The Yellowjackets traveled to Pennsylvania this past weekend and gave the Grove City College Wolverines a 38-21 beatdown, improving their record to 6-2 and extending their winning streak to four games.
Junior running back Matt Bielecki gained 144 yards on 29 carries to bring his season total to 1,001 yards. This is the second year in row that he has gone over the thousand-yard mark for a season and he is the only player in UR history to accomplish this feat.
The UR defense absolutely dominated the Wolverine offense as they forced three-and-outs on every Grove City possession in the first quarter. The ‘Jackets’ offense was slow to get going, however, as they were only able to jump out to a 3-0 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter was a different story as the UR offense started firing on all cylinders. On their first drive of the quarter, the ‘Jackets started on their own nine-yard line and drove the length of the field on a 16-play drive capped off by a 15-yard touchdown reception by junior receiver Jay Jay Vanderstyne. The touchdown was Vanderstyne’s ninth of the year, good enough for tops in the Liberty League, and extended the Yellowjackets’ lead to 10-0.
After the defense forced another three-and-out possession, the offense was able to take advantage yet again. Senior quarterback Aaron Molisani connected with freshman wide receiver Mike Coolbaugh for a huge 42-yard gain. After a couple of completions to Vanderstyne, Bielecki was able to finish off the drive with a four-yard run into the end zone, making the score 17-0.
Grove City had less than two minutes to respond with a score. They came close after a long completion was made inside the UR 10-yard line, but junior defensive back Andy Rape ended the receiver’s chances of scoring when he forced him to fumble the ball just before he reached the end zone. The fumble was recovered by the ‘Jackets and the first half ended with a giant goose egg on Grove City’s side of the scoreboard.
Rape had a stellar performance in the game, leading the team with 10 tackles, one forced fumble and one interception. Rape’s numbers, as well as senior linebacker Jason Goeller’s two-sack effort, were essential to the defense’s success in the game. The solid play of the defense has been crucial to the team’s success this year.
“Intensity has definitely been the key for us, people are flying around making big plays and letting everyone know about it,” senior defensive tackle Ryan Barnard said.
The second half featured some difficulty thanks to Mother Nature when a lighting strike caused a 30-minute delay in the game. The delay may have given the Wolverines some time to think over how they were being outplayed, as they came back and were able to score their first touchdown of the game. A missed extra point made the score 17-6.
The Yellowjackets didn’t waste any time to respond, however, as freshman Zach Ingoldsby returned the ensuing kickoff 59 yards to the Grove City 32-yard line.The short field essentially guaranteed another Yellowjacket score against the overmatched Wolverine defense. The offensive line, led by senior captains Andy Peters and Nick Zappia simply dominated the Grove City defensive front, opening up many holes for the talented Bielecki to utilize.
The offense ran the ball all six plays during the drive and Bielecki finished it off with his second score of the day, extending the lead to 24-6.
The Yellowjackets extended their lead further in the fourth quarter thanks to a 12-yard run by senior running back Pat O’Brien and a 5-yard Molisani touchdown pass to freshman tight end Pedro Sosa.
Grove City managed to get a couple touchdowns of their own to make the score look like the game was closer than it really was. It was far too little, too late.
Molisani finished the game completing 17 of 23 passes for 221 yards and two scores. The offense racked up 410 yards in the game and the defense only allowed Grove City’s offense to put up 297 yards.
For the first time in quite a while, the Yellowjackets have a serious chance of playing in the postseason.
Barnard put it best, saying, “We’re just trying to get the point across that we’re a different team [this year], and that we’re not going to lay down for anyone.”
This weekend, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute will find out on Saturday just what the senior lineman is talking about. Kickoff is set for noon at Fauver Stadium.
Brackney is a member of the class of 2007.