The Ridgerunners opened the 2019 season with a bang.
Hosting the Vinta Hornets on Friday, September 6, Grove took the lead, expanded the lead and a strong Ridgerunner defense would hold their opponents to just three points during the penalty ridden game.
Grove 28, Vinita 3
After a long first quarter battle, Grove was the first on the scoreboard with a 4 yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Greg McCurdy to senior wide receiver Cole Buchholz. Nick Allsup kicked the point after and Grove took a 7-0 lead with 0:23 seconds left in the quarter.
The Hornets had possession of the ball going into the second, but would throw it away as McCurdy caught an interception, putting the ball back into Ridgerunner hands. Moments later, junior running back Kadian Forbis fumbled and Vinita recovered.
The Hornets would keep driving, but faced a 4th and 4 from the six yard line. A false start pushed Vinita back to the 11 and the Hornets opted for a field goal. The kick was good, making the score 7-3 in favor of Grove with 10:35 left in the half.
McCurdy fumbled two plays later and the Hornets would recover. Grove's defense put up a strong front and the ball was turned over on downs. At 3:21, McCurdy would connect with Forbis on a 7 yard pass, expanding Grove's lead. The kick from Allsup was no good, but Grove led 13-3.
Vinita marched up the field, attempted yet another field goal with 0:04 on the clock, but the kick was no good. At the half, the Ridgerunner led 13-3.
Grove kicked off the second half. Within three minutes, senior Braden Pittman had picked off a Vinita pass. McCurdy would nearly fumble again, but Grove was able to recover. At the 5:42 mark, McCurdy would find Forbis in the end zone, but a penalty pulled the play back and Grove turned over the ball on downs.
Vinita's offense was unable to get any where with the Ridgerunner defense and would also turn over the ball on downs.
Grove would score again, with just under three minutes left in the quarter. McCurdy found a hold and rushed 19 yards for the third Grove touchdown. The Ridgerunners opted for the 2 point conversion and McCurdy found Buchholz in the end zone, giving Grove two more points. Grove now led 21-3.
The Hornets took over on offense, but would end up with yet another 4th and long. This time, Vinita faked a punt, lobbed a wild pass, then turned the ball over on downs.
This play would start an unusual, almost panicked series of plays that ended up in Grove's favor. With 0:16 left in the third, McCurdy fumbled again, Vinita recovered. On the following play, the Hornets fumbled and Grove recovered. With just one second left on the clock, the Ridgerunners scored again, this time it was Forbis with an 8 yard run to get the points. The kick from Allsup was good and Grove now led 28-3.
The fourth quarter was scoreless. Joel Martin caught an interception at 8:29 to regain possession of the ball. McCurdy had a thigh cramp and was taken out of the game. Freshman Carson Trimble took over from the pocket. Trimble fumbled and Vinita recovered. Kade Sharp sacked Vinita's quarterback forcing the Hornets into another 4th and long situation.
Vinita punted, Grove bobbled the kick and the Hornets recovered the fumble. With less than three minutes to go in the game, Vinita fumbled and senior Kai Sarwinski picked up the ball and returned it to the 29. A penalty bumped the return all the way back to the 14. Grove would eventually punt and the game ended with Sarwinski sacking Vinita's quarterback as the horn blew.
McCurdy was 7-20 on passing for 89 yards and two touchdowns. Trimble was 2-2 for 15 yards.
Forbis led the rushing yards with 25 carries for 112 yards and one touchdown. McCurdy had 16 carries for 94 yards and one touchdown. Matt Bush had 11 carries for 50 yards. Trace Arnold had three carries for -3 yards and Trimble had one carry for -7 yards.
Buchholz had seven receptions for 68 yards, one touchdown and one two-point conversion. Malachi McClure had one reception for 11 yards. Forbis had one reception for seven yards and one touchdown.
Grove had 15 first downs to Vinita's 5. The Ridgerunners had a total of 306 yards, 220 were rushing yards and 86 were passing. The Hornets had 78 total yards, of which -26 yards were rushing and 104 were passing.
Both teams had 14 penalties each, the Hornets gave up 100 yards and the Ridgeunners gave up 103.
"I think we dominated the game the whole time. We still have to correct a lot of mistakes, we're making little mistakes, but one thing we can't correct is our effort. That's one thing, we're playing and we're playing hard," said Grove Head Coach Ron Culwell.
Grove will head to Jay for the Delaware County Bowl on Friday, September 13 at 7 p.m.