GROVE CITY - The Grove City College football team closed the 2022 season Saturday afternoon by earning a 31-14 victory over visiting Farleigh Dickinson University-Florham at Robert E. Thorn Field in the Eastern College Athletic Conference James Lynah Bowl.
The Grove City defense recorded seven quarterback sacks, forced two turnovers and held the Devils (6-5) to 160 total yards on 63 plays. Grove City held FDU-Florham to minus-11 rushing yards.
Senior linebacker Ryan Fleming recorded a career-high 3.5 quarterback sacks, earning the game's Most Valuable Player award. Fleming also became Grove City's career leader in quarterback sacks as he now has 22.
Freshman linebacker Ben Bladel added two sacks and a fumble recovery while senior defensive tackle James Parenti posted a sack. Sophomore defensive tackle Bryce Spolnik forced two fumbles and notched a half-sack.
Senior linebacker Parker Kilgore intercepted a pass, the 18th pick of the season for the Grove City defense.
Offensively, sophomore running back Nico Flati ran for a season-high 155 yards on 20 carries to pace the Wolverines' rushing attack. Senior Clayton Parrish (West Middlesex High) added 68 yards and a touchdown on 19 carries, helping the Wolverines accumulate 233 rushing yards.
Grove City opened the game with a 13-play, 73-yard touchdown drive that consumed 6:26. Freshman running back Ian Demeri capped the drive with a four-yard touchdown run.
FDU-Florham tied the game, 7-7, when Eric Castorina caught a four-yard touchdown pass from Ryon Thomas with 3:01 left in the first quarter. The Wolverines then held FDU-Florham to 83 yards over the final 48 minutes of the game.
Grove City took the lead for good with a pair of touchdowns in the second quarter. Sophomore quarterback Logan Pfeuffer fired a three-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Ryan Heckathorn on fourth-and-goal to give Grove City (8-3) a 14-7 lead 53 seconds into the second quarter.
The Wolverines extended the lead to 21-7 with 2:25 left in the half when junior quarterback Ayden Gutierrez scored on a one-yard sneak. Gutierrez replaced Pfeuffer due to injury.
FDU-Florham cut Grove City's lead to 21-14 midway through the third quarter when Naysom Brown caught a two-year touchdown pass from Thomas.
Grove City answered early in the fourth quarter, however, as senior kicker Nick Morrow drilled a 26-yard field goal with 12:50 left.
Parrish's three-yard touchdown run with 8:29 left closed the scoring. Flati's weaving 69-yard run to the FDU 15 set up the final touchdown.
Pfeuffer completed 7 of 10 passes for 107 yards. Gutierrez went 3 of 11 for 24 yards. Heckathorn finished with 58 receiving yards on his two catches. Junior Scott Fraser had four receptions for 32 yards.
Fleming led Grove City with seven tackles. He broke the previous record of 21 career sacks, set by Mark Furgeson from 1995 to 1998.
Bladel and junior safety Dominic Magliocco each had six stops.
Grove City outgained the Devils, 364-160. The Wolverines held a 35:11-24:49 edge in time of possession. FDU-Florham went 4 of 16 on third down while Grove City converted 4 of 12 third downs. Thomas finished 23 of 38 for 171 yards.
Grove City is now 4-1 all-time in ECAC bowl action. The Wolverines defeated Morrisville State in the 2018 James Lynah Bowl, 56-48, then earned a 41-38 victory in the 2019 James Lynah Bowl over Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Last year, Grove City earned a 49-7 win over Utica in the ECAC Scotty Whitelaw Bowl.
Saturday's game marked the first meeting between the programs.