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September 22, 2012

Grove City rallies past Bethany on Homecoming

GROVE CITY, Pa. -- The Grove City College football team erased a pair of sizeable deficits Saturday afternoon to pull out a 44-40 victory over visiting Bethany on Homecoming at Robert E. Thorn Field.

Grove City (2-2, 1-1 Presidents' Athletic Conference) trailed 40-24 entering the fourth quarter before storming back for the win. Earlier, Grove City had trailed 21-0 early in the second quarter before forging a 24-24 tie in the third period.

Senior tailback Shane Kaclik (Mars, Pa./Mars) scored a career-high five touchdowns in the win while also accumulating 121 rushing yards on 31 carries. His one-yard touchdown run with 5:14 left put Grove City ahead for the first time in the game, 44-40.

Defensively, the Wolverines forced four turnovers, including three that directly led to Grove City touchdowns. Junior free safety Joe Diani (West Leechburg, Pa./Leechburg) intercepted two passes and also forced a fumble while senior safety Shawn Mercer (East Liverpool, Ohio/Beaver Local) also picked off a pass.

Bethany quarterback Matt Grimard threw a pair of touchdown passes and also ran for a score to give Bethany a 21-0 lead just 16 minutes into the game. Grove City answered by scoring three straight touchdowns.

Junior quarterback Brian Pell (Streamwood, Ill./Wheaton Academy) opened the scoring by firing a 45-yard touchdown pass to freshman wide receiver Tony Britt (Kent, Ohio/Kent Roosevelt) with 11:41 left in the first half. The conversion failed, keeping the score 21-6.

Diani's forced fumble, which senior defensive end Marc Shamley (Orlando, Fla./Pine Castle Christian) recovered at the Bethany 5, set up Grove City's next score. Kaclik bulled in from the 3 for his first touchdown of the game, cutting the lead to 21-12 with 8:25 left in the half.

Two plays later, Diani intercepted Grimard and returned the ball 13 yards to the Bethany 46. Kaclik quickly converted the takeaway into points by racing 41 yards to the end zone, closing the gap to 21-18.

Bethany closed the first-half scoring with a 33-yard field goal by Justin Evans. Grove City opened the second half with an 11-play, 75-yard touchdown drive, capped by Kaclik's one-yard touchdown plunge on fourth-and-goal with 10:07 left in the quarter. Bethany broke the tie on the extra point, however, as Wyssmy Despagne blocked the kick and Eddie Chance returned it for a defensive two-point conversion.

Bethany (0-3, 0-1 PAC) extended the lead to 33-24 on the subsequent possession as Grimard threw a 41-yard touchdown pass to Matt Blinn. Following a Grove City three-and-out, Grimard tossed a 19-yard touchdown pass to Ed Holmes with 4:18 left in the third quarter.

Grove City answered with a 14-play, 79-yard drive that extended into the early portion of the fourth quarter. Kaclik's one-yard touchdown run with 13:36 remaining trimmed the lead to 40-30. The two-point conversion failed.

The Wolverine defense forced a punt after just three plays. Pell scored from the 1 with 9:22 left, closing a four-play, 45-yard drive. Senior Kurt Devlin (Pittsburgh, Pa./North Allegheny) drilled the extra point, closing the deficit to 40-37.

Diani's second interception gave Grove City possession at the Bethany 38 with eight minutes left. Six plays later, Kaclik scored his fifth touchdown and Devlin added the extra point.

Bethany again punted after three plays and Pell's six-yard scramble to Bethany's 28 on fourth-and-four sealed the win.

Grove City held Bethany to minus-7 yards and no first downs in the fourth quarter.

Pell finished the game 9 of 21 for 144 yards. Senior Dustin Anewalt (Cranberry Township, Pa./Seneca Valley) caught three passes for 19 yards while Britt had two catches for 68 yards. Kaclik also caught two balls for 27 yards.

Defensively, sophomore linebacker Jason Skyrm (Harleysville, Pa./Souderton) led Grove City with 11 tackles and 1.5 quarterback sacks. Senior linebacker Jason Ferguson (Mineral Ridge, Ohio/Mineral Ridge) had a half sack. Junior cornerback Chris Gibbs (Akron, Ohio/Revere) recorded nine tackles.

Grimard completed 25 of 33 passes for 289 yards. Holmes had nine catches for 98 yards. The Wolverines held Bethany to 57 rushing yards on 26 attempts.

Bethany outgained Grove City 346-318. The Wolverines held a 21-19 edge in first downs. Grove City also held a 32:42-27:18 advantage in time of possession. The Wolverines went 4 for 4 on fourth down. All four conversions came in the second half.

Grove City has won 14 of its last 16 meetings with Bethany, including the last eight at Thorn Field. Grove City is 22-7 against Bethany since the Wolverines joined the PAC in 1984.

Saturday's game marked the first time that Grove City has ever won despite giving up 40 points in a game.

The Wolverines will visit Westminster next Saturday at 1 p.m. in conference action.

Box Score

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