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Grove City Deflates Golden Tornadoes, 38-13

Written by: on Saturday, October 11th, 2008
Western PA Writer
    GROVE CITY — Anyway you look at it, it was a case of complete domination.
    That is the best way to describe what took place Saturday afternoon at Robert E. Thorn Field as the Grove City College Wolverines (4-2) overwhelmed the Geneva Golden Tornadoes for a convincing 38-13 win.
    Playing one of its best overall games in recent years, the Wolverines got the job done by playing all three phases of the game — offense, defense and special teams — to near perfection.
    “We played an outstanding football game against a good opponent,” beamed GCC coach Chris Smith. “I think from the second half against W&J until now I am seeing a team that is maturing all the time. We aren’t there yet, but it is getting better and better all the time and that is what we saw today offensively, defensively and on special teams.”
    Although his team had just won convincingly, Smith also noted that he and his staff will be anxious to take a look at the game film.
    “Right now I am smiling, but I am sure that when we watch the films we will find some things that weren’t as good as I thought they were,” he said. “But let me tell you, it was a great day for us.”   
    Two weeks ago in a 31-17 win over Thiel, the Golden Tornadoes (1-4) showed signs of getting things together. However in Saturday’s loss, those signs weren’t to be found.
    “I think it is going to be one of those years,” Geneva coach Geno DeMarco said after talking with his team. “We had holding penalties and other 15-yard penalties that just took away from any continuity we might have had on drives. With our group being young, our problem is that we cannot afford to do that. There isn’t a whole lot of margin of error for us. I don’t think it was anything we did or didn’t do, but rather, I think Grove City played one of the best football games I have seen a team play on all three levels. Special teams, offense, defense, you really have to give Chris (Smith) a lot of credit because he and his staff just did a super job.”
    The Wolverines put the handwriting on the wall from the opening kickoff as they put together drives of 57 yards on 15 plays and 73 yards on 11 plays on their first two possessions that resulted in a pair of scores by Brian Mercer and a quick 14-0 lead.
    “We came out and they just kicked us on the teeth,” said DeMarco. “You have to call it what it is. We just made too many mistakes and didn’t play good football.”
    With the 14-0 lead, GCC made it 21-0 and it used a record-breaking effort by Stephen Mercer to get the job done. Hauling in a Geneva punt on his own 17, Mercer swerved and juked his way down the field for an 83-yard punt return for a score. Mercer’s effort was the longest punt return in GCC history.
    “The way it turned out, I think it was the game-changer,” said Mercer about his record-breaker. “I just looked for and found a crease and when I got through it (the crease), I had a convoy to the end zone.”
    Following a 34-yard TD connection between quarterback Andrew DiDonato and Clayton Hall to push the GCC lead to 28-0, the Golden Tornadoes scored their first points of the game when A.J. Delmonico returned the ensuing kickoff 88 yards to the house.
    Now a junior, DiDonato who finished with 18 completions on 31 attempts, knows what this win can mean to he and the rest of the squad.
    “This win is huge for us,” said DiDonato. “Being 4-2 and over .500, we feel confident with two wins in a row and it was just a total team effort in all three areas of the game. Everyone is supporting everyone else and right now, it is a family type unit.”
    Answering the call following the Delmonico score, the Wolverines got a 28-yard field goal from newcomer Craig Bicehouse and a 6-yard TD run by Brian Mercer, his third of the game. Geneva quarterback David Girardi hit Stuart Bell with a 5-yard scoring pass to close out the scoring.
    Bicehouse, a former Slippery Rock High product, just recently joined the team and his presence was perfect as he nailed the field goal while also providing five more points on conversions following GCC touchdowns in his debut.
    “I got an e-mail Sunday night from one of the coaches asking me to come out because their regular kicker (Chris Haley) pulled his quad,” explained Bicehouse about his emergence onto the scene. “I decided to play soccer when I came here (to GCC), but as it turned out, it wasn’t what I wanted. I was a little bit overrun from soccer in high school so I decided not to play a sport my freshman year. I just came out this week, practiced a little bit and it is nice to be playing football again.”

Skipping The Sidelines

    Biggest Win: The Grove City win was the biggest win over the Golden Tornadoes since GCC downed Geneva 34-0 in 1975.

    Long Time: The win by the Wolverines was also the first for GCC over Geneva since the 1979 campaign when the Wolverines nudged the Golden Tornadoes by a 26-25 margin.
     Getting Their Feet Wet: “We could have maybe kept them out when they scored that last touchdown, but we wanted to get everyone into the game,” explained coach Smith. “They practice and work hard and when the opportunity presents itself, they deserve to have a chance to play in a game. I was so happy for some of the young kids to get a chance to make some plays.”
    Taking Something Back: Despite the outcome, DeMarco and his staff can still take come things from the loss to build on. “We are not real deep, but we are getting better in some positions,” said DeMarco. “We just have to find out what it is that we do best. And what we do best is run the football. You can’t just depend on four-yard gains and sustain 15-play drives. And when it is time to play, you had better be focused. It is a good lesson for young people to understand, challenges come to you in life and you have to take on every challenge you face with everything you have. We have to find out what we have in this team, and with the type of kids we have and the character they have, I really believe they will get off the mat.”
    They faced something new: Although DiDonato completed 18 of 31 attempts for 191 yards and a score, he found himself scrambling all over the Thorn turf at times. “They run a 3-5 defense and although this is week 6, it is the first time we have seen that all year,” said DiDonato. “The defense is different than that of any other opponent we play. With the five linebackers, they do a lot of roaming and blitzing and today, it gave us some problems. We will see it on film, but their defense was very unusual.”
    Quarterback turned into running back: At times when he was scrambling for his life, DiDonato pulled the ball down and tried to get what was possible from the play. “There were a couple of opportunities where I could have taken off to protect myself when we had the lead,” he explained. “Maybe I should do more of it.”
     All-Purpose Guy: Not be left out of the scheme of things in the win, Brian Mercer came up big in the stats columns. Mercer led all rushers in the game with 87 yards while scoring three touchdowns. He also led the Wolverine receivers as he hauled in a half dozen DiDonato passes for another 60 yards, giving him 147 total purpose yards for his day’s work.

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