CORTLAND, N.Y. – With a chance for another dramatic NCAA Division III playoff win on his toe, Caleb Kueckly’s 37-yard field goal with six seconds left went wide left allowing homestanding Cortland to escape with a second-round 25-24 win over Grove City Saturday afternoon.
A week ago, Kuechly’s extra point with seven seconds left was the game-winner in the Wolverines’ 21-20 win over Susquehanna moments after Grove City had scored the game-tying touchdown.
But this time around, Kueckly, who was 6 of 10 on the year on field goals, including 2 of 3 from between 30 and 39 yards couldn’t deliver after the Wolverines had moved from their own 35 to the Cortland 20 in 58 seconds before using their final timeout with nine ticks left on the clock following an 8-yard Logan Pfeuffer slant pass to Scott Fraser.
Cortland (11-1) had taken the 25-24 lead when it scored a touchdown and then a 2-point conversion with 1:23 to play.
The touchdown came on a 1-yard run by Jaden AlfanoStJohn, and the 2-point conversion was a pass from Zac Boyes to Omari Kendrick.
That ended a 12-play, 57-yard drive for Cortland, which had gotten the ball back one play after Boyes threw an interception when Nico Flati fumbled with the Red Dragons recovering at their own 43-yard line.
The Red Dragons converted a pair of fourth downs on the game-winning drive including a back-breaking 24-yard pass from Boyes to Cole Burgess on a fourth-and-15 at the Corland 49-yard line that set up Cortland inside the Grove City 30.
Earlier in the drive, Boyes had run for six yards on fourth-and-5 from his own 48.
Grove City had rallied from an early 14-0 deficit in the second quarter to take the 24-17 lead on a 7-yard Pfeuffer to Fraser touchdown pass with 8:27 to play.
The Wolverines then seemed poised to put the game away when Trevor Beck picked off a Boyes pass at the Grove City 44-yard line with 7:17 remaining.
Sam Cotton, though, forced the Flati fumble at the Grove City 47-yard line, and the ball bounced all the way to the Cortland 43 before Luke Winslow was able to recover it giving the Red Dragons new life.
After going down 14-0, Grove City tied the game just before halftime on a 4-yard Pfeuffer to Ryan Lenhart touchdown pass with seven seconds left in the half.
The score was set up by a 17-yard Gabe Dunlap punt return to the Cortland 38-yard line with 28 seconds left before halftime. Pfeuffer then hit Ryan Heckathorn with a 34-yard pass to the 4-yard line setting up the Heckathorn touchdown.
The Wolverines took a 17-14 lead with 6:39 left in the third quarter on a 20-yard Kuechly field goal before Mike Baloga hit a 27-yard field goal with 1:31 to play in the third quarter to knot the game at 17.
Pfeuffer was 18 of 30 passing for 197 yards, three touchdowns, and two interceptions with Heckathorn catching eight passes for 96 yards and a score and Fraser coming away with seven grabs for 75 yards and a touchdown.
Flati ran for 116 yards on 25 carries.
Boyes was 19 of 28 passing for 263 yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions while also rushing 12 times for 50 yards and a score.
JJ Laap had eight catches for 111 yards and a touchdown for Cortland with Cole Burgess catching five passes for 89 yards.
Cortland will take on Alma in the quarterfinals next week, while Grove City finished the finest season in school history with a school-record 11 wins and the school’s first NCAA playoff win.