Wolverines Win Homecoming Thriller,
GROVE CITY, PA, October 16, 1999--Three hundred sixty-four days and 360 degrees later, the Grove City Wolverines erased memories of last years heartbreaking loss to Waynesburg by coming from 17 points behind to dump the Yellow Jackets, 28-24, on Homecoming at Thorn Field.
Last season, Waynesburg rallied from a 13-point fourth-quarter margin to pull out a 33-26 win at Waynesburg. This year, the Wolverines used three second-half touchdown plunges from fullback R.J. Bowers (West Middlesex, PA/West Middlesex) to erase the 17-point bulge. However, it was the Wolverines defense and special teams that provided the big plays in the second half.
Leading 24-7 at halftime, the Yellow Jackets had a drive stall at midfield when quarterback Jack Becker was intercepted by Grove City cornerback Brock McCullough (Spruce, PA/Purchase Line). McCullough ran the interception back to the Waynesburg 42. The Wolverines then methodically consumed the 42 yards with an 11-play drive that ate up six minutes of clock. Bowers waltzed into the end zone to cut the lead to 24-14 after Ben Shreves (Union City, PA/Union City) extra point.
Waynesburg countered, however, overcoming a third-and-20 situation when Becker connected with Orlando Magruder for a 21-yard gain. A 34-yard scamper by Magruder gave Waynesburg a first down at the Grove City 15. Grove Citys defense held, forcing a 28-yard field goal attempt. Grove Citys Josh Broerman (Grove City, PA/Grove City) blocked Brian Cences kick, keeping the margin at ten. Broerman added a career-high six tackles, including two for loss.
"Id like to think that I could keep this up the rest of the season," Broerman said. "Thats what Im shooting for."
Grove City could not dent the lead, however, until the 4:12 mark of the fourth quarter. On third-and-11, quarterback Steve Lacinski (New Kensington, PA/Valley) hit Jeremy Moore (Leechburg, PA/Kiski) on a 26-yard pass. Bowers then accounted for the final 25 yards of the drive to slash the lead to three. Bowers finished with 173 yards rushing, the 23rd consecutive game in which he has rushed for at least 100 yards. Lacinski, meanwhile, overcame long odds to play in Saturdays game. Seven days prior, Lacinski suffered a left shoulder injury that could have been season-ending. However, the junior signal-caller came off the bench to complete 3-of-6 passes for 34 yards.
"I went to the doctor Friday and they took an X-ray," Lacinski said. "They said Everything looks fine and as long as you have mobility, you can go. I went in there and felt fine. Coach gave me the opportunity to play, which I greatly appreciate, and we pulled out a big win today."
"It was a psychological effectit was a positive," Smith said in reference to Lacinskis return. "His presence and his leadership were big, big factors."
After regaining possession, the Yellow Jackets were unable to melt the remaining four minutes. On another third-and-five, Becker lined up in the shotgun formation. The center snap went over Beckers head, causing an 11-yard loss. Dan Henslers line-drive 29-yard punt was fielded by Mike Kashurba (Latrobe, PA/Greater Latrobe) at the Grove City 43. Kashurba raced 56 yards along the sideline to the one with 1:16 left.
"I saw a bunch of red shirts and I just followed them all the way towards the goal line," Kashurba said.
"The punt return was huge, obviously," Smith said. "That made play selection pretty easy. We got the ball on the one-yard line and it wasnt hard to figure out who to give the ball to."
Bowerss fourth touchdown of the afternoon put GCC ahead, 28-24. The score was Bowerss 15th touchdown of the season and 63rd of his career. His 386 points are tied for the 23rd-highest total in NCAA history (all divisions).
Waynesburg efficiently moved the ball down the field and had the ball at Grove Citys 14 with nine seconds left. Becker attempted a fade pass to the left corner of the end zone, but McCullough hauled in the interception, his third of the afternoon.
"I was definitely expecting the fade route," McCullough said. "I didnt really know if theyd come my way since I had the two picks earlier. I was fortunate enough to have them test me."
The three picks ties the school record shared by several players, including head coach Chris Smith.
"Great players make great plays and I think Brock McCullough is a great defensive back," Smith said.
Inside linebacker Adam Corbett (Champion, OH/Champion) led Grove Citys defense with 15 tackles. Kashurba added ten, while linebacker Tony Kunczewski (Irwin, PA/Penn Trafford) also had ten tackles, along with a sack. In addition to his four extra points, Shreve averaged 45 yards per punt, including a career-best 63-yarder. The Wolverines were outgained, 480-194. Waynesburg ran for 292 yards, led by Mike Stouts 116. Only ten of Stouts yards came in the second half.
"It was a great comeback. It was exciting, and it really helps make the entire Homecoming weekend even more special," Smith, a 1972 GCC grad, said.
Next week, the Wolverines travel to Kenyon. Kickoff is set for 1:30 pm.
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