Grove City College Sports Information Office
A balanced offensive attack and a pair of fourth quarter takeaways by the Wolverine defense helped lift the Grove City College football team to a 31-24 Homecoming victory Saturday afternoon over previously-undefeated Washington & Jefferson (4-1, 4-1 PAC) before an overflow crowd at Robert E. Thorn Field.
Saturday's win vaults Grove City (5-0, 5-0 PAC) into sole possession of first place in the conference and into the national DIII rankings.
Grove City trailed 24-17 entering the fourth quarter but surged ahead as junior quarterback Logan Pfeuffer (Venetia, Pa./Peters Township) fired a pair of touchdown passes to senior wide receiver Scott Fraser (Butler, Pa./Knoch). Pfeuffer's 24-yard strike to Fraser tied the game at 24 with 12:55 left
Grove City then forced a W&J punt as sophomore linebacker Ben Bladel (Coraopolis, Pa./Moon) sacked quarterback Jake Pugh on third down. Following a punt, the Wolverines moved 67 yards in 10 plays to take the lead. Pfeuffer's five-yard touchdown pass to Fraser gave Grove City a 31-24 lead with 5:23 remaining in the game.
Pfeuffer's 36-yard pass to freshman wide receiver Daniel Sullivan (Simsbury, Conn./Simsbury) gave Grove City a first down at the W&J 12, setting up the go-ahead score.
W&J drove to the Grove City 18 on its subsequent possession. However, junior defensive end Bryce Spolnik (McDonald, Pa./South Fayette) stripped Pugh from behind and sophomore end Jordan Karczewski (Monaca, Pa./Central Valley) recovered the fumble at the Wolverines' 22.
Grove City punted with 11 seconds remaining. W&J drove to midfield, giving Pugh a chance to throw to the end zone. Senior safety Dominic Magliocco (McKees Rocks, Pa./Montour) intercepted Pugh's heave at the 2, clinching the win
W&J took a 3-0 lead midway through the first quarter on Ricky Hunter's 29-yard field goal. Grove City then grabbed its first lead with 11:11 left in the half as Pfeuffer fired a six-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Ryan Heckathorn (Beaver Falls, Pa./Blackhawk). Junior running back Nico Flati (Aliquippa, Pa./West Allegheny) put the Wolverines in scoring position with a 24-yard run to the W&J 14 on third down.
Senior running back Clayton Parrish (Mercer, Pa./West Middlesex) later slammed in from two yards out with 2:53 left in the half, pushing the lead to 14-3. W&J scored 51 seconds later, though, on John Peduzzi's 22-yard touchdown catch.
W&J then reclaimed a 17-14 lead on the opening drive of the second half as Peduzzi caught a 29-yard touchdown pass from Pugh. Grove City tied it on its next drive, though, as sophomore kicker Caleb Kuechly (West Chester, Ohio/Mars Hill) booted a career-best 41-yard field goal. That capped an 11-play drive that used 6:09.
Pfeuffer completed 13 of 22 passes for 185 yards and three touchdowns. Fraser had eight catches for 99 yards. Heckathorn had three catches for 40 yards. He also went over the 1,000-yard mark for his career and now has 1,029 receiving yards.
Flati ran for 120 yards on 32 carries. He recorded his eighth career 100-yard game. Flati leads the league with 486 rushing yards.
Senior running back Joey Guida (Allentown, Pa./Parkland) added 56 yards on six carries, helping Grove City amass 199 rushing yards on 47 attempts. W&J entered the game allowing only 86.8 rushing yards per game.
Sophomore cornerback Boden Davidson (Scottsdale, Ariz./Scottsdale Christian) led the defense with 11 tackles. Magliocco had seven stops. Spolnik and graduate student linebacker Ryan Fleming (Bridgeville, Pa./South Fayette) both had two tackles for loss.
Each team had 22 first downs. Grove City went 9 of 15 on third down while W&J went 3 of 9. Grove City amassed a 36:38-23:22 edge in time of possession and a 69-54 edge in total plays. W&J outgained Grove City, 436-384. Pugh completed 29 of 40 passes for 396 yards. Peduzzi caught 13 passes for 202 yards.
Grove City held W&J to 40 rushing yards on 14 attempts.
Grove City is 5-0 for the first time since 1926. The Wolverines begin a two-game road trip next Saturday at Geneva. That conference game will kick off at 3 p.m. in Beaver Falls.