CLINCHED! Wolverines win first-ever NCAA playoff berth

Grove City College Sports Information

The Grove City College football team is heading to the NCAA Division III Tournament!

Led by a defense that recorded six sacks and scored on an interception return, game-changing special teams play and an offense that generated 440 total yards, the Wolverines rolled to a 56-14 Senior Day win over Bethany in Presidents' Athletic Conference action at Robert E. Thorn Field.

The win gives No. 21 Grove City (9-0) a share of the conference title. The win also gives Grove City the conference's automatic berth in the NCAA playoffs as Grove City owns tiebreakers over the two teams that could forge a tie for the title, Carnegie Mellon and Case Western Reserve. It is Grove City's first-ever NCAA playoff berth.

Grove City broke open the game with 28 points in a three-minute span of the third quarter. The Wolverines opened the second half with a nine-play, 50-yard drive that senior running back Clayton Parrish (Mercer, Pa./West Middlesex) capped at the 10:38 mark with a five-yard touchdown run.

The drive began at midfield after senior running back Joey Guida (Allentown, Pa./Parkland) returned the third quarter kickoff 32 yards to the 50. 

Sixty-eight seconds after Parrish's score, junior running back Nico Flati (Aliquippa, Pa./West Allegheny) slammed in from the 1. Grove City gained possession at the Bethany 11 after sophomore linebacker Ben Bladel (Coraopolis, Pa./Moon) recovered an errant pitch at the 15 and returned the ball to the 11.

On the next scrimmage play, sophomore cornerback Boden Davidson (Scottsdale, Ariz./Scottsdale Christian) intercepted a deflected Goffe pass and returned it 28 yards for a touchdown, pushing the lead to 42-7 with 9:18 remaining in the third quarter.

Grove City forced a punt on Bethany's next possession. Bladel broke through the line, blocked the kick and returned the loose ball five yards for a touchdown.

In the fourth quarter, senior quarterback Ayden Gutierrez (Morrisdale, Pa./West Branch) fired an eight-yard touchdown pass to sophomore wide receiver Gavin Mauger (Cortland, Ohio/Lakeview) with 10:29 remaining. 

Flati opened the scoring with 10;46 left in the first quarter with a four-yard run. The lead grew to 14-0 at the 3:40 mark as junior quarterback Logan Pfeuffer (Venetia, Pa./Peters Township) fired a 17-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Ryan Heckathorn (Beaver Falls, Pa./Blackhawk). Sophomore kicker Caleb Kuechly (West Chester, Ohio/Mars Hill) added the second of his seven conversions.

Parrish's eight-yard touchdown run with 4:48 left in the half gave Grove City a 21-7 lead.

Flati finished with 109 yards on 18 carries. Parrish gained 67 yards on eight attempts while senior Joe DeLuca (Mars, Pa./Mars) added 50 yards on a career-high 16 attempts. Grove City churned out 297 rushing yards. 

Pfeuffer completed 6 of 15 attempts for 131 yards. Senior Scott Fraser (Butler, Pa./Knoch) had four receptions for 102 yards.

Bladel and junior defensive end Bryce Spolnik (McDonald, Pa./South Fayette) both had two sacks. Sophomore linebacker Jack Jollie (Jeannette, Pa./Penn Trafford) posted a sack while junior nose tackle Kobe Bonanno (New Bethlehem, Pa./Redbank Valley) and sophomore end Jordan Karczewski (Monaca, Pa./Central Valley) shared a sack.

Jollie, graduate student linebacker Ryan Fleming (Bridgeville, Pa./South Fayette) and senior safety Dominic Magliocco (McKees Rocks, Pa./Montour) all had seven total tackles. 

Grove City held Bethany to 51 rushing yards and 247 total yards. Goffe completed 14 of 20 passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns. Tre Dean and Tim Mickens both caught touchdown passes. Charlie Mills ran for 56 yards on 13 carries.

Bethany went 5 of 13 on third down while Grove City converted 11 of 15 third down opportunities. Grove City held a 31:57-28:03 edge in time of possession. The Wolverines held the ball for 20:28 in the second half, going 9 of 10 on third down over the final two quarters. The Wolverines did not punt.

Bladel's blocked punt return is the first for Grove City since 2003, when Gene Iannuzzi accomplished the feat late in the fourth quarter of a 16-15 win at Thiel in the Mercer County Cup game.

Davidson is the second Grove City player to return an interception for a touchdown this season. Senior linebacker Cole DeFillippo (Jeannette, Pa./Penn Trafford) returned a pick 36 yards for a touchdown three weeks ago at Geneva.

Grove City is 9-0 for the first time in program history. The Wolverines won the conference title outright in 1997, then shared the crown with Washington & Jefferson and Waynesburg in 1998.

The Wolverines will have the conference's open date next Saturday. Grove City concludes the regular season November 11 at Thiel. Kickoff will be 1 p.m. for the prestigious Mercer County Cup. 

For more about athletics at Grove City College, visit

CLINCHED! Wolverines win first-ever NCAA playoff berth

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