Westminster Holds off Grove City
Written by: William Albright on Monday, September 19th, 2011
By BILL ALBRIGHT
GROVE CITY — What could be better than a small college football game between two rival schools on a crisp Fall Saturday night? Grove City (0-3) and Westminster (2-1) college football teams answered that question with an emphatic reply of NOTHING!
The Titans and Wolverines battled each other tooth-and-nail Saturday night until Westminster walked off the field with a hard-fought 25-20 win before a energetic SRO crowd at Robert E. Thorn Field.
“Our kids hung in there and did what they had to do,” said Westminster head coach Jeff Hand. “It was one of those games, especially at the end, that was simply a tough game. It was a great football game.”
As for Grove City head coach Chris Smith, he felt his squad played well enough to win most football games had they not made so many mistakes at critical times.
“We played well enough to win the football game,” Smith said. “The job of coaching is to help the players eliminate the errors that will allow us to play the type of game to give us a chance to be a winner. The bottom line is that you have to play a whole game, both offensively and defensively, and we didn’t do that tonight.”
The game resembled a track meet from the opening kickoff as the first five possessions resulted in a score.
Geno Pasquinelli caught his first of two TD passes to put the Titans up 7-0, a 13-yard effort from QB Zach Hoffman. However, GCC came right back to tie the game when Jimmy Bailey brought the Wolverine faithful to their feet with an 88-yard punt return for a score. For Bailey, his TD jaunt was the longest in Grove City history.
Pasquinelli put the Titans back on top when he hauled in a 40-yard scoring aerial from Tommy Turnbull, but the Wolverines answered right back when Ed Reith rambled in from 30 yards out for the score. Both PATs failed and the two teams were deadlocked again, this time at 13-all.
With seven catches for 85 yards and the pair of scores, Pasquinelli extended his streak of having caught at least five passes in a game to ten consecutive games.
“The coaches do a real good job of game-planning before we come out on Saturday,” said Pasquinelli. “We felt we could get them deep on the outside and they did a good job of calling the plays.”
As for keeping him from catching a ball in the final half, Pasquinelli felt the Wolverines changed it up a little bit on defense.
“It looked like they were playing a little more three-deep and then rolling the corner over top,” he said. “It wasn’t anything we couldn’t handle and our other receivers and defense really stepped it up in the second half.”
Smith also felt that his team had a difficult time of matching its coverage with the Titan passing scheme during the first 30 minutes.
“There were some times in the first half that our coverage just didn’t seem to match up with what they were throwing,” Smith said. “In the second half, we made some adjustments to put our players in a better position to make plays and they responded to do that.”
With Westminster starter Shawn Lehocky out of the game due to a concussion suffered in the loss to Lycoming, the Titans decided to go with the two-quarterback approach and it was effective.
“There was really nothing different for me,” Pasquinelli said. “In practice we (receivers) see all three of them every day and as a result, we didn’t miss a beat.”
Hand also felt that both Hoffman and Turnbull performed well.
“It was our plan coming into the game to use both quarterbacks. “We (the coaches) believe in both of them and they both proved to be game-worthy. They both did a nice job.”
After missing a PAT, Titan kicker Zac Henry booted field goals of 34 and 21 yards before Hoffman bulled in from two yards out for a touchdown to give the Titans a 25-13 lead midway through the third quarter.
Not to run away and hide, the Wolverines came back to tally the game’s final score when quarterback Clayton Hall found a crease and scooted into the end zone for a 13-yard score less than two minutes into the final period.
After the Hall touchdown, things settled down as the final 13-plus minutes became a game of field position and defensive stands, allowing the Titans to hold on for the five-point win.
“I think both team’s defenses settled down after the quick start,” said Hand. “I think they got into more of a rhythm and that was a great crowd out there. It was just a great atmosphere and there was a lot of energy out there tonight.”
Follow WesternPAFootball.com on Twitter @WPAFootball