W&J Outlasts Grove City In PAC Opener
WASHINGTON, Pa. -- The Washington & Jefferson College football team won its fourth-straight Presidents’ Athletic Conference opener after battling to a 24-17 victory over Grove City at Cameron Stadium on Saturday night.
W&J (2-1, 1-0) avenged last year’s loss to the Wolverines (1-2, 0-1) in which the Presidents saw a three-touchdown lead evaporate in the second half.
The Presidents built a double-digit lead late in the third quarter when junior quarterback Matt Bliss (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park) hit classmate Alex Baroffio (Bethel Park, Pa./Bethel Park) on a screen pass and Baroffio weaved his way 15 yards into the end zone to make the score 21-10.
Junior kicker Eric Eberle (Mifflintown, Pa./Juniata) expanded the edge to 14 with a 21-yard field with 9:32 remaining in the fourth quarter. The Presidents were set up deep in Wolverine territory after junior Nathan Melhorn (Salineville, Ohio/Southern Local) recovered a Grove City fumble at the Wolverine 6-yard line.
Grove City responded six minutes later when it drove 18 yards in 59 seconds for a touchdown. Wide receiver Anthony Ritchie out-jumped the Presidents’ defense for a 5-yard touchdown reception.
The Wolverines would not get another chance with the football, as W&J grinded out the final 3:33 of the fourth quarter by picking up a pair of first downs and running the clock out.
After failing to score on its first two drives of the game, W&J needed just 1:14 on its third drive to find the end zone. Senior running back Tim McNerney (Butler, Pa./Knoch) busted a run for 28 yards and two plays later junior Dion Wiegand (Pittsburgh, Pa./Keystone Oaks) scampered eight yards into the end zone for the game’s first points.
The Wolverines responded with a field goal midway through the second quarter and then took the lead just before the half with a 7-play, 65-yard drive capped off by a two-yard run by Shane Kaclik. Kaclik ran for a career-high 161 yards on 23 carries during the game.
The Presidents took the lead for good with 8:20 to go in the third quarter when McNerney ran for his 29th-career touchdown. McNerney accumulated 115 yards on the ground along with a pair of catches for 10 yards.
Bliss threw for 126 yards and one touchdown on 15-of-23 passing. Baroffio led all W&J receivers with nine receptions and 83 yards.
Wolverine quarterback Brian Pell finished the night with 96 passing yards and one touchdown. He also ran for 20 yards.
Defensively, the Presidents posted a balanced effort as five players notched a team-high seven tackles.
Grove City outgained W&J by a slim 274-271 margin, while the Presidents gained 20 first downs compared to 15 for the Wolverines. Grove City was plagued by 10 penalties, costing it 103 yards. The Wolverines, who were not penalized in their season opener versus CMU, had not racked up over 100 yards in penalties in their last 90 games prior to Saturday night.
The Presidents will head to Greenville on Saturday to face Thiel at 1:30 pm. The Tomcats ended their 24-game losing streak with a 21-14, overtime victory against Geneva on Saturday.