The Grove City College football team earned the first postseason victory in the 124-year history of the program Saturday afternoon by earning a 56-48 win over visiting Morrisville State in the 2018 Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III James Lynah Bowl at Robert E. Thorn Field. The Wolverines conclude the season 8-3 overall, having won each of their final seven games this season.
Junior running back Wesley Schools (Port Jervis, N.Y./Port Jervis) earned the game's Most Valuable Player award after charging through the Morrisville State defense on a Grove City single-game record 359 rushing yards and five touchdowns. He carried the ball 58 times, which is one attempt shy of the NCAA Division III single-game record.
Overall, the Wolverines ran for 420 yards and finished with 610 yards of total offense. Freshman quarterback Josh Ehst (Douglassville, Pa./Daniel Boone) completed 11 of 15 passes for 190 yards and two touchdowns.
Sophomore wide receiver Cameron Drake (Monaca, Pa./Central Valley) caught both touchdown passes and finished the game with 48 yards on four receptions. Sophomore Cody Gustafson (Shippensburg, Pa./Shippensburg) hauled in seven passes for 142 yards. He finishes the season with 76 receptions, setting Grove City's single-season record.
Grove City executed 80 offensive plays and held possession for 37 minutes, 58 seconds. The Wolverines went 9 for 11 on third down and finished with 32 first downs.
The Wolverines opened the scoring with 3:20 left in the first quarter when Schools scored on a three-yard touchdown run. His score capped a 15-play, 75-yard drive that used 7:59. Freshman kicker Nick Morrow (Moon Township, Pa./Moon) kicked the first of his eight extra points.
Morrisville State (6-5) had a chance to break through in the closing minute of the first quarter when Nick Edmond threw a 36-yard halfback option pass to Raffaele Bradshaw. However, junior cornerback Jacob Ross(Murrysville, Pa./Franklin Regional) punched away the ball from Bradshaw at the Grove City 5 and sophomore safety Patrick Mark (Palm Beach Gardens, Fla./Wellington) recovered in the end zone for a touchback.
Grove City doubled the lead on the subsequent possession when Ehst threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Drake with 11:47 left in the half. A 27-yard strike to Gustafson on third-and-7 kept alive the drive.
Morrisville State answered with a 10-play, 65-yard drive that ended with Brandon Gwinner's five-yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Cooper. The extra point failed.
Seven plays later for Grove City, Schools scored on a 10-yard run with 3:56 left in the second quarter. However, Morrisville cut the lead to 21-12 when Gwinner scored on an eight-yard scramble with 1:28 left in the half.
Grove City needed only four plays to answer. Ehst opened the drive with a 10-yard scramble, then threw a 35-yard pass to Gustafson. Schools moved the ball to the Mustangs' 15 with a 10-yard run. Ehst then lofted a 15-yard touchdown pass to Drake with 29 seconds left in the half, giving Grove City a 28-12 halftime lead.
Each team scored twice in the third quarter. Schools rumbled 55 yards on the fourth play of the third quarter, giving Grove City goal to go at the 3. He then blasted in from three yards out, extending the lead to 35-12.
Edmond scored on a one-yard run with 9:37 remaining in the third quarter and Cooper caught the two-point conversion, bringing the Mustangs to within 35-20.
Grove City needed only eight plays to claim a three-touchdown lead as freshman running back Zach Trusky(Pittsburgh, Pa./Bishop Canevin) scored on a 10-yard run, his first collegiate touchdown play. One play prior, Trusky rumbled 42 yards to the 10, setting up his touchdown.
Cooper caught a 31-yard touchdown pass with 4:22 left in the third quarter but Grove City answered with an 11-play, 68-yard drive that used 5:55. Schools scored his fourth touchdown of the afternoon on a two-yard burst.
Morrisville State needed only 86 seconds to answer as Cooper caught a 28-yard touchdown pass from Gwinner. Gwinner then threw a two-pointer to Toure Hall. After Grove City's only punt of the afternoon, Morrisville State pulled to within 49-41 when Gwinner threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Petrit Boga with 7:28 remaining.
However, Grove City reclaimed a 15-point lead with a nine-play, 77-yard drive that used 5:03. Schools carried the ball on all nine plays and capped the drive with a five-yard touchdown run with 2:26 to go.
Another Gwinner-to-Cooper touchdown pass, an eight-yarder with 49 seconds left, closed the scoring. Drake recovered an onside kick and Schools' 58th and final carry of the game clinched the win as he gained four yards on third-and-3.
Gwinner completed 21 of 36 passes for 347 yards and five touchdowns. He also ran for 120 yards and a score on 13 carries. Edmond had 97 rushing yards. Cooper caught eight passes for 140 yards and four touchdowns. Morrisville State finished the game with 605 yards and 30 first downs.
Ross led the defense with 12 tackles while Mark and senior linebacker Ethan Conto (Bruin, Pa./Karns City) both had eight tackles.
Schools finishes the season with 1,741 yards and 20 touchdowns. Gustafson also set single-season records with 1,201 receiving yards and 15 touchdown catches this season.
Grove City's eight wins are the most for the Wolverines since the 1997 team finished 9-2. That team fell to Kings Point in the ECAC Southwest Bowl. It's the sixth time in program history that Grove City has won eight or more games in a season, joining 1895 (8-2), 1896 (8-1), 1911 (8-0-1), 1966 (8-0-1) and 1997 (9-2).