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October 11, 2008

Grove City rolls past Geneva, 38-13

GROVE CITY, Pa. -- The Grove City College football team improved to 4-2 overall and 3-0 at home Saturday afternoon with a 38-13 victory over longtime rival Geneva in a matchup of Presidents' Athletic Conference members at Robert E. Thorn Field.

Senior tailback Brian Mercer (Ridgewood, N.J./Ridgewood) ran for 87 yards and three touchdowns while senior wide receiver Stephen Mercer (East Liverpool, Ohio/Beaver Local) set a new Grove City record by returning a punt 83 yards for a touchdown in the first quarter.

Grove City owned a 12-minute edge in time of possession and limited Geneva (1-4) to a 2-for-14 effort on third down.

Grove City opened Saturday's game with a 15-play, 57-yard drive that culminated in Brian Mercer's six-yard touchdown run. Sophomore Craig Bicehouse (Slippery Rock, Pa./Slippery Rock) kicked the first of his five extra points, giving Grove City a 7-0 lead with 8:13 left in the quarter.

After a three-and-out by Geneva, the Wolverines doubled the lead with an 11-play, 73-yard drive. Brian Mercer's one-yard touchdown plunge at the 1:57 mark capped the drive. Brian Mercer caught a 33-yard pass from junior quarterback Andrew DiDonato (Bridgeville, Pa./South Fayette) during the possession to give the Wolverines first-and-goal.

Geneva punted after just three plays on its next drive and Stephen Mercer fielded the punt at the Grove City 17. He returned the ball along the left sideline before angling across the field to the end zone for his first career punt return for a touchdown. The 83-yard runback breaks Jeff Cass's record of 82 yards, set in 1986 against Thiel. Bicehouse's PAT gave Grove City a 21-0 lead with 21 seconds left in the quarter.

Grove City pushed the lead to 28-0 with 3:17 left in the first half as DiDonato fired a 34-yard touchdown pass to freshman wingback Clayton Hall (North Canton, Ohio/Jackson).

Geneva's A.J. Delmonico cut the lead to 28-6, though, as he returned the subsequent kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown. Grove City senior safety Zach Fulmer (New Holland, Pa./Garden Spot) blocked the extra point attempt.

Bicehouse booted a 28-yard field goal with 36 seconds left in the half to give Grove City a 31-6 halftime lead. Freshman tailback Ed Reith (Pittsburgh, Pa./North Hills) took the ball into Geneva territory with a 22-yard run while Brian Mercer followed with a 12-yard run to the Geneva 25.

Brian Mercer closed the scoring for Grove City with 1:29 left in the third quarter with a six-yard touchdown run. The score punctuated a 12-play, 80-yard drive for the Wolverines.

Junior defensive tackle Tony Clark (Stow, Ohio/Stow) recorded seven tackles and a sack for Grove City while freshman linebacker Marc Shamley (Orlando, Fla./Pine Castle Christian) recorded a sack and also recovered a fumble.

Sophomore linebacker Matt Lyons (Mentor, Ohio/Mentor Lake Catholic) recorded a sack and forced a fumble while freshman linebacker Kent Heglaw (Sagamore Hills, Ohio/Nordonia) also had a sack. Freshman linebacker Jason Ferguson (Mineral Ridge, Ohio/Mineral Ridge) recovered a fumble.

Grove City owned a 380-264 edge in total yardage. The Wolverines recorded 21 first downs. DiDonato completed 18 of 31 passes for 191 yards. Hall caught three passes for 53 yards while sophomore A.J. Tapper (Cambridge Springs, Pa./Cambridge Springs) and Stephen Mercer both pulled in three passes for 30 yards each. Hall also ran for 45 yards on six carries. Grove City finished with 191 yards passing and 189 rushing yards.

The Wolverines had the ball for 36:05 while Geneva owned possession for 23:55. Geneva quarterback David Girardi completed 15 of 35 passes for 160 yards. Stuart Bell caught seven passes for 77 yards and a touchdown for the Golden Tornadoes.

The teams had not played in Grove City since 1982. Grove City last defeated Geneva in 1979, 26-25. The teams did not play between 1984 and 2006. Geneva is a provisional member of NCAA Division III, thus Saturday's game does not count in the PAC standings.

Grove City will host Thomas More next Saturday, October 18 in the annual Homecoming game at 2 p.m.

Box Score

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