November 1, 2003
Grove City pulls out 28-21 win at Alfred
ALFRED, N.Y. -- It was not fancy. But Grove City (4-5) returned to its run-oriented roots Saturday afternoon at Alfred, grinding out a 28-21 win over the Saxons (4-5) at Merrill Field.
Grove City held a 23-minute edge in time of possession and executed 87 plays, including 66 runs. Fullback Brandon McGlothlin (Freedom, Pa./Freedom) pounded out 112 yards on 26 carries while halfback Adam Wargo (Champion, Ohio/Champion) picked up 92 yards on 17 carries.
Meanwhile, senior quarterback Sam Mowrey (Titusville, Pa./Titusville) completed 13 of 21 passes for 122 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Both touchdown passes went to junior split end Dave DiDonato (Bridgeville, Pa./South Fayette), who hauled in nine catches for 89 yards.
DiDonato also set a new single-season school record with his eighth touchdown reception. Jeff Mateer (1986), Rick Sems (1991) and Andy Sems (1992) all shared the previous record with seven. In addition, DiDonato's 687 yards receiving represent the third-highest single-season total in Grove City history.
The Grove City defense also came up with several critical plays, forcing four turnovers and sacking Alfred quarterback Ron Duliba twice. Senior Dan Roseum (Chesterland, Ohio/West Geauga) set up Grove City's final scoring drive with an interception while freshman safety Chris Schwamberger (Mansfield, Ohio/Mansfield) helped preserve the victory with an interception in the end zone with 45 seconds left.
After falling behind 6-0 on Jesse Raynor's 86-yard touchdown run on the Saxons' first play from scrimmage, Grove City took the lead late in the first period. Grove City took over at the Alfred 34 after a fair catch interference penalty against the Saxons. Mowrey tossed a 14-yarder to DiDonato to open the drive. Three plays later, Mowrey threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to DiDonato, who ran an out-and-up.
Michael Titzel's (Greenville, Pa./Greenville) conversion put Grove City on top.
Grove City extended the lead to 14-6 late in the first half with a 14-play, 80-yard drive that used over seven minutes of clock. On the drive, Grove City converted four third-down situations. McGlothlin ran for 23 yards on the drive while sophomore Anthony Giuliani (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park) added 14 yards on a pair of carries.
Mowrey capped the drive with a 21-yard touchdown pass to DiDonato, his 14th touchdown pass of the season. That is one shy of Mike Zeigler's record of 15, set in 1966.
Alfred tied the game on the first possession of the third period but the Wolverines counterpunched with a 9-play, 85-yard drive. All 85 yards came on the ground as McGlothlin sparked the drive with a 10-yard run. Mowrey scrambled for 13 yards before Wargo ripped off a 26-yarder. Wargo then scored from 14 yards out with 8:27 left.
Raynor tied the game with a 39-yard touchdown run but Grove City took the lead for good midway through the final quarter with another lengthy drive that was set up by Roseum's pick.
The Wolverines used 11 plays to move 49 yards. McGlothlin bulled over the pile and into the end zone with 7:52 left in the game.
Alfred moved deep into Grove City territory and had a goal-to-go situation with 90 seconds left. However, linebacker Mike Choby (North Huntingdon, Pa./Norwin) sacked Duliba for a six-yard loss back to the 16. After two straight incompletions, Schwamberger caught a deflected pass in the back corner of the end zone.
Choby led Grove City with 12 tackles and two sacks while Gene Iannuzzi (Port Jervis, N.Y./Minisink Valley) and Josh Hoey (Gibsonia, Pa./Pine-Richland) both recovered fumbles. Choby's 8.5 sacks this year rank third all-time in single-season Grove City history. His 37 career tackles for loss place him atop Grove City's career list along with Jonathan Forbes, who had 37 stuffs from 1998-2001.
It is Grove City's second straight win over Alfred and third win in four tries at Merrill Field. The Wolverines converted eight of 16 third-down opportunities.
The Wolverines close the 2003 regular season at home next Saturday against the United States Merchant Marine Academy at 1 p.m.
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