Oct. 2—SHARON — Friday's Region 3 showdown was pretty basic: Grove City giveth, and Grove City taketh away.
The 'Grovers gave the ball to Curtis Hovis 26 times and he responded with 210 yards rushing and 2 TDs. Conversely, the Eagles coerced host Sharon into a handful of turnovers, resulting in a 32-13 triumph at Tiger Stadium.
According to ProfessorBriggs.com, Sharon entered the game plus-12 in turnover ratio; however Grove City pilfered 4 passes — 2 by Gavin Lutz — and recovered a fumble.
Ironically, Grove City struggled with turnovers through the season's 1st half, particularly in a pair of losses.
"The last twenty-seven games, when we've won the turnover differential, we won the football game, and that held true this year," admitted mentor Sam Mowrey of Grove City (2-1, 4-2). "Oftentimes, football's a pretty simple game: If you don't give the ball away and you can create a couple extra possessions, that's obviously gonna bode in your favor. So the defense did a fantastic job, and that's Coach (Brad) Trezona and Coach (Jason) Hohman on the defensive side."
Sharon was on the short end of a 12-6 score in the 1st half's waning seconds, when Anthony Pereira pilfered Mikey Rodriques' 4th-down pass from Grove City's 5-yard line. That established the Eagles' 2nd-half defensive performance. In addition to Lutz's pair of picks, Hayden McCreadie made another, while Luciano Trezona recovered a fumble.
"This year, we've lost that (turnover) battle twice and those have hurt us, so that was a point of emphasis — just taking care of the football and makin' plays on defense and creatin' turnovers when that opportunity presents itself," Mowrey added.
Hovis had 42 yards rushing at the half, but energized the Eagles after intermission with runs of 19, 11, 18, 11, 19, 13 and 32.
"The line did a great job for me, opened up the holes and made my job really easy," Hovis humbly began. "I just held onto the ball, ran through some guys, and tried to make some moves when I could ..."
The gritty Grovers' senior — 5-foot-8, but 185 pounds — seemed to secure a lot of second-effort yardage.
"Just one cut and go," Hovis simply said in describing his running style. "Vertical, straight, north and south, you want to get movin' fast, get the yards, get the chains movin' cause that's how you win the game. Just keep my feet churning, keep my hands on the ball, make sure I don't give up any turnovers, and that's how we win the game."
In addition to Hovis' 2 TDs (a 1st-quarter 5-yarder and an 18-yarder for the 2nd half's initial score), Anthony Nemec notched another pair on 4-yard runs in the 3rd and 4th periods. The latter — after the Eagles mishandled a kickoff — culminated a 17-play, 99-yard drive that consumed 7-plus minutes.
It proved to be a pivotal point. The Tigers had just trimmed their deficit to 25-13 on the 4th frame's 1st play as Jayveeth White went 64 yards down Sharon's sideline and Nick Schimp kicked the PAT.
Grove City's ground game gained 388 yards as quarterback Hunter Hohman (73), Nemec (67) and Zach Rodgers complemented Hovis. Hohman also hurled a a 39-yard, 2nd-stanza scoring strike to Joey Hathaway.
Of Hovis, Sharon skipper Jason McElhaney praised, "He's a hard runner, low center of gravity, really, really, really strong, so it's hard for one guy to tackle him. He showed that all night. He ran through arm-tackles ... he ran really well and they made holes for him.
"The thing that I thought was the big deal," McElhaney continued, "(Hovis) was able to get momentum goin' to the line of scrimmage, and when he's able to do that he becomes an even heavier back than he really is. So we've gotta do a better job."
"Offense and defensive lines are the definition of sacrifice," Mowrey remarked. "Those kids rarely get any of the credit, and you rush for zero yards without them. So, Gage Dlugonski, Dylan Ahern, Jacob Blair, Nate Wadsworth, Dillon Winger, those kids did just a fantastic job up front, settin' the tone.
"It makes things a little bit easier when you're able to move the ball on the ground, and I'm just really proud of those guys, and Coach (Todd) Warner, our offensive line coach, does a great job with them. They set the tone and were really physical up front," Mowrey added.
Sharon (1-1, 4-2) was short-circuited as the Tigers' trio of consecutive triumphs ended. Rodriquez rifled a 4-yard TD toss to CC Harrison on a 4th-and-goal play with 4:29 remaining to intermission. Rodriquez went 7-for-10 for 99 first-half yards, but completed just 3 second-half attempts and had his last 3 passes picked.
"You can't lose the turnover battle five-to-zero and expect to be able to win a football game," lamented McElhaney. "When you're playin' a team as good as Grove City, you just can't do it. It's not an oversimplification; it's the truth.
"We still have a lot of work to do. There's big games looming," McElhaney forecasted. "We have to get back and kind've figure out a little bit who we are and just get better. We just didn't play 'clean,' winning football. We had chances to get off the field, and we didn't."
It was the 2nd straight season Grove City garnered a win on Tiger Stadium turf; ironically, it was a pseudo home game for Mowrey, who lives just blocks away.
"This is just an awesome venue, and I have a ton of respect for their program. And Coach McElhaney does a great job over there with those kids. That's a good football team; they were a little bit short-handed. It was just a great, Friday night, high school football game.
"I get to walk home, and that'll be nice," a smiling Mowrey admitted.
GROVE CITY 6 6 13 7 32
SHARON 0 6 0 7 13
GC — Hovis, 5 run (kick failed)
GC — Hathaway, 39 pass from Hohman (run failed)
S — Harrison, 4 pass from Rodriques (kick failed)
GC — Hovis, 18 run (Hake kick)
GC — Nemec, 4 run (kick failed)
S — White, 64 run (Schimp kick)
GC — Nemec, 4 run (kick failed)
GROVE CITY SHARON
29 First downs 11
388 Rushing yards 150
91 Passing yards 127
12-5-0 Att-comp-int 17-10-4
479 Total yards 277
1-0 Fumbles-lost 4-1
11-84 Penalties-yards lost 4-42
Rushing: GROVE CITY — Hovis 26-210, Hohman 15-73, Nemec 15-67, Rodgers 3-9; SHARON — White 3-78, Nixon 10-39, Rodriques 10-33.
Passing: GROVE CITY — Hohman 12-5-0, 91; SHARON — Rodriquez 17-10-4, 127,
Receiving: GROVE CITY — Rodgers 3-39, Hathaway 1-39, Lutz 1-17; SHARON — Harrison 6-64, Ju. Phillips 2-45, Nixon 1-10, Austin 1-8.