Sub QB leads Waynesburg to win
Just call him Cool Hand Carter Hill.
In his first start as Waynesburg's quarterback, Hill, a sophomore transfer from Division II Tiffin, overcame an early mistake and led the Yellow Jackets (6-0, 4-0) to a 21-14 home win over Grove City (3-3, 2-2) Saturday afternoon at John F. Wiley Stadium.
Hill finished 14 of 24 for 109 yards with two touchdowns and one interception as a replacement for injured senior Tyler Fatigante, who moved to wide receiver to allow rotator cuff tendonitis in his throwing arm to recover.
“I just thought our game plan was solid,” Hill said. “Our coaches took care of the calls we needed to have that were better for me, coming in with the nerves and everything.”
Waynesburg coach Rick Shepas never noticed a moment of insecurity from Hill, not even after the sophomore threw a pick-six that gave Grove City its only lead.
“It doesn't rattle him — he's got swagger,” said Shepas, who noted that the interception happened because Hill threw back against his body. “That's one of the things I'm trying to coach out of him, to get him more fundamental.”
Grove City's offense entered with a running game that ranked first in the Presidents' Athletic Conference at 193.4 yards per game and featured the PAC rushing leader, senior Shane Kaclik. But the Wolverines were no match for a Waynesburg run defense that, prior to Saturday, allowed a conference-low 82.8 yards per game.
Kaclik finished with just 64 yards on 17 carries. As a team, Grove City had 102 rushing yards. And its passing game fared no better, as Brian Pell threw for 91 yards and spent much of his day under pressure.
“We just never got our offense going,” Grove City coach Chris Smith said. “We were faced, seemingly in my mind, with a lot of second-and-9, second-and-11, and that's OK once in a while, but when that's your steady diet, it's tough on you.”
A strong defensive effort gave Grove City a reason to head to the locker room with confidence at halftime.
After allowing Waynesburg to drive inside their 5-yard-line during the game's opening possession, the Wolverines held strong on three consecutive run plays to send the Yellow Jackets off the field without points.
Junior free safety Joe Diani then put Grove City ahead, 7-0, with a 36-yard interception return two minutes into the second quarter.
“That was championship-level football for them against a good offense,” Smith said. “But you can only ask people to play defense for so long. They need a break, too, and they were not given many breaks.”
A Grove City giveaway less than two minutes later led to a tying touchdown for Waynesburg. Free safety Bryan Gary dove to catch a wayward throw by Pell at the Grove City 32. Eight plays later, Hill connected with Adam Moses in the middle of the end zone on a 2-yard play-action pass.
Waynesburg's offense managed a modest 101 yards on 36 plays in the first half. But a balanced combination of runs by Betrand Ngampa and Dominic Moore and short passes by Hill allowed the Yellow Jackets to hit their stride in the third quarter, during which they scored 14 points.
Fatigante actually factored into the Waynesburg offense in the fourth quarter, catching two passes for 15 yards.
“I don't want to go away from (Fatigante) at all, either, because he's done such a great job with his feet for us,” Shepas said. “But his arm, if he needs rest, he needs rest.
“I'm as excited about this win as any we've had so far. … Against this team, with the way they're playing, this is a good win for us. Because we'll get healthier from here.”
Bill West is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 724-543-1303.