Wilmington “Burns” Grove City with 27 second-half points
Written by: Josh Funk on Sunday, September 20th, 2009
NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. – Standing on the Greyhound Stadium turf postgame, Grove City head coach Jeff Bell was looking for some divine intervention.
“If we could have got some lightning and the lights went off (in the third quarter), it would have been a great ending,” the Eagles’ boss said.
Instead, Wilmington was the one celebrating at the end.
The Greyhounds (3-0) overcame a slow start and a very long Eagles (2-1) scoring drive in the third quarter with 27 unanswered second half points to win going away, 34-14, in New Wilmington Saturday night.
Both teams, which pride themselves on strong running games out of Wing-T offensive sets, were held well below their averages in per-game rushing yardage.
But then again, these two regional rivals know each other pretty well, having met 11 times since the start of the 1999 season and also in the 1995 D10 “AA” championship game.
Early on, neither the Hounds or the Eagles could really get anything going offensively. The ground games for both teams were, for the most part, stuffed, though Wilmington held a slight upper hand in passing yardage.
“In the first half, we couldn’t get on track,” said 236-game winner Terry Verrelli. “That was because of Grove City’s (defense). I give them all the credit.”
Bell said that the Eagles’ defensive game plan was to stuff the Hounds’ potent rushing attack that was averaging 318.5 yards per game, keyed by Pitt commit Derrick Burns, wingback Sutton Whiting and fullback Josh Phillian.
Grove City held Wilmington to just 33 yards on 17 first half carries, and Burns only had three carries for a single yard in the first half. The Hounds’ lone score came courtesy of a Jake DeMedal six-yard pass to Chad Palladino with 5:50 left in the first half.
Grove City knotted things up with just 10 seconds left in the half when Jamarr Patterson scored on a six-yard run. That Patterson touchdown was set up by a Tyler Dagres 53-yard pass to Marty Phipps down the Wilmington sideline.
And as the second half opened, it appeared the night, and the game, would be Grove City’s. Employing what resembled a Delaware Wing-T formation the entire drive, the Eagles marched 14 plays, 74 yards, and drained 7:27 off of the game clock.
When Patterson (13 carries, 57 yards, 2 TD) crossed the goal line on a 2-yard scoring run, Grove City appeared to have things in control.
Or so they thought.
Wilmington immediately countered. An 8-play, 63-yard drive was highlighted by two 17-yard passes by DeMedal and a 22-yard run by Whiting and capped with a Burns’ 2-yard scoring run, cutting the Eagle lead to 14-13 after a blocked extra point.
After forcing Grove City to punt, Wilmington started on another drive, but an Eagle sack of DeMedal lost 13 yards and put the Hounds in a 2nd-and-23 situation.
Not a problem. Burns (11 carries, 70 yards, 2 TD) darted right through the Eagle defense for a 46-yard run on the very next play giving Wilmington a 19-14 lead after an unsuccessful two point conversion.
Grove City fumbled the ensuing kickoff at its own 21, and Wilmington wasted no time in scoring again. DeMedal found Palladino on a 21-yard fade pattern between two GC defenders, pushing the Hounds’ lead to 27-14 after DeMedal’s successful two-point pass to Whiting.
DeMedal (11-of-14, 125 yards, 2 TD; 5 rush, 5 yards, TD) capped the Hound scoring with a 5-yard run with 4:16 left in the game. That score was set up by a Palladino interception of Grove City’s Dagres (4-of-6, 97 yards, INT; 11 rush, 54 yards) at the Eagle 15-yard line.
For the game, Wilmington finished with 273 yards of offense and 14 first downs, well below its average of 390 yards per game. The Hound ground attack was held mostly in check – just 158 yards on 34 carries on this night.
In addition to Burns’ effort, Phillian registered 8 carries for 47 yards and Whiting added 8 carries for 43 yards. Palladino had 7 receptions for 79 yards and a pair of touchdowns for Wilmington, winners of 61 of their last 69 games.
Grove City finished the game with 269 yards of total offense and, like Wilmington, 14 first downs.
While Patterson and Dagres were the main keys to the ground attack, which amassed 172 yards on the night, Marty Phipps added 22 yards on 5 carries and back-up quarterback Mason DePeal had 3 rushes for 29 yards.
Next weekend, Wilmington travels to Oil City to face an upstart Oilers’ squad, while Grove City looks to rebound against Franklin.
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