Jordan Fisher scored on a 16-yard run with 48.9 seconds remaining to lift Grove City to a 41-34 victory over visiting Westerville South on Friday, Sept. 9.
The Dawgs rallied from a 34-20 deficit by scoring 21 unanswered points in the fourth quarter.
"Our kids preserved tonight through some serious adversity," Grove City coach Matt Jordan said. "Obviously, Westerville South is a very talented football team and can make things happen at any point in the game."
Grove City averted its fourth consecutive 0-3 start, dating to the 2007 season. The team did not play in 2009 after a levy failure prompted the cancellation of fall sports in South-Western City Schools.
"You can't let it get to you," Fisher said of the possibility his team would start 0-3. "This is the right boost that we needed. We know what we can do, it just took us a minute to get there, but we got it down and hopefully continue to win."
The Wildcats squandered a pair of double-digit leads in each half.
South quarterback Nick Renzetti, playing in place of starter Marcus Ball (concussion), connected with Gary Brown for a 45-yard scoring pass and a 34-20 lead with 3:19 remaining in the third quarter.
A combination of penalties (17 total), turnovers and special-teams errors (fumbled punt snap) allowed the Dawgs to stay in the game.
"We made too many mistakes," said South coach Rocky Pentello, whose team fell to 1-2. "Every time we got up two touchdowns, instead of closing it out like a good team does, we let them hang around. You can't do that. We didn't close Coffman out (last week). We didn't close Grove City out and we paid for it in both games."
Grove City tied the game at 34 when Nick Davis threw a 39-yard touchdown pass to Tyler Cowles with 8:27 remaining.
The play was set up when South punter Andrew Bonnell fumbled and Grove City recovered at its 39 yard-line.
"Our special teams," Pentello said when asked about the most disappointing aspect of the game. "We made so many mistakes. We watched the film, see the onside kicks and our kids don't recover them. Our punter drops the snap. Our special teams were awful and I'm the special teams coach."
South outgained the Dawgs 573-370. Running back Daxton Cates had 217 yards on 31 carries with two touchdowns. Renzetti completed 16 of 28 passes for 301 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. Brown had five catches for 146 yards and two scores.
Fisher ran 13 times for 62 yards for Grove City. Davis was 22-for-39 passing for 264 yards and two touchdowns with one interception.
WESTERVILLE SOUTH 6 14 14 0 -- 34
GROVE CITY 3 17 0 21 -- 41
GC--Nankivell 22 FG
WS--Cates 20 run (kick failed)
WS--Cates 3 run (Bonnell kick)
GC--Fisher 1 run (Nankivell kick)
GC--Moore 42 interception return (Nankivell kick)
WS--Carter 54 pass from Renzetti (Bonnell kick)
GC--Nankivell 35 FG
WS--Brown 30 pass from Renzetti (Bonnell kick)
WS--Brown 45 pass from Renzetti (Bonnell kick)
GC--Cowles 5 pass from Davis (Nankivell kick)
GC--Cowles 39 pass from Davis (Nankivell kick)
GC--Fisher 16 run (Nankivell kick)