SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Grove City avenged another regular season loss Saturday as the Eagles topped rival Slippery Rock, 28-20, to win the District 10 Class 3A title.
The Rockets were the second playoff opponent (Fort LeBoeuf in the semifinals) the Eagles defeated that they had lost to during the regular season. Slippery Rock won the Sept. 17 matchup 34-7.
Grove City looked poised to completely flip the script Saturday as the Eagles led 28-7 heading into the fourth quarter. Slippery Rock battled as Shane Thompson scored in the first minute of the fourth and a touchdown pass from William Mokel to Lucas Allison made it a one-score game with 3:30 to play.
The Eagles were forced to punt with just under two minutes left but forced a fumble to regain possession and close out the title win.
Grove City set the tone on the opening possession of the game. The Eagles marched 80 yards in 12 plays and chewed up nearly seven minutes of the first quarter clock before Anthony Nemec finished the drive with a 4-yard TD run.
Slippery Rock took the lead early in the second quarter as Mokel hit Ryan Montgomery in the right flat. Montgomery slipped away from a pair of tackles and raced 46 yards to paydirt to give the Rockets a 7-6 lead.
Zach Rodgers returned the ensuing kickoff into Slippery Rock territory and a big pass from Hunter Hohman to Joey Hathaway set the Eagles up inside the Rockets’ 10. Nemec ran in his second score, this one a 3-yarder, to give Grove City a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
Later in the half, Hohman took a keeper around the left side and ran 52 yards down to the Slippery Rock 5. Two plays later he plunged in from 1-yard to give the Eagles a 21-7 advantage.
Slippery Rock marched down to the Grove City 10 late in the first half, but Mokel was sacked on the final play of the half.
Grove City used another methodical drive to take a 28-7 lead late in the third quarter. This time, the Eagles went 76 yards on 13 plays and used more than six minutes. Hohman connected with Rodgers from three yards to finish the drive.
Following the Thompson score, Slippery Rock nearly had itself in a first-and-goal situation from the 1. Mokel tried to hit Montgomery in the flat again, but the pass sailed through Montgomery’s hands. Montgomery alertly picked the ball up as the official ruled it a backward pass. Montgomery ran down to the one, but Grove City poked the ball loose and recovered to stop the drive.
Thompson led the Rockets’ rushing attack with 14 carries for 71 yards and a score. Mokel finished 18-25 passing for 184 yards and two touchdowns and had 18 rushing yards. Montgomery had four receptions for 60 yards and a score while Jon Sabo had eight grabs for 82 yards. Allison’s touchdown catch was his lone reception for the game.
Nemec ran 26 times for 129 yards and two touchdowns and had three receptions for 26 yards. Hohman ran 14 times for 86 yards and a score and was 11-16 passing for 145 yards and a TD.
Hathaway led the receivers with three catches for 82 yards. Gavin Lutz had 33 yards on four receptions.
Grove City will face District 6 champion Central, a 20-14 winner over Bedford Friday night, in the PIAA quarterfinals at a time, place and location to be announced.