Grove City Erases 21-Point Gap, Stuns W&J
The Grove City College football team rallied from a 21-0 deficit to pull out a 24-21 victory over visiting Washington & Jefferson Saturday afternoon in Presidents' Athletic Conference action at rain-soaked Robert E. Thorn Field on Senior Day.
Grove City trailed 21-0 just 14 minutes into the game but surged back on the strength of three takeaways and the first 300-yard passing game by sophomore quarterback Brian Pell. Pell threw for 305 yards on 21-of-33 accuracy, along with a career-high four touchdowns. The 305 yards is the fourth-highest single-game total in program history.
Defensively, the Wolverines held W&J (4-4, 3-3 PAC) scoreless on each of its nine possessions during the final three quarters.
Grove City slashed W&J's lead to 21-6 with 3:40 remaining in the first half when Pell threw a three-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Joe Gulaskey on fourth-and-goal. The conversion failed.
The Wolverines pulled to within 21-12 in the final minute of the first half when Pell threw a 56-yard touchdown pass to senior tailback Blaine Miller with 44 seconds remaining. The conversion failed.
In the third quarter, Pell fired a 26-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Anthony Ritchie with 10:13 left, cutting the lead to 21-18. The Wolverine defense set up the one-play scoring drive when senior linebacker Tim Irwin forced a fumble that senior cornerback Aaron Palmieri recovered at the W&J 26.
Grove City took its first lead of the game with 13:30 left when Pell threw a 46-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wingback Jimmy Bailey. A 31-yard Pell-to-Ritchie completion on the previous play put the ball in W&J territory.
The Presidents drove into Grove City territory on their final possession of the game but Irwin jarred the ball away from running back Tim McNerney and Grove City sophomore linebacker Ben Manwaring recovered at the 5 with 1:59 left. Grove City sealed the win when Miller gained five yards on third-and-5.
W&J scored on its first three possessions of the game. Matt Bliss threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Dion Wiegand 2:03 into the first quarter. McNerney's 31-yard touchdown run gave W&J a 14-0 lead with 8:19 left in the quarter and Taylor Hockman closed the W&J scoring with a four-yard run at the 1:06 mark.
Miller caught eight passes for 96 yards and Ritchie gained 92 yards on five receptions. Miller ran for 38 yards on 17 carries and Pell ran for 21 yards on five attempts. Grove City did not surrender a sack.
Irwin led the defense with 11 tackles and his two forced fumbles. Sophomore linebacker Ryan Althausen recorded two sacks while senior defensive end Zack Patterson had a sack and forced a fumble. Sophomore safety Chris Gibbs and freshman safety Jason Skyrm also forced fumbles.
Grove City finished with a 381-367 edge in total offensive yards. W&J gained 178 of its yards in the first quarter. The Wolverines held a 32:18-27:42 advantage in time of possession.
Bliss completed 23 of 37 passes for 207 yards. McNerney ran for 127 yards on 21 carries. Alex Baroffio had eight catches for 106 yards.
Grove City is now 12-1 in its last 13 Senior Day games. The Wolverines had not defeated W&J since 1998.
Grove City (2-6, 2-4 PAC) will visit Bethany next Saturday in conference action at 1:30 p.m.