GROVE CITY, Pa. – The Morrisville State football team put together a second half charge as they attempted to post a comeback against host Grove City College, but the Mustangs fell short as they dropped the 56-48 decision to the Wolverines in the ECAC Division III James Lynah Bowl held at Grove City.
Despite putting forth a season high 605 total yard offensive effort that included three career high's by members of the Mustangs offensive unit, Morrisville State was unable to get past the Wolverines in the first meeting in program history between the two institutions.
Each exchanged possessions in the opening half of the first quarter, before Grove City set the tone with a drive that began on their own 25 yard line nearly four minutes in. Going on the foot of Wesley Schools, the Wolverines utilized the running back's speed to move the ball a total 60 yards, as they capped off the 15 play drive with a three-yard rushing score at the 3:13 mark. Grove City's possession ate up just over eight minutes of the clock.
Morrisville State started to move the ball on their ensuing possession, but a fumble recovered by Grove City in the end zone put the ball back in the hands of the hosts and kept the Mustangs scoreless after one.
Grove City extended their lead to 14-0 early in the second, as Josh Ehst completed one of 11 total passes on the day to Cameron Drake for the 21-yard throwing strike, completing the 10-play, 80 yard drive.
Morrisville State, though, responded on their following possession, as Brandon Gwinner (Schenectady, N.Y.) marched the Mustangs 65 yards in 10 plays to cut the lead to one possession, connecting on 3-of-4 pass attempts for 30 yards and adding another 17 on the ground. Gwinner hit Jermaine Cooper (New York City, N.Y.) for the five-yard touchdown score after Nick Edmond (Blythe, Calif.) pounded the ball forward in three straight plays for a total 28 yards.
Schools took over for the hosts, though, and responded to the Mustangs score, scrambling 10 yards for the touchdown 3:27 later, his first of the day.
Morrisville State would be successful once again on their next drive, after gaining good field position after a 13-yard kick return by Toure Hall (Stratford, Conn.). The Mustangs moved the ball quickly in the no-huddle offense, and in seven plays struck again with an eight yard quarterback keep to cut the lead to 21-12.
The back and forth battle continued with the next Wolverine drive, as Grove City showed they could move quickly as well, with Ehst taking to the air and leading the hosts 70-yards in four plays as he completed the 15-yard scoring pass play to Drake for a second time in the quarter.
The predicted high scoring affair continued in the third as Grove City extended their lead to a three possession game on their first drive of the second half, with Schools scrambling for a 55 yard gain before getting the block into the end zone for the three-yard ground score.
Morrisville State responded three minutes later with their own score, a one yard pound behind the center from Edmond to complete the Mustangs longest drive of the day, an 85-yard, eight play effort that was capped off by the two-point pass conversion from Gwinner to Cooper.
Again the Wolverines lit up the scoreboard on the foot of a running back, this time from Zach Trusky as he found a hole and carried the ball 10 yards for the score, regaining the three-possession lead.
But the Mustangs wouldn't go away quietly as Gwinner hit Cooper for a second time, a 31-yard scoring pass play, in just four plays, after Hall gained ground on the kick-off return, sending the game into the final frame with a 42-26 host advantage.
Grove City continued to eat away at the clock and added to their total early on in the fourth, as Schools collected the two-yard rushing score, but Gwinner took to the air once again and hit his wide receiving unit three straight times, including a 28-yard touchdown pass play to Cooper, and the two-point conversion to Hall, to cut the lead to 15.
Morrisville State's defense forced the Wolverines to a three-and-out on their ensuing possession and capitalized on one of their own with Gwinner finding tight end Petrit Boga (Brooklyn, N.Y.) for the 13-yard touchdown strike, making with a 49-41 ball game with just over seven minutes remaining.
Once again Schools carried the Wolverine offense downfield, capping off the 77-yard drive with the five yard rushing score to extend the lead to two possessions, and once again Morrisville State responded putting together the 63-yard, nine-play drive in 1:32 total time. Gwinner utilized his quick receiving unit to attack quickly, hitting Cooper for a fourth time on the day, an eight yard strike with 49 seconds to go.
Gwinner led the fourth quarter charge completing 10-of-16 total passes for 151 yards.
