W&J Downs GCC, 33-10
GROVE CITY, PA, October 9, 1999--A quartet of rangy Washington & Jefferson wideouts combined for 13 receptions and 242 yards as the Presidents defeated Grove City, 33-10, at Thorn Field.
The Presidents were able to take advantage of the decided size advantage their receivers had on the Grove City secondary. The Wolverines were yielding an average of 3.5 inches per man in the defensive backfield to the foursome of Dave Armitage, Todd Fry, Todd Matijevich and Ryan Silvis. Freshman quarterback Brian Dawson riddled the Wolverine secondary by completing 16 of his first 20 pass attempts. Dawson finished with 267 yards passing.
"He gets better every game," first-year W&J head coach John Banaszak said about Dawson. "He understands the offense a little better each week. We give him more plays each week and hes responded."
Meanwhile, Grove City struggled to keep a healthy body under center. Starting quarterback Steve Lacinski (New Kensington, PA/Valley) suffered a labral tear in his left shoulder early in the second quarter. Eight minutes later, freshman John Stella (Valencia, PA/Mars) sprained his right ankle. Without ever taking a collegiate snap, third-string freshman Justin Coxson (New Brighton, PA/New Brighton) was thrust into the lineup. Coxson completed four passes on the afternoon, gaining 45 yards.
"It was a tough day," Wolverine head coach Chris Smith lamented. "We were down to our third quarterback in the first half. I give Justin a lot of credit. He gave us great effort in a very stressful situation. Were happy for what Justin did."
W&Js aerial assault began on the games first possession. Dawson completed his first four pass attempts, including a key ten-yard strike to Silvis on fourth-and-five inside the GCC 25. Fullback Chris Pushic finished the nine-play drive by bulling his way to the one, fumbling, and then recovering the ball in the end zone.
Grove City counter-punched quickly, moving the ball 34 yards after a short kickoff. Fullback R.J. Bowers (West Middlesex, PA/West Middlesex) accounted for 24 of the yards on the drive. Kicker Ben Shreve (Union City, PA/Union City) capped it with a career-long 41-yard field goal.
The teams exchanged punts before the President offense efficiently moved the ball down the field, covering 73 yards in 2:34. Dawson connected with Armitage on a 15-yard fade pattern to polish off the drive. Dawsons right arm was responsible for 62 of the yards.
"I think they had a lot of success because they execute extremely well," Smith said. "Their quarterback has great touch and he should be commended for that."
The Wolverines appeared to be on their way to trimming the President lead after Bowers and Jeremy Moore (Leechburg, PA/Kiski Area) had successive first down runs. However, Lacinski fumbled the ball on an option play and W&J defensive end Les Strader recovered. It was on this play that Lacinski suffered the injury.
The Presidents capitalized on the Wolverine mistake, as Dawson threw the second of his two touchdown passes, this one a four-yarder to Pushic. Jonathan Kralics third PAT put the visitors ahead, 21-3.
"We had a couple of miscommunications in key situations and we turned the ball over. You can't do that and expect to win a big football game," Smith said.
Behind Stella, the Wolverines once again moved the ball down the field. On third-and-one, Stella bobbled the snap and was sacked for a two-yard loss by Terry Dunbar. Bowers was stuffed for no gain on fourth-and-three after Stella left with the ankle injury. Bowers finished the day with 158 yards on 32 carries, despite injured ribs. It was the 22nd straight game that Bowers rushed for at least 100 yards. Bowers entered the game averaging 201 yards per contest. Unlike previous GCC opponents, the Presidents played their basic defense, rather than using unconventional schemes.
"This week was the most confident that Ive come into the Grove City game since Ive been here," Banaszak said. "We just played our base defense. We wanted to stay with our scheme of things. Weve tried, in the past, to bring in something new and it didnt work. This year, we said, Were playing our defense, and if they beat us, then theyre the better football team. Our kids took care of what they had to do defensively."
A pair of Jon Pons touchdown runs put the Presidents ahead, 33-3, before Grove City picked up its only touchdown of the game. Coxson finished the 17-play, 62-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown run.
Outside linebacker Tony Kunczewski (Irwin, PA/ Penn Trafford) recorded 11 tackles, while Burt Romanoff (Washington, PA/Trinity) picked up a sack. The Wolverines ran 16 more plays than the Presidents, but were outgained, 479-243.
Next week, Grove City celebrates Homecoming against another PAC co-champion, Waynesburg (4-1, 2-0). Kickoff is slated for 1:30 p.m.
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