September 4, 2004
Grove City wins 3rd straight season opener
GROVE CITY, Pa. -- The Grove City College football team opened the 2004 season Saturday afternoon the same way it started the 2002 and 2003 seasons -- with a victory.
The Wolverines (1-0) scored 27 straight points in the first half and also added 27 consecutive points in the fourth quarter en route to a 54-14 victory over Manchester, Ind. at Robert E. Thorn Field.
Senior fullback Brandon McGlothlin (Freedom, Pa./Freedom) ran for 121 yards and three touchdowns while junior strong safety Aaron Margo (Dover, Ohio/Dover) set a new school record with a 94-yard interception return for touchdown in the fourth quarter.
McGlothlin scored a pair of first-half touchdowns that gave Grove City the lead for good. His first, an 8-yard run with 5:13 left in the first quarter, tied the game at 7-7. He then added a three-yard run midway through the second period.
Following an interception by junior linebacker Ben Szelong (Gibsonia, Pa./Hampton), the Wolverines relied upon a pair of freshmen running backs for consecutive big plays. Freshman Matt Weil (Fombell, Pa./Riverside) caught a 24-yard swing pass from junior quarterback Bradford Clark (Letart, W. Va./Wahama) on the first play of the drive.
On the next play, freshman Wes Basham (Nokesville, Va./Brentsville) charged up the middle and ran 51 yards to the end zone, giving Grove City a 20-7 lead at halftime. McGlothlin's 27-yard touchdown run in the third quarter extended the lead to 27-7.
Manchester slashed the lead to 27-14 early in the fourth on Joe DeCraene's quarterback sneak from the 1. The Wolverines botched the ensuing kickoff, giving the Spartans possession at the Grove City 29. Manchester then drove to the 12, but Margo intercepted a DeCraene pass at the six and returned in 94 yards for a touchdown.
It is the longest interception return in school history, breaking the previous record of 85 yards, set by John Roth in 1983 against Thiel.
As a whole, the Wolverine defense forced seven Manchester turnovers, including five fumbles. Sophomore defensive tackle Jordan Johnston (Strattanville, Pa./Clarion-Limestone) had two sacks, forced a fumble and recovered a fumble. Junior defensive end Steve Weary (Fredonia, Pa./Reynolds) had a sack and a fumble recovery.
Senior linebacker Mike Choby (North Huntingdon, Pa./Norwin) blocked a punt, registered a sack and forced a fumble. Sophomore defensive end Richard Welch (Dryden, N.Y./Dryden) also had one of Grove City's five sacks.
In addition, Grove City limited the Spartans to just 25 yards rushing on 33 attempts.
Grove City extended its lead to 40-14 as sophomore quarterback Scott Fichter (Pittsburgh, Pa./North Hills) fired a 35-yard touchdown pass to senior Bo Danton (Pasadena, Md./Chesapeake) with 8:43 left.
Weil scored his first collegiate touchdown later in the fourth on a 20-yard sprint around left end. Senior Bret Ayers (Duncansville, Pa./Hollidaysburg) then recovered a fumble at the Manchester 10 on the Spartans' second play. Junior fullback Ken Roudybush (Worthington, Pa./Kittanning), in his first game back from a season-ending injury in 2003, stormed 10 yards up the middle on a trap play for Grove City's final points.
Clark went 8-for-13 for 87 yards in his first collegiate start while Fichter went 3-of-3 for 56 yards. Fichter also caught a pass, one of seven different players to catch a pass Saturday. Margo led Grove City with eight total tackles while senior linebacker Mike Prioletti (Harmony, Pa./Seneca Valley) and junior nose tackle Adam Gaab (McMurray, Pa./Peters Township) both posted seven tackles. Both recovered fumbles.
Senior All-America B.J. Edwards led Manchester with 11 stops. DeCraene completed 16 of 28 attempts for 231 yards and a touchdown. Brandon Tugmon caught seven passes for 85 yards.
Grove City will visit Carnegie Mellon next Saturday afternoon at 1 p.m.
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