Courtesy of Westminster Athletics
NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. - The Westminster College football team lost its home-opener against visiting Grove City, 31-16, Saturday at Harold Burry Stadium in a Presidents' Athletic Conference (PAC) game. Grove City wins a game at Westminster for the first time since 1961 as it snaps a 12-game losing streak in New Wilmington. The Titans fall to 1-2 on the season, 0-1 in the PAC. The Wolverines improve to 2-1 and 1-0 in the league.
Westminster failed to convert three fourth downs on short yardage situations, including two on its opening three drives. The Titans also missed a field goal and threw three interceptions.
Westminster junior quarterback Shawn Lehocky (Conway, Pa./Freedom) set a new career high with 238 passing yards by completing 20 of 40 passes including a 10-yard touchdown to senior wide receiver Nick Sorice (New Alexandria, Pa./Greater Latrobe) in the fourth quarter for the game's final touchdown. However, Lehocky's three interceptions were also a career high.
Lehocky completed at least four passes to three different receivers, including sophomore Connor Kobis (Elma, N.Y./Bishop Timon-St. Jude) snaring five balls for 55 yards and freshman Collin Wallace (Mechanicsburg, Pa./Cumberland Valley) hauling in four passes for 54 yards. Both players tied career highs in receptions. Senior tight end Jim Bonenberger (Pittsburgh, Pa./Mount Lebanon) set a new career high with four catches for 43 yards.
Grove City never trailed in the game as the Wolverines scored first when quarterback Clayton Hall completed a 3-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Tapper, 10 plays after Westminster went for it on fourth-down-and-1 from its own 45-yard line. Grove City scored first-quarter points vs. Westminster for the first time since the teams' 2001 game.
In the second quarter, Grove City's errant snap from center forced Hall to take a safety and Westminster was on the scoreboard, down 7-2. After another missed Westminster fourth-down conversion gave the ball to Grove City on its own 36-yard line, Craig Bicehouse nailed a 31-yard field goal to put the Wolverines up 10-2.
Sophomore cornerback Kyle Allen (New Wilmington, Pa./West Middlesex) returned the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for his first career kickoff return for a touchdown and his second touchdown of the season for Westminster.
The one-point, 10-9 deficit was as close as Westminster would get, as Grove City's Will McCoy caught an 8-yard touchdown pass from reserve quarterback Zach Gross to put the Wolverines up 17-9 at halftime. Gross came in for Hall who was injured in the second quarter and never returned.
Hall finished the game with 58 yards on 9-14 passing and one touchdown. Gross was sharp in relief by completed 7 of 8 passes for 105 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for a 5-yard touchdown in the third quarter that put Grove City up 24-9 and he threw a 64-yard touchdown pass to Luke O'Hara with 11:48 remaining in the fourth quarter that gave the Wolverines a 31-9 advantage. O'Hara led Grove City with four catches for 80 yards.
Neither team ran the ball well as Grove City amassed 76 yards on the ground, led by Shane Kaclik's two carries for 30 yards and Blaine Miller's 10 totes for 25 yards. Westminster sophomore running back Logan Belinda (Pennsylvania Furnace, Pa./State College) ran for a career-high 53 yards on 15 carries in his first career start. Belinda was starting for injured sophomore John Proano (Titusville, Pa./Titusville).
Defensively, senior linebacker Tom Geraghty (Austinburg, Ohio/Jefferson) led the Titans with a career-high 17 tackles, the most by any Westminster player since Jordan Blinn had 20 vs. Grove City in 2008. Senior linebacker Cory Meeker (Glen Dale, W.Va./John Marshall) posted 10 tackles and a sack and freshman defensive tackle Sean Christofferson (New Wilmington, Pa./Wilmington) notched his first career sack while making four stops.
Vince Angelo led Grove City with 10 tackles. Mike Brown also had an interception and two pass break-ups to go with his four tackles.
Westminster is idle next week before traveling to Washington & Jefferson Oct. 2 for a 7 p.m. kickoff.