The Westerville South High School football team turned in a strong defensive performance as the Wildcats rallied to beat host Grove City 17-14 on Sept. 13.

The Westerville South High School football team turned in a strong defensive performance as the Wildcats rallied to beat host Grove City 17-14 on Sept. 13.

South's defense forced three turnovers and held Grove City to 152 yards of total offense, as the Wildcats improved to 2-1 overall and the Dawgs dropped to 1-2.

"This was a pivotal game for us because Grove City has a very good team," South coach Rocky Pentello said. "Our defensive players were mad at themselves after we gave up three big plays last week (during a 24-14 loss to Clayton Northmont) and they came back with a great effort."

The Wildcats took a 10-0 lead in the first quarter, but were hampered by mistakes the rest of the game, including 14 penalties for 130 yards.

The Dawgs had only four penalties for 47 yards, but two of those penalties took touchdowns off the scoreboard.

On Grove City's first possession, an apparent 75-yard touchdown run by quarterback Cameron Meece was wiped out by a chop-block penalty.

The Wildcats went ahead 7-0 the first time they got the ball, as running back Darien Miller capped a 10-play, 48-yard drive with a 1-yard scoring run.

The Dawgs turned the ball over at their own 34 on their next possession, setting up a 31-yard field goal by Phil Wenzinger that made it 10-0.

"I told our guys all week that we'd win this game if we didn't turn the ball over," Grove City coach Matt Jordan said. "We had three turnovers, and we had two penalties take 14 points off the board. That first one really hurt, because we didn't get any points on that drive."

The Dawgs bounced back to take a 14-10 halftime advantage, however, as defensive back Tyler Cowles got Grove City on the scoreboard when he returned an interception 41 yards for a touchdown. The Dawgs then went ahead on a 4-yard scoring run by Evan Jones to finish a 10-play, 58-yard drive.

South opened the second half with an eight-play, 39-yard drive, but turned the ball over on downs at Grove City's 26.

The Wildcats put together a 16-play, 66-yard drive on their next possession, but that threat ended with an interception by Cowles at Grove City's 2.

"Our turnovers made a big difference," Pentello said. "We threw a pick-6 and all of the sudden Grove City had the momentum."

Two plays after Cowles' second interception, however, South linebacker Mike Thesing stripped the ball from a Grove City player and defensive back Kamaree Walden recovered at the 1.

On the next play, Miller scored on another 1-yard run to give South a 17-14 lead with 2 minutes, 14 seconds remaining.

The Dawgs answered with a 13-play, 54-yard drive, but Trey Harden's interception at South's 5-yard line with 36 seconds left sealed the victory for the Wildcats.

"That turnover at the end of the game was a real game-changer," Walden said. "We practiced stripping the ball all week, and when I saw the ball come loose it was like I saw gold and I just had to grab it."

Miller rushed for 117 yards and two scores for the Wildcats, while Meece rushed for 93 yards on 21 carries and was 7-for-9 passing for 41 yards for Grove City.


Team 1 2 3 4 Final WESTERVILLE SOUTH 10 0 0 7 17 GROVE CITY 0 14 0 0 14

WS -- Miller 1 run (Wenzinger kick)
WS -- Wenzinger 31 FG
GC -- Cowles 41 interception return (Capehart kick)
GC -- Jones 4 run (Capehart kick)
WS -- Miller 1 run (Wenzinger kick)