas More fumbled the opening kickoff of the second half and freshman safety Joe Diani recovered the ball for Grove City at the Saints 37. Two plays later, Grove City fumbled the ball back to the Saints. The Saints then converted the turnover into points as Dustin Zink kicked a 32-yard field goal.
Grove City drove to Thomas More's 5-yard line but Zach Autenreib intercepted Gross at the 2, ending the potential game-tying drive with five minutes left in the third quarter.
Kendall Owens' 54-yard touchdown run extended Thomas More's lead to 24-9 early in the fourth quarter. Autenreib closed the scoring with a 32-yard interception return for touchdown moments later.
Defensively, Grove City limited the Saints to just 111 rushing yards. Thomas More entered the game averaging 248.5 rushing yards per game. Thomas More did outgain the Wolverines, 290-228.
For Grove City, junior tailback Blaine Miller ran for 91 yards on 22 carries. Junior Ed Reith ran for 30 yards on four attempts, including a 15-yard gain on a fake punt. Reith also caught five passes for 44 yards. Gross completed nine of 25 passes for 83 yards.
Owens led Thomas More with 75 rushing yards on nine carries. Kues completed 13 of 21 passes for 179 yards. Corie Cartmell caught five passes for 35 yards.
Freshman cornerback Chris Gibbs made his first start for Grove City and led the Wolverines with nine tackles. Junior linebacker Marc Shamley added eight stops, including two for loss. The Wolverines limited Thomas More to 3-for-13 efficiency on third down.
Reith averaged 44 yards per punt on eight kicks, including a long of 58 yards. Grove City held possession for 32 minutes, 49 seconds.