Morrisville State attempted the on-side kick, but the Grove City special teams were able to control the ball and secure the win with the running game of Schools over the next three plays.
The Mustangs wrap up the season with a 6-5 overall record. Grove City collects their first win in post-season history, a mark that has taken 124 years to achieve.
"I am proud of the way we fought today," said head coach Curt Fitzpatrick.
"We played hard right until the end, which is a testament to the character of our team, especially our seniors."
"Sometimes you just come up a bit short, but we have a lot to be proud of," he continued. "Our program is making progress on the field and off, and we can't lose sight of that even though today didn't turn out like we wanted it to."
Fitzpatrick's senior squad has a lot to be proud of. At one point they too, like Grove City, had struggled to collect wins, but together fought through adversity and led the program back to the post-season for the first time since 2014. Along the way, establishing significant milestones while leaving their legacy on the Mustang field for years to come.
- Final Score: Grove City College 56, Morrisville State 48
- Game Details: ECAC Division III James Lynah Bowl
- Location: Grove City, Pa.
- Records: Grove City College 8-3, Morrisville State 6-5
WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Today's bowl game was the second time the Mustangs have appeared in the post-season under direction of head coach Curt Fitzpatrick. Morrisville State is even in the post-season, having captured the 2014 ECAC North Central Bowl Championship.
- Morrisville State trailed 28-12 at the half, before scoring twice in the third quarter and three in the fourth quarter as they attempted a comeback Saturday afternoon.
- Both teams combined for a total 1215 yards offense on the day, with Grove City edging the Mustangs 610 to 605 as Morrisville State had a season best outing in the passing game behind a career best outing from senior quarterback Brandon Gwinner (Schenectady, N.Y.).
- Gwinner completed 21-of-36 passes for a best 347 yards and five touchdown scores, tying the single game record for touchdowns thrown, and added another 120 yards in the running game on 13 carries for a score.
- Senior Nick Edmond (Blythe, Calif.) wrapped up his career in the Mustang uniform as the fourth to cross the 2,000 rushing yard mark, posting 97 net yards on 13 carries on the day, scoring once, and connecting on one pass for a 41 yard Mustang gain. Edmond finished with 2,402 total yards and 25 touchdown scores across his career, ranking fourth all-time in the Mustang record books for running backs.
- Wide receivers Jermaine Cooper (New York, N.Y.) and Raffaele Bradshaw (Westbury, N.Y.) each notched career days as well, Cooper pulling in a total eight receptions for 140 yards and four touchdowns, while Bradshaw topped his career high with seven catches for 147 yards, as the Mustangs racked up 388 yards receiving in the game through the air.
- A trio of Morrisville State secondary players led the defensive efforts, collecting 41 of the team's total 96 tackles, including two sacks. Junior safety Mike Bodnar (Miller Place, N.Y.) turned in a collegiate best performance with 20 total stops, 10 solo, while posting a half tackle for a loss of one yard.
- Senior linebackers Rob Heitzmann (Oriskany, N.Y.) and Bailey Faldetta (Lagrangeville, N.Y.) posted 11 and 10 total stops, each recording a sack apiece, and a half tackle for a loss as they rounded out their careers.
- Morrisville State struggled to stop Grove City power running back Wesley Schools, who rushed for a school high 359 yards on 58 carries and five touchdowns, leading the Wolverines as they collected an afternoon total 420 rushing yards.
- Quarterback Josh Ehst completed 11-of-15 passes for 190 yards and two scores, connecting with only two receivers in the contest. Cody Gustafson pulled in seven catches for a team high 142 yards, while Cameron Drake added four for 48 yards and two touchdowns.
- Grove City ate up most of the clock in the contest, maintaining possession for nearly 38 minutes, while the Mustangs utilized their ability to move quick, possessing the ball for 22 minutes.
Morrisville State College's curricula are enriched with applied learning and pave the way for opportunity at both the Morrisville and Norwich campuses. An action-oriented, interactive learning lab, the college is a national leader in technology and has been lauded for its exemplary, innovative and effective community service programs.
The college was ranked among the Best Regional Colleges in the North by U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges 2018 issue and was also recognized in the Top Public Schools, Regional Colleges North in the 2018 Best Colleges rankings. For more information about Morrisville State College, visit www.morrisville.edu.