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September 13, 2008

Grove City tops CMU, 19-10

GROVE CITY, Pa. -- Senior tailback Brian Mercer (Ridgewood, N.J./Ridgewood) ran for 115 yards while the Grove City defense forced four second-half turnovers Saturday afternoon to help host Grove City earn a 19-10 home win over Carnegie Mellon in non-conference action at rain-soaked Robert E. Thorn Field.

It is Grove City's first win in its home opener since 2004. It is also the Wolverines' first home win over CMU since 2000.

Grove City (1-1) trailed 3-0 at halftime but took the lead for good with 16 straight points. Sophomore kicker Chris Haley (Butler, Pa./Butler) kicked a 22-yard field goal with 5:40 left in the third quarter to tie the game. Haley's kick capped a 12-play, 75-yard drive.

The Wolverines surged ahead with 21 seconds left in the third as senior wide receiver Stephen Mercer (East Liverpool, Ohio/Beaver Local) pulled in a nine-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Andrew DiDonato (Bridgeville, Pa./South Fayette). The score punctuated an 11-play, 63-yard drive.

Grove City forced its third turnover of the game with 10:13 remaining as junior defensive tackle Tony Clark (Stow, Ohio/Stow) forced a fumble that senior free safety Zach Fulmer (New Holland, Pa./Garden Spot) recovered at the CMU 13. Two plays later, Brian Mercer scored on a 13-yard touchdown run over right end at the 9:32 mark. The conversion failed.

CMU pulled to within 16-10 with 7:31 remaining on Anthony Ruzga's three-yard touchdown run. However, Haley closed the scoring by drilling a 30-yard field goal with 2:12 left to extend the lead to 19-10. Haley's kick closed a 10-play, 36-yard drive that consumed 5 minutes, 11 seconds. Sophomore safety Butch Kriger (Pittsburgh, Pa./Montour) set up the drive by returning a kickoff 36 yards to midfield.

Carnegie Mellon drove to the Grove City 38 on its final drive but junior cornerback Randy Santina (Elizabeth, Pa./Elizabeth Forward) intercepted a Phil Pantalone pass. In the third quarter, Fulmer intercepted two Pantalone passes. The second interception snuffed out a potential scoring opportunity as Fulmer picked off the pass in the end zone.

Grove City limited CMU to just six second-half first downs. The Wolverines also owned a 19:32-10:28 edge in time of possession over the final two quarters. Grove City out-gained CMU, 328-259.

DiDonato completed 13 of 24 passes for 137 yards. Sophomore Zach Summy (Manheim, Pa./Manheim Central) caught a game-high five passes for 91 yards. Stephen Mercer caught three passes and also threw a 26-yard completion to Summy.

Santina led Grove City with a career-high 14 tackles while senior linebacker Adam Eichler (North Versailles, Pa./East Allegheny) added 11 stops.

Anthony Ruzga led CMU with 72 yards rushing. Pantalone completed two of 11 attempts for 22 yards.

Grove City will open Presidents' Athletic Conference play next Saturday night, September 20, at 7 p.m. against Bethany.

Box Score

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