Grove City 40, Bluffton 0

September 19, 1998--
Sophomore fullback R.J. Bowers (West Middlesex, PA/West Middlesex) garnered a school-record 264 yards on 29 carries as Grove City College (1-2) blanked visiting Bluffton College (1-2), 40-0, in the Wolverine home opener at Thorn Field. 

Bowers’s performance broke Doug Steiner’s 257-yard outburst against Thiel College in 1996.

"R.J. had a super day," Wolverine head coach Chris Smith said. "He set a school record which I didn’t think would be broken this quickly. Twenty-nine carries for 264 yards. That’s real close to ten yards a carry, at 29 carries—that’s unbelievable."

An intense week of practice following two season-opening losses also prepared the Wolverines for the game.

"We had more intense practices this week," Smith continued. "We wanted to face (game speed) through the week so that on Saturday, it would be something we were used to."

Grove City’s defense also responded to the intense workouts by posting its first shutout since a 34-0 win over Oberlin in 1992. The Wolverine defense limited Beaver tailback Tyson Goings to 13 yards on 16 carries. Goings had 402 yards through Bluffton’s first two games. Grove City’s defense limited Bluffton to 2.8 yards per play and nine first downs.  The Wolverines out-gained the Beavers in total offense, 522 to 132.

On the Wolverines’ second play from scrimmage, Bowers notched his first score of the game as he rambled off left tackle for 62 yards 50 seconds into the game. Following a Beaver punt, Grove City used a four-play, 58-yard drive capped by a 46-yard Bowers scamper to give them a 13-0 lead.

With a pair of big plays accounting for their first two scores, the Wolverines then hammered out a nine-play drive in the second quarter. Grove City freshman Mike Orlando (Wickliffe, OH/Wickliffe) recovered a fumbled punt return at GC’s 29. With freshman John Napotnik (Sharpsville, PA/Sharpsville) under center, the Wolverines marched down the field in 4:21 with Bowers waltzing into the endzone at the 12:08 mark.

Late in the first half, sophomore quarterback Steve Lacinski (New Kensington, PA/Valley) fired a 41-yard strike to junior Garret Schmidt (Irwin, PA/Penn Trafford) in the endzone. Sophomore Ben Shreve’s (Union City, PA/Union City) third PAT of the half stretched the lead to 27-0 at intermission.

Grove City’s offense resumed its dominance in the third quarter. A 17-yard run from senior Aaron Kaiser (Cortland, OH/Lakeview) set up Bowers’s fourth trip to the endzone midway through the quarter.

"The offensive line’s been working hard all week," Bowers said. "This week we had some tough practices and we just decided we were going to get the job done. We didn’t get the win at Wooster, and when we went to Ohio Wesleyan, we were a little down and we lost a game we should’ve won. We were determined to get the job done and we came out and did a great job."

Meanwhile, the Wolverine defense shackled the Bluffton attack. Senior defensive end Mark Furgeson (Gaithersburg, MD/Gaithersburg) sacked quarterback Joel Parrett twice on the day, while senior linebackers Corey Sarosy (Fairport Harbor, OH/Perry) and Casey Creehan (Belle Mead, NJ/Vermillion (SD)) had nine and eight tackles, respectively. Junior strong safety Tony Kunczewski (Irwin, PA/Penn Trafford) and freshman DB Josh Sachleben (Ringtown, PA/North Schuylkill) each intercepted a pass.   Bluffton converted only 2 of 12 third down opportunities and punted on eight occasions. 

Grove City begins its Presidents' Athletic Conference title defense next Saturday, September 26, at Bethany. Game time is set for 1:30 p.m.


Final Score
Grove City 40, Bluffton 0

OFFENSIVE: R.J. Bowers (West Middlesex, PA/West Middlesex) ... sophomore fullback ...  6-1, 230 ... rushed for a school-record 264 yards on 29 carries ... scored on touchdown runs of 62, 46, 2 and 6 yards ... Coach Smith, "R.J. set a school record that I thought would stand for a long time.  He averaged almost 10 yards per carries on 29 attempts.  That's amazing!"

DEFENSIVE: Jeremy Horton (Canton, OH/GlenOak) ... junior nose tackle ...  6-0, 270 ... recorded seven tackles, including four solos and one sack ... Coach Smith, "Jeremy played nose tackle as well as it has been played in years.  He was a big factor in shutting down Bluffton's running attack."

SPECIAL TEAMS: Aaron Kaiser (Cortland, OH/Lakeview) ... senior ... 5-9, 200 ... Adam Corbett (Champion, OH/Champion) ... freshman ... 6-0, 205.

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