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November 14, 2009


GREENVILLE, Pa. -- The Grove City College football team rallied from a 17-0 fourth-quarter deficit to capture the coveted Mercer County Cup Saturday afternoon with a 31-24 double-overtime victory over host Thiel in Presidents' Athletic Conference action at Alumni Stadium. Grove City finishes the season 4-2 in the PAC and 5-5 overall. It is Grove City's third straight win overall and third straight in the Cup series.

In the second overtime, Grove City broke a 24-24 tie as senior quarterback Andrew DiDonato (Bridgeville, Pa./South Fayette) fired a 25-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Luke O'Hara (New Castle, Pa./Shenango). Thiel drove to the Grove City 4 on its overtime possession. But on fourth down, junior free safety Mark Rossol (Waterville, Ohio/Toledo Christian) batted down a pass in the end zone to clinch the win.

Grove City trailed 17-0 in the fourth quarter before launching its furious comeback. DiDonato scored on a three-yard run with 12:30 remaining in regulation to cap a 12-play, 86-yard drive. On Thiel's subsequent possession, Grove City senior safety Vance Keirsey (Mineral Ridge, Ohio/Mineral Ridge) intercepted a deflected pass at the Grove City 40 and returned it 54 yards to the Thiel 6.

Grove City slashed the lead to 17-14 on the first play of the possession as DiDonato bootlegged, then fired a six-yard touchdown pass to junior Zach Summy (Manheim, Pa./Manheim Central).

Following a Thiel punt that pinned the Wolverines at their own 5, Grove City embarked on a game-tying 86-yard drive. Junior kicker Craig Bicehouse (Prospect, Pa./Slippery Rock) tied the game with a 34-yard field goal with just 2:43 remaining.

Thiel drove downfield on its final possession of regulation and reached the Wolverines' 2. However, kicker Mike Danko missed a 19-yard field goal as time expired, sending the game to overtime.

Thiel took a 24-17 lead in the first overtime as Willie Bova tossed a seven-yard touchdown pass to Brendan Taylor. Grove City answered though, as DiDonato raced into the end zone from 11 yards out. Bicehouse's conversion tied the game at 24.

DiDonato finished the game with 93 yards rushing on 13 attempts. He also completed 32 of 43 passes for 279 yards. O'Hara caught a career-high 12 passes for 140 yards while sophomore tailback Blaine Miller (Mount Joy, Pa./Donegal) caught seven passes for 37 yards.

Thiel led 17-0 at halftime after taking advantage of three Grove City turnovers. Dan Hess put Thiel up 7-0 in the first quarter with a one-yard run. John Madeline kicked a 33-yard field goal with six seconds left in the first quarter to extend the lead to 10-0. Thiel's lead reached 17-0 at the 9:15 mark of the second quarter as Hess scored from three yards out.

Bova threw for 267 yards on 33-of-45 accuracy.  Taylor caught 10 passes for 75 yards while Ross Gargano had eight catches for 69 yards.

Defensively, sophomore cornerback Aaron Palmieri (Cranberry Township, Pa./Seneca Valley) led Grove City 13 tackles while sophomore linebacker Jason Ferguson (Mineral Ridge, Ohio/Mineral Ridge) recorded a dozen stops.

Sophomore linebacker Marc Shamley (Orlando, Fla./Pine Castle Christian) recorded two sacks while sophomore linebacker Vince Angelo (Lower Burrell, Pa./Burrell) and senior Chris Joseph (Gibsonia, Pa./Pine-Richland) also had sacks. Grove City limited Thiel to 73 rushing yards on 38 attempts.

For the game, Grove City outgained Thiel, 390-340.

Grove City is now 4-4 all-time in overtime, including a 3-1 mark on the road. Thiel and Grove City had never played an overtime game before. Grove City now leads the Cup series 17-9, including a 3-2 mark at Alumni Stadium.

DiDonato finished the season with a school-record 2,466 passing yards and 18 touchdowns. His 2,994 yards of total offense this season are also a single-season Grove City record. He finishes his career with a Grove City-record 7,509 passing yards and 49 touchdown passes.

Saturday's game is the final game for Grove City's 13 seniors: DiDonato, Keirsey, Joseph, linebacker Phil Caruso (Rock Creek, Ohio/Jefferson), wide receiver Adam Chakot (Indiana, Pa./Indiana), defensive tackle Tony Clark (Stow, Ohio/Stow), guard David Gernhard (Lyme, N.H./Thetford Academy, Vt.), linebacker James Jennings (Twinsburg, Ohio/Twinsburg), center Justin Macella (Lowellville, Ohio/Lowellville), tight end Chris Rich (Mount Airy, Md./Linganore), cornerback Randy Santina (Elizabeth, Pa./Elizabeth Forward), guard Aaron Talbott (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park) and tackle Mike Zorch (Greensburg, Pa./Latrobe).

Box Score

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