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WORKING OVERTIME
R.J. Bowers scored the game-winning touchdown on his school-record 46th carry of the afternoon.  His 169 yards rushing made him the first player in NCAA Division III history to rush for 2,000 yards in two different seasons.

GCC Beats Mules in OT, 31-24

Game Stats

GROVE CITY, PA, November 6, 1999--R.J. Bowers (West Middlesex, PA/West Middlesex) capped another record-breaking day with a 13-yard touchdown run in overtime, giving Grove City a 31-24 win over visiting Muhlenberg, who won last year's meeting in OT, 34-31.

The victory marked the Wolverines' fourth in a row and sixth in their last seven games.  Grove City closed the regular season at 6-4 overall, while Muhlenberg fell to 5-4 with one game to play.

Bowers's 13-yard blast into the end zone came on the first possession of OT.  The Mules, who won the toss and elected defense to start the extra period, then moved the ball to Grove City’s eight.  On fourth-and-goal, Mule QB Michael McCabe attempted a fade pass to wideout Kenyamo McFarlane.  Wolverine cornerback Brock McCullough (Spruce, PA/Purchase Line) knocked the pass away, sealing the non-conference victory.  Last year, McCabe and McFarlane connected on a 25-yard game-winning touchdown.

“Brock’s a great defensive back,” 16th-year head coach Chris Smith said.  “We’ve known that since last year.  He’s been playing well and the best thing about Brock is that he’ll be back next year.”

Bowers, who set a new school record with 46 carries, finished the day with 169 yards.  His junior season ends with 2,098 yards rushing.  He is the first player in NCAA Division III history to rush for 2,000 yards in two different seasons.  Bowers rushed for 2,283 yards last year.  The All-American became Division III's second all-time leading rusher with 5,620 career yards.  He moved into 11th-place on the NCAA's all-divisions career rushing list, ahead of Southern California's Charles White (5,598). 

“When you hit overtime, you got to just ram it down their throat,” Bowers said.  “When our back’s against the wall like that, I want to take charge and plug it into the end zone.”

The Senior-Parent’s Day crowd saw the Mules move the ball 80 yards in 1:29 on the game’s first possession.  McCabe completed an 18-yard scoring strike to Anthony Wolfsohn after Wolfsohn rambled 40 yards on the previous play.

After a Bowers fumble and a subsequent punt from Muhlenberg, Grove City countered with a 17-play (all runs), 80-yard drive that consumed nearly nine minutes.  Quarterback Steve Lacinski (New Kensington, PA/Valley) bootlegged nine yards on 3rd-and-eight for his first rushing touchdown of the season, knotting the game at seven.

Muhlenberg had an opportunity to re-take the lead, but cornerback Adam Booth (North Canton, OH/Uniontown Lake) intercepted McCabe in the end zone, thwarting the drive.

The Wolverines took their first lead of the afternoon with 2:02 left in the first half.  The drive nearly stalled at midfield, but Jack Gillespie’s (Imperial, PA/Montour) 22-yard sprint on third-and-five kept it alive.  Bowers capped the drive with a one-yard touchdown plunge.

“(Muhlenberg) played great defense against us,” Smith said.  “They’re a good football team.” 

Grove City extended the lead to 17-7 on Ben Shreve’s (Union City, PA/Union City) 32-yard field goal seven minutes into the third quarter, thanks to a big play from the Wolverine defense.  Grove City’s first drive of the second half ended at the Wolverine forty.  However, the Mules’ possession lasted only one play as strong safety Josh Sachleben (Ringtown, PA/North Schuylkill) intercepted a McCabe pass, putting the Wolverines in Mule territory.

Muhlenberg’s Joshua Carter quickly trimmed the lead, though.  Carter took Shreve’s kickoff and raced 85 yards for a touchdown, slashing the lead to 17-14.  Carter then caught an eight-yard pass from McCabe late in the third quarter to put Muhlenberg ahead, 21-17. 

The Wolverines began the fourth quarter by opening up the seldom-used passing attack.  Lacinski’s first two attempts fell incomplete, but he connected with senior Garret Schmidt (Irwin, PA/Penn Trafford) on his third atttempt of the period.  Schmidt ran an out-and-up, which caused the Mule cornerback to slip.  Schmidt hauled in the 41-yard bomb to put Grove City back ahead by three.  It was Schmidt’s first touchdown of the season.

“It’s called a wiggle pattern,” Lacinski explained.  “It’s basically an out-and-up.  The reason we run it a lot of times is because the cornerback is biting on the out route.  Schmidy said he was going to be there.  He said, ‘Just give me a shot at it.’  I gave him a little pump fake, the defensive back bit on it, fell down and Garret was wide open down the sidelines.”

With the game tied at 24 following Chris Reed’s field goal for Muhlenberg, the Wolverines had an opportunity to win the game on a 48-yard field goal from Shreve with four seconds left.  Shreve had the distance, but the kick was wide left, forcing overtime.

McCullough led Grove City’s defense with ten tackles.  He also broke up four passes.  Senior outside linebacker Tony Kunczewski (Irwin, PA/Penn Trafford) recorded nine tackles, as well as his fifth sack of the season.  Sachleben also had nine tackles and his first career sack.  Josh Broerman (Grove City/PA/Grove City) also recorded a sack.

The Wolverines opened their season 0-3 before embarking on their winning ways.  The six wins in seven games is Grove City’s best stretch since 1997, when the Wolverines won eight straight.

“The kids played real well,” Smith said.  “I thank them for their efforts and I think the world of them.  They’re the ones that made it possible.  They should be proud of their accomplishment because it’s not easy to go 0-3 and win six of seven.”

The Wolverine seniors who played their final game are cornerback Jeremy Bowers (Hartville, OH/Lake), stalwart guards Oscar Fish (Bowerston, OH/Conotton Valley) and Chris Mullins (Munroe Falls, OH/Stow), nose tackle Jeremy Horton (Canton, OH/GlenOak), Kunczewski, halfback Jeremy Moore (Leechburg, PA/Kiski), outside linebacker Burt Romanoff (Washington, PA/Trinity), Schmidt and linebacker Brian Paul Smith (Cherry Creek, NY/Pine Valley).

“That’s college football,” Smith lamented.  “You don’t keep players forever.  You’d like to.  They turned into great senior leaders for us.”

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