Alfred 35, Grove City 26

#33 R.J. Bowers

Bowers Tips 2,000 Yards

October 31, 1998--Grove City sophomore R.J. Bowers (West Middlesex, PA/West Middlesex) became just the fourth running back in NCAA Division III history to rush for over 2,000 yards in a season on Saturday, but his 224 yards on a school-record 43 carries and four touchdowns was not enough in a 35-26 loss to visiting Alfred.

Bowers, college football's leading rusher, raised his season totals to 2,111 yards and a Division-III record 32 rushing touchdowns.  The old record of 29 TDs was shared by Grove City's Doug Steiner ('97) and Coe's Carey Bender ('94).  With 192 points on the season, Bowers is just two points shy of the Division III scoring record of 194 points set by Bender in '94.

The 6-1, 230-pound fullback needs 275 yards in the season finale at Muhlenberg next Saturday to break the Division III record for rushing yards in a season (2,385) set by Marietta's Dante Brown in 1996.  With an average of 234.6 yards per game, Bowers needs 279 yards next week to break the NCAA's all-divisions yards per game rushing average of 238.9 yards set by Oklahoma State's Barry Sanders in 1988.  Bowers has rushed for 200 yards or more in seven consecutive games and over 100 yards in 15 straight regular-season contests.

"Another superior effort from R.J. in a hard fought game, " said Wolverine head coach Chris Smith.  "He has put himself in position to break a couple more national records.  Hopefully, we can build on his pursuit as we prepare for next week."

The loss dropped Grove City to 5-4 overall, while Alfred evened its mark at 4-4.

Bowers posted Grove City to an early 7-0 lead with a nine-yard run at the 10:59 mark of the first quarter. Alfred countered five minutes later on a seven-yard tailback option pass from Jeff Colasanti to fullback Steve Rossi to tie the game.

Bowers pushed another score across the goal line at the 2:23 mark of the first quarter, giving the Wolverines a 13-7 advantage. The lead was short-lived as Alfred's George Eason returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown, putting the Saxons’ on top, 14-13.

Grove City put the ball in the end zone again 53 seconds into the second quarter as Bowers went off-tackle for three yards. The two-point conversion play failed. Alfred recaptured the lead at 9:24 of the second quarter when quarterback Todd Zandrowicz connected with split end Tom Callen from 31-yards out. The two also hooked-up on the conversion play to give Alfred a 22-19 advantage.

The Wolverines tried to tie the game with a 40-yard field goal with 14 seconds left in the half, but Genung got a piece of the ball and AU took a 3-point edge into intermission.

On the first drive of the second half, the Saxons took the ball 93 yards on eight plays, punctuated by a 69-yard run by Colasanti. AU added a 24-yard field goal by sophomore Ryan Rambacher on its next possession and took a 32-19 lead into the fourth quarter.

Bowers added his fourth touchdown of the game, a three-yard run, at 9:29 of the fourth quarter.

The Saxons sealed the win with 3:42 left on a 27-yard field goal by Rambacher.

Defensively, senior inside linebacker Casey Creehan (Belle Mead, NJ/Vermillion (SD)) led the Wolverines with 13 total tackles, including one of GCC's five quarterback sacks.  Senior defensive end Mark Furgeson (Gaithersburg, MD/Gaithersburg) and senior outside linebacker Ed Fox (Middletown, PA/Middletown) each had two sacks.  Freshman free safety Mike Kashurba (Latrobe, PA/Greater Latrobe) intercepted his sixth pass of the season, drawing him to within two of the school record (8) set by head coach Chris Smith in 1968.

The Wolverines were outgained in the game, 396 to 321.

Saturday's kick-off at Muhlenberg is slated for 1:00 p.m.


BOWERS GAME-BY-GAME IN 1998:

Date Opponent Att. Yards TDs
Sep. 5 at Wooster 35 127 2
Sep. 12 at Ohio Wesleyan 25 122 1
Sep. 19 BLUFFTON 29 264 4
Sep. 26 at Bethany 37 292 4
Oct. 3 THIEL 30 304 6
Oct. 10 at W&J 38 288 3
Oct. 17 at Waynesburg 33 228 3
Oct. 24 KENYON 38 262 5
Oct. 31 ALFRED 43 224 4
Nov. 7 at Muhlenberg
Totals 308 2111 32

BOWERS RECORDS SET IN 1998:

NCAA Division III Records Set
Season Rushing Touchdowns (32)

School Records Set

Game Rushing Yards (304)
Season Rushing Yards (2,111)
Career Rushing Yards (3,350)
Game All-Purpose Yards (355)
Season All-Purpose Yards (2,677)
Career All-Purpsose Yards (4,703)
Game Touchdowns (6 tie)
Career Touchdowns (46)

PAC Records Set (4 games)
Game Rushing Yards (304)
Season Rushing Yards (1,112)
Season Rushing Yards Per Game (278.0)
Game Touchdowns (6)
Season Touchdowns (16)


GROVE CITY COLLEGE FOOTBALL
FIRST NATIONAL BANK OF PENNSYLVANIA PLAYERS OF THE WEEK vs. Alfred

Final Score
Alfred 35, Grove City 26


OFFENSIVE: LG Oscar Fish (Jr., 6-0/230, Bowerston, OH/Conotton Valley) ... helped pave the way for R.J. Bowers' seventh consecutive 200-yard rushing game ... Coach Smith, "Oscar has played well all season and Saturday he turned in another solid day.  He is a big reason our running game has the chance to dominate each week."

DEFENSIVE: FS Mike Kashurba (Fr., 6-1/190, Latrobe, PA/Greater Latrobe) ... intercepted his sixth pass of the season and added 11 tackles ... Coach Smith, "Mike was in on touchdown saving tackles all afternoon.  He also had a key interception right before halftime.  He has made a big contribution as a freshman."


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