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September 19, 2009

Wolverines roll past Bethany, 35-14

BETHANY, W. Va. -- The Grove City College offense amassed 447 total yards and 28 first downs while the Wolverine defense intercepted four passes Saturday night as Grove City opened Presidents' Athletic Conference play with a 35-14 victory over host Bethany in the first-ever night game at Bison Stadium. It is Grove City's 12th win against Bethany in the last 13 seasons.

Grove City (1-2, 1-0 PAC) jumped out to a 21-0 lead by halftime before sealing the win in the second half. The Wolverines broke through with 13:31 left in the second quarter as sophomore tailback Blaine Miller (Lancaster, Pa./Donegal) bulled into the end zone from the 1. Miller's run capped a 10-play, 86-yard drive.

The Wolverines gained possession after junior safety Butch Kriger (Pittsburgh, Pa./Montour) intercepted a Bethany pass at the goal line and returned it to the 14.

Later in the quarter, Kriger's 28-yard punt return gave Grove City possession at its own 43. Eight plays later, senior quarterback Andrew DiDonato (Bridgeville, Pa./South Fayette) fired an 18-yard touchdown to sophomore wide receiver Will McCoy (Newark, Ohio/Newark). Junior Craig Bicehouse (Prospect, Pa./Slippery Rock) added the conversion.

Grove City pushed the lead to 21-0 with 1:17 left in the half as DiDonato fired a 10-yard scoring pass to McCoy on third-and-goal. The touchdown capped a 14-play, 64-yard drive that consumed six minutes.

Bethany opened the second half with an 80-yard drive that ended with Eric Walker's one-yard touchdown run. However, Grove City answered with a 10-play, 60-yard march that DiDonato finished with a two-yard bootleg into the end zone. The conversion failed, keeping Grove City's lead at 27-7.

After Bethany's Matt Cruse caught a nine-yard touchdown pass from Chad Smith with 13 seconds left in the third quarter, Grove City closed the scoring with Miller's second one-yard touchdown plunge of the night. Junior Luke O'Hara (New Castle, Pa./Shenango) caught the two-point pass from DiDonato.

Grove City's defense then slammed the door on Bethany by intercepting passes on each of the next three possessions. Junior safety Mark Rossol (Waterville, Ohio/Toledo Christian) picked off his second pass of the season with 9:29 left in the game. Moments later, after a Grove City fumble, senior cornerback Randy Santina (Elizabeth, Pa./Elizabeth-Forward) intercepted a Chad Smith pass in the end zone.

Santina ended Bethany's final threat with 4:29 left with his second interception of the quarter.

DiDonato completed 22 of 32 attempts for 240 yards. He also ran for 61 yards. Miller led all rushers with 91 yards, helping Grove City amass a season-high 207 rushing yards. The Wolverines converted 9 of 12 third-down situations and owned a 12-minute edge in time of possession. Grove City had the ball for 12:42 of the fourth quarter.

McCoy and O'Hara each had four catches for 62 and 32 yards, respectively. Sophomore wingback Clayton Hall (North Canton, Ohio/Jackson), senior tight end Chris Rich (Mount Airy, Md./Linganore) and junior wide receiver Zach Summy (Manheim, Pa./Manheim Central) all had three catches each.

Santina, sophomore linebacker Tim Irwin (Flemington, N.J./Hunterdon Central) and senior linebacker Chris Joseph (Gibsonia, Pa./Pine-Richland) all had seven tackles each. Sophomore defensive end Zack Patterson (McDonald, Pa./South Fayette) had a sack and a forced fumble for the Wolverines.

Smith threw for 279 yards on 29-of-48 accuracy. Cruse caught seven passes for 82 yards.

It is the 99th career win for Grove City head coach Chris Smith. The Wolverines are now 7-0 when facing Bethany in its PAC opener.

Grove City will host Washington & Jefferson (3-0, 1-0 PAC) next Saturday night at Robert E. Thorn Field in PAC action. Kickoff is 7 p.m.

Box Score

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