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September 12, 2009

CMU tops Grove City, 45-40

PITTSBURGH -- The Grove City College football team opened the road portion of the 2009 schedule Saturday afternoon with a 45-40 setback against host Carnegie Mellon at Gesling Stadium.

Grove City fell behind 31-7 early in the third quarter before charging back with five second-half touchdowns. The Wolverine comeback effort began with 10:38 left in the third quarter as senior quarterback Andrew DiDonato (Bridgeville, Pa./South Fayette) fired a 38-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Zach Summy (Manheim, Pa./Manheim Central).

Eight minutes later, DiDonato fired an eight-yard touchdown pass to sophomore tailback Blaine Miller (Lancaster, Pa./Donegal) that cut CMU's lead to 31-21.

CMU pushed its lead back to 38-21 on the first play of the fourth quarter as Phil Pantalone threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Howe on a flea-flicker. However, Grove City countered with an 11-play, 71-yard drive that culminated in Summy's 13-yard touchdown reception from DiDonato with 11:27 remaining. The conversion failed.

After CMU extended the lead to 45-27 on Justin Pratt's 28-yard touchdown run, the Wolverines countered with a pair of touchdowns. Sophomore wingback Clayton Hall (North Canton, Ohio/Jackson) lofted a 16-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Luke O'Hara (New Castle, Pa./Shenango) with 5:39 left. The two-point pass failed.

Then, DiDonato threw a one-yard touchdown pass to sophomore Ed Reith (Pittsburgh, Pa./North Hills) with 1:47 left, bringing the Wolverines to within 45-40.

Grove City's onside kick attempt went out of bounds though and CMU (2-0) successfully ran out the clock.

DiDonato completed 31 of 47 passes for a school-record 382 yards. His five touchdown passes are also a single-game record. DiDonato also ran for 91 yards, giving him a Grove City-record 473 yards of total offense.

Miller caught eight passes for 82 yards while Summy gained 127 yards on seven catches. O'Hara also had six catches while Hall pulled in four balls. Junior wingback A.J. Tapper (Cambridge Springs, Pa./Cambridge Springs) scored Grove City's first touchdown of the day as he caught a 17-yard touchdown pass from DiDonato in the first quarter.

Grove City out-gained CMU 510-400. The Wolverines also accumulated 27 first downs. However, CMU forced three Grove City turnovers. The Tartans turned two of the turnovers into touchdowns in the first half. CMU ran for 317 yards as Pratt gained 157 and Chris Garcia ran for 107.

Junior safety Mark Rossol (Waterville, Ohio/Toledo Christian) recorded a career-high 15 tackles for Grove City while senior defensive tackle Tony Clark (Stow, Ohio/Stow) also had 15 stops. Sophomore linebacker Jason Ferguson (Mineral Ridge, Ohio/Mineral Ridge) had 11 hits and a forced fumble.

Carnegie Mellon owned a 36:02-23:58 edge in time of possession. CMU's average starting field position for the game was the 50-yard line while Grove City's was its own 22. CMU also converted nine of 15 third downs while the Wolverines converted three of eight opportunities.

Grove City's cumulative 398 yards passing is a school record, as are the combined six touchdown passes.

The Wolverines will visit Bethany next Saturday night at 7 p.m. in the Presidents' Athletic Conference opener for both teams.

Box Score

